Istanbul is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, both for its oriental atmosphere and for its rich gastronomy, its unique condition of being bicontinental or for its rich and boundless heritage. In fact, No matter how much you travel to Istanbul, there are always things you don’t see. However, it would be inexcusable not to see the Blue Mosque.
The history of blue mosque
This denomination of Blue Mosque is the most poetic and descriptive. But this temple has a more official name in Turkish which is Sultanahmed Camii, or what is the same, the Mosque of Sultan Ahmed, the real promoter of its construction between 1606 and 1616. Although, the mosque was not inaugurated until a year later, when another sultan was already reigning: Mustafa I.
The architecture of the Blue Mosque
The profile of the Blue Mosque is similar to another nearby building: neither more nor less than the impressive Hagia Sophia, of Byzantine origins and later transformed into a mosque. However, we are facing a much smaller construction.
Still, it is of considerable size, with a height of 43 meters and a large central dome that develops to a diameter of 23 meters. in that profile That dome and the staggered system of vaults that raise it are striking. But the six minarets, very slender and vertical, also attract all eyes.
Why is it called the Blue Mosque?
As soon as you enter the interior of the temple, its name is understood. Its entire upper part, including the great dome, is covered by approximately 20,000 blue tiles. They were made expressly for this work and brought from the city of Iznik, located south of Istanbul and in the western part of the Asia Minor peninsula.
But the most striking decorative elements that can be seen during the visit to the interior of the Blue Mosque do not end here. The impressive crystal lamps also deserve a good time of attention, called spiders, hanging from the ceiling of the temple. A temple that in addition to that artificial light also receives natural lighting thanks to more than 200 stained glass windows.
the mosques of istanbul
The Blue Mosque is an absolute must to visit during a trip to Istanbul. However, it is true that it is not the only one with that category, since very close, as we have said, is Santa Sofía, also a mosque although now converted into a museum. And of course, Suleymaniye should also be mentionedthe great mosque promoted by the mythical ruler Suleiman the Magnificent and built by his favorite architect, the great Sinan.
The three that we have named are the great triad of temples in the Turkish capital, but there are many more, and we cannot resist naming others such as the mosque integrated within the Dolmabahce Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus, or the Eyup Sultan or Fatih mosques.
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”
– Aldous Huxley –
Visit to a mosque
Istanbul has in tourism one of its great sources of wealth. On the other hand, Turkey is a mainly Muslim country, but unlike other Islamic countries, everything here is a bit more Westernized. For those two reasons, in Istanbul many of the mosques can be visited by tourists, even if they are not Muslimssomething that is not common in countries of the Middle East or North Africa.
However, although they can be visited, certain rules of decorum must be followed, in addition to prohibiting the entry of travelers during prayer hours. That decorum corresponds to both behavior and attire. That is to say, you must wear the appropriate clothing, always enter barefoot and, if possible, having washed your feet in the patio fountains, and women should always, always have their heads and shoulders covered.