The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, also known as Sultan Ahmet Camii in Turkish, is a mosque that is steeped in history. It gets the name Blue Mosque from the blue tiles that surround the walls of its interior. The mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 while Ahmed I was ruling the country.
Tourists flock to the area because of its wonderful architecture. But inside is where travellers can find a tomb of the founder, a madrasa as well as a hospice. It is still used as a mosque but is also now considered to be one of the most important tourist attractions in the area. However, the Blue Mosque is closed to non-worshippers for 30 minutes during the five prayers held daily.
When it comes to appreciating the architecture, it is best to approach the mosque from the direction of the Hippodrome. This is also where non-muslim visitors will have to enter the mosque.
Despite the Blue Mosque history, it is impressive in many ways, especially its size and sheer beauty. One of the most distinctive elements of the mosque is the six minarets which are different from the usual two or four that many of the mosques in the city have. However, when it comes to history, there is a legend that believes that the Sultan actually requested gold minarets which is pronounced Altin Minare but the architect actually heard Alti Minare which means six minarets. This caused a lot of controversy as the only other mosque with six minarets was the Prophet’s mosque in Mecca. However, the sultan dealt with this problem by demanding that a seventh minaret to be added in Mecca.
So, if you choose to visit the mosque to take in one of the most popular attractions in the city, you will need to remember that this is a working mosque. Therefore, it is closed during prayer time but the usual opening hours are from 9am until one hour before dusk each day. Visitors are requested to wear respectful clothing and dress respectfully when visiting.