Next on the list is the blue mosque, one of Istanbul’s, if not Turkey’s, most prized and photogenic icons. It is officially called as Sultanahmet Mosque, named after Sultan Ahmet I who started its construction. He built it between 1603 and 1617 with the intent to rival the Hagia Sophia. He was 19 years old when the construction was initiated.
If you ever wondered why it is called the Blue Mosque, that is because of the thousands of blue Iznik tiles that adorn its high ceiling and walls. There are about 20,000 tiles that display ornate patterns such as flowers and trees.
The mosque’s exterior structure boasts six mighty minarets. Most mosques usually only have two or four and this is what makes the Blue Mosque look phenomenal.
The prayer hall is lit with 260 replicas of 17th century stained-glass windows. The original ones were either lost or destroyed over the years.
A school, market, hamams, and hospital were originally all part of the Blue Mosque’s complex. Most of them were torn down during the last centuries.
Shoes are not allowed inside the prayer hall. Although a plastic bag is provided at the entrance, just be sure to bring an extra. Also, proper clothing is observed and female visitors must cover their heads and shoulders with a shawl.
Sultan Ahmet died at the age of 27, one year after the completion of the Blue Mosque.