Blue Mosque is the most visited mosque in Istanbul. Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the mosque was built in Ottoman Istanbul in the 17th century.
While the Blue Mosque represents Ottoman architecture in Sultanahmet, Hagia Sophia is a work of Byzantine architecture from the previous period. These two important historical buildings are the jewels of Istanbul.
Blue Mosque does not give any clue about its name to those who watch it from outside. However, when you enter the mosque and look at the walls, you will understand why the mosque is associated with blue in every source. The beauty of the blue Iznik tiles gave the mosque its name.
Blue Mosque Tips from Locals
As a local tour guide, I will give you useful tips about the Blue Mosque in this article. Thus, you can have preliminary information before going there and save time during your visit to the mosque.
If you visit the Blue Mosque in the spring, you can take pictures as above. Because there is a one-month Tulip Season in Istanbul at the end of March and the beginning of April. During the Tulip Festival, all the parks in Sultanahmet are filled with colorful tulips.
History of the Blue Mosque
The history of the Blue Mosque dates back to the 17th century. The mosque was built in 7 years between 1609 and 1616. The mosque was built by the Sultan Ahmed I. Its architect was Sedefkar Mehmed Agha.
During the Ottoman period, the sultans built mosques as a complex. Around the mosques there would be many buildings for the benefit of the people. However, mosques were also the burial places of sultans.
You can see the tomb of Sultan Ahmed I at the corner of the mosque. The tomb draws attention with its large dome and contains beautiful elements of Ottoman decorative art. The sultan who built the mosque lies here with his successors, Murad IV and Osman II.
Blue Mosque Opening Hours 2022
Blue Mosque opening hours are between 08:30 in the morning and 17:00 in the evening in 2022. However, the mosque is closed during prayer times. The closing hours of the mosque are updated every day.
When you enter the courtyard of the Blue Mosque, you can see the opening and closing hours of the mosque, which change according to the prayer time. It usually closes one hour before the prayer and opens half an hour after the call to prayer.
The best time to visit the Blue Mosque is in the morning. If you go to the mosque at 08:30 in the morning, you can easily visit the mosque before the crowds arrive. Considering the whole day, the best visiting hours are between 08:30 and 11:30.
There is a dress code when visiting the Blue Mosque. It is better to bring a scarf with you as women are required to cover their heads. However, even if you would forget, it is not a big problem. Because you can borrow scarves from the kiosk in the garden of the mosque.
Things to Do around Blue Mosque
There are many things to do around the Blue Mosque. After leaving the mosque, you can explore the centuries-old bazaars, visit interesting museums and even enjoy a Turkish bath in a historical hammam.
1. Arasta Bazaaar
Arasta Bazaar is almost similar to the other two famous bazaars of the city, Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. However, it is an open market with spacious streets. You can easily reach the bazaar from the courtyard of the mosque.
When a mosque was built in the Ottoman period, a bazaar was built right next to it. The maintenance costs of the mosque were covered by the rent collected from the shops in this bazaar. Arasta Bazaar is a place that keeps this tradition alive.
Inside the Arasta Bazaar is the Great Palace Mosaics Museum, one of the lesser known museums of Istanbul. Floor mosaics from the Great Palace of the Roman emperors can be seen in this museum.
Hippodrome is one of the rare historical monuments from the Roman period in Istanbul. The Hippodrome was built by Emperor Constantine when Istanbul was declared the capital of the Roman Empire.
During the Byzantine period, chariot races were held here. The Hippodrome, the most important activity center of the city, was also a place where great rebellions started. Today, obelisks from that period can still be seen in the Hippodrome.
3. Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum is actually a palace from the Ottoman period and is located very close to the mosque. The historical artifacts you will see in this museum complete your experience in the mosque.
Turkish and Islamic Art Museums have Turkish carpets from the Seljuk and Ottoman periods. In addition, historical artifacts from the Caliphate period can be seen. There are also centuries-old handwritten Qurans.
4. Sultanahmet Park
Sultanahmet Park is right in the middle of the historical monuments in the district. Thanks to this park, you can take magnificent Instagram photos by taking historical monuments such as the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia behind you.
Near the park, there are bazaars, historical artifacts and museums such as Arasta Bazaar, Hippodrome (Sultanahmet Square), Basilica Cistern and Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.
5. Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hammam
Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hammam is located in the large park between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Dating to the 16th century, the hamam was built by Hurrem Sultan, the wife of Sultan Suleiman.
After visiting the surrounding historical monuments, you can enjoy a Turkish bath in this hamam. Having a massage and scrub in the hammam will make you feel refreshed.
In order to summarize, the Blue Mosque is among the best places to visit in Istanbul. Visited by an average of 3 million people a year, this mosque is the second largest mosque in Istanbul.
Those who wonder which is the largest mosque in Istanbul can visit the Suleymaniye Mosque. The Suleymaniye Mosque is much larger than the Blue Mosque, both as a structure and as additional buildings surrounding the mosque.
Most of the imperial mosques built during the Ottoman period were more than a place of worship. As in the Suleymaniye Mosque, there would be a madrasah (school), tomb, bazaar, hospital, Turkish bath and soup kitchen next to it.
However, since the Blue Mosque was located in the heart of the capital, it had less space compared to other imperial mosques. For this reason, there is only a madrasah , a tomb and a bazaar next to it. Therefore, it is small compared to the Suleymaniye Mosque complex.
Written by Serhat Engul