The Blue Mosque was built in the early 1600’s by Sultan Ahmed I on the site that the palaces of the Byzantine Emperors used to occupy. These palaces were demolished to make room for the mosque, which is a little unbelievable to me as people now wouldn’t dream of destroying a monument to build something else. Can you imagine pulling down the White House to make room for a church?

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It is a combination of Islamic, Byzantine, and Ottoman architecture and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period. What I find surprising is that it isn’t recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, but included in a sweeping recognition of historical Istanbul. On the one hand Istanbul transports you back in time, but on the other this particular place felt special enough to deserve it’s own designation (IMO).

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It derives it’s name from the sheer volume of blue tiles lining the walls and the ceiling of the interior. There are over 20,000 hand painted tiles decorating the ceiling and walls. I personally found it all to be really colorful and didn’t notice the abundance of blue in the tile work, but maybe I wasn’t seeing all that there was to see. It wears its age well; they have turned what used to be candle holders into electric light fixtures, but instead of diminishing the mystique that having more than a 1000 candles flickering would confer on the atmosphere, it created a different kind of mood lighting that lent romance to the interior.

 

Blue Mosque in Turkey 1

Candle holders made into electric light fixtures brighten the interior.

Interior of the Blue Mosque

I guess there is a blue cast to the mosaics decorating the walls and ceiling, but there were so many other colors present that I had a hard time thinking of the mosque as overwhelmingly blue

Interior of the Blue Mosque

Only Muslims were allowed in the center of the mosque, this was the space where the daily prayers were held.

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The Stained glass for the windows originally came from Venice (Italy) and were a gift to the Sultan; but much of them have been replaced.

Interior of the Blue Mosque

Can you believe that this is all mosaics?

One of the six minarets - a priest used to have to climb to the top to call people to prayer 5 times a day.

One of the six minarets – a priest used to have to climb to the top to call people to prayer 5 times a day.

How people manage to pray and not just stare at all of the surrounding beauty is beyond me? Shoes are not allowed in the mosque, so it pretty much smells like feet, another thing that would distract me from any prayers that I might consider making…

Blue Mosque at Sunset

Blue Mosque at Sunset