Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)
The Sultanahmet Mosque is colloquially known as Istanbul’s great Blue Mosque due to the delicately hand painted blue tiles surrounding its interior walls. The Blue Mosque, still an active mosque today, was built during the rule of Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616 and is home to its founder’s tomb. As the first mosque of his rule, Ahmed I built the Blue Mosque on top of the palace of the Byzantine emperors facing the venerated Hagia Sophia and the hippodrome on either side.
As a result of being an active mosque, tourists wishing to visit must strictly adhere to the dress code. Women must have their arms, legs and head covered. Men must be wearing shorts or pants down to their knees. Everyone must remove their shoes before entering the complex. Head scarves and wraps are available if you do not show up wearing appropriate attire. Be aware that the mosque closes to non worshipers five times a day for approximately 30 minutes for daily prayer.
Approach the Blue Mosque from the Hippodrome for the best vantage point of its architecture. There is also apparently a daily light show after sundown; we didn’t see it during our time in Istanbul.
Our Take: Definitely worth a visit while exploring the Sultanahmet area. Although we didn’t find it as beautiful as the Suleymaniye Mosque it was interesting to see an active mosque and have the opportunity to ask questions about Islam from available representatives.
Blue Mosque Essentials
Entrance Fee: Free of charge
Visiting Hours: Avoid visiting the Mosque at prayer times
Closed Days: None
Website: Sultan Ahmet Mosque