Mosques are an exquisite form of design and architecture with beautifully detailed interiors that will leave anyone standing breathless. I was privileged enough to see one of the most historical and famous mosques in Istanbul Turkey – the Blue Mosque (Called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish). The blue mosque goes by this name because of the blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design. The Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 years, during the rule of Ahmed I. Just like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasa and a hospice. The Sultanahmet Mosque combines the two of the best architectural styles. It is a mixture of traditional Islamic architecture with Byzantine elements, taken from the adjacent Hagia Sophia. It’s considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period with its overwhelming size and grandeur.
The best way to see the great architecture of the Blue Mosque is to approach it from the West side. There you can see the impressive central dome rising 43 meters high at its central point with the six minarets, and eight secondary domes surrounding it. But I believe what’s even more remarkable is seeing the 20.000 handmade Iznik ceramic tiles, in more than 50 tulip designs that decorate the interior walls of the mosque. The tiles at lower level are traditional in design, while at gallery level they have representations of flowers, fruits and cypresses.
Upper levels of the mosque are covered in blue paint. Natural light streams through the 200 artistic stained glass windows. The detailed coloured glass for the windows was a gift of the Signoria of Venice to the Sultan. The decorations include verses from the Qur’an, many of them made by Sevvid Kasim Gubari regarded as the greatest calligrapher of his time. Other light shines through the impressive chandeliers. The floors are covered with patterned carpet.
The focal point and most important part in the interior of the mosque is the mihrab, which is made of finely carved and sculptured marble, with a pillar niche and a double inscriptive panel above it. Surrounded by many spacious windows the adjacent walls are dominated by ceramic tiles. To the right of the mihrab is the richly decorated podium, where the imam stands when he is delivering his sermon at the time of noon prayer on Fridays or on holy days. The mosque has been designed so that even when it is at its most crowded, everyone in the mosque can see and hear the imam.
Outside the mosque is the beautiful courtyard, which is as large as the mosque itself. The façade of the courtyard mimics the exterior design of the blue mosque. The central hexagon fountain is a prominent feature outside and makes for any amazing place to get a photo with the mosque behind in the distance. I recommend going at sunset, the pinks and oranges of the setting sun contrast beautifully against the deep coloured blue of the mosque. It’s nothing short of remarkable.