Blue Mosque Overview

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, also famously known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of the most visited tourist places and applauded for its great architecture. The mosque shines like a blue diamond at night due to the beautiful reflection it creates from the falling lights from minarets.

The interiors consist of hand painted blue tiles and a beautiful combination of the Turkish (Ottoman) empire, Byzantine empire and traditional Islamic architecture. The mosque’s foundation site is the palace site of the Byzantine emperor and in front of the famous museum Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet square, making it an essential stop on your Turkey tour packages from India.

It is a functioning mosque and the complex contains Sultan Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah and an infirmary constructed between 1609 – 1616. With the capacity to accommodate 10,000 at a time and the only mosque in Istanbul with six minarets, this mosque is a UNESCO world heritage site and a major tourist destination.

How To Reach

The transportation is easily available from Istanbul airport to the Blue Mosque. One can take a train, tram, bus, taxi or a car to reach the site.

By Train:
Board the train from Ataturk airport Havalimani to Zeytinburnu and then taking a tram from Zeytinburnu to Sultanahmet, the journey will take around 58 -60 minutes.

By Bus:
One can also take a bus from Ataturk Airport to Yenikapi Istasyonu and then cover the remaining 2 kms by walking, the journey will take around one hour 15 minutes.

By Taxi:
Take a taxi, rent a car or a cab from private service providers from Ataturk airport to Blue mosque and cover around 17 kms in 16 minutes.

Best Time To Visit

The mosque remains open throughout the year but the best time to visit the Blue Mosque is between June to August in a comparatively pleasing weather than winters. As the temperature drops drastically during winters at Istanbul it is best to avoid this time of the year.

Since it is  an active mosque, the tourist entry is restricted during the prayer hours. Planning a visit in the evening will surely let one enjoy the site to its true reputation because of the enough lighting and illumination.

Other Essential Information


The most recognisable landmark of Istanbul, Blue mosque is located at SultanAhmet, Istanbul, Turkey. It's a two minutes’ walk from Sultan SultanAhmet Square.

Distance from Istanbul Airport:
The distance by road from Ataturk airport and Sultan Ahmed mosque is 17.1 kms.

Prayer Timings:
Muslim call to prayer (also called as Ezan) is chanted six times a day. The prayer timing does not follow the clock time and but set as per the movement of the Sun.

1) Two hours before dawn 
2) At dawn 
3) Midday 
4) Afternoon 
5) Sunset 
6) Right before last light of the day

History of Blue Mosque

As the story goes, after the unfavorable war of Persia and the Peace of Zsitvatorok, Sultan Ahmed decided to build a grand mosque to reaffirm the Ottoman empire’s power (Turkish) among the citizens. The Sultan did not gain much from the war victorious funds, so he procured the fund from treasury, which caused great disappointments and anger among the Muslim Jury and ulama.

The blue mosque is said to be the first great imperial mosque built in more than forty years which was commissioned by the great ottiman imperial family. With its location being the site of Byzentine empire’s palace and facing the famous Hagia Sophia and hippodrome, the site holds great significance.

Having some notable palaces built on the site already a huge cost was borne in buying the palace and then to tear it down. The  majority of the southern mosque is resting at the foundation of the Great Palace. A big part of the hippodrome was also removed to make ample space for the mosque.

The construction of the site started in August 1609 when Sultan Ahmed I himself came for the sod-turning ceremony. The construction work was continued post the reigns of Sultan Ahmed I as the last a couple of accounts has been approved by his successor Mustafa I. 

Architecture of Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmed I appointed royal architect Sdefhar Mehmet Aga, a disciple of the famous architect Mimar Sinan to create this impressive monument. Sdefhar orchestrated the ideas of his master Sinan by creating the larger than life grandeur, overwhelming size and splendor.

The interiors of the mosque are built using ceramic tiles of different kinds and adorned by the stained-glass window. The Blue mosque is considered the last great mosque of the classical period and the meticulous work of constructing the impressive site has been covered in eight volumes and available at the library of Topkapi Palace.

The exteriors of the mosque offer a mesmerizing view with the front porch, designated ablution area, lush greenery and landscape art and the water fountain, which lit up in the evening and make the view even more beautiful.

Other than the green garden, ample seating and resting spot under the tree, this gigantic complex also has an art gallery, a museum, a library, a conference hall and a workshop for artists. The courtyard is as large as the mosque itself and the façade of the front porch was built in similarity to the façade of Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, with additions of the turrets on the corner domes.

The minarets of this mosque had been a highlight. There are a total of six minarets out of which four minarets cornered the blue mosque while the other two at the end of the forecourt. Some highlights of the world famous monument is that the central dome is 72 meters tall from the ground.

 A processional number which represents the 72 nations Turkey was comprised of also on top of the main dome there is a three piece finial of 7.77 meter height. With the current capacity to host over 60000 worshippers at a time, the mosque accommodates thousands of tourists everyday.

Interior of Blue Mosque 

The interiors can be understood in two levels: the upper and lower. The lower area and at each part of the support was built using thousands of iznik style ceramic tiles, in a variety of tulip design. At the lower level the tiles have more traditional designs while near the gallery area the designs are brighter with representation of flowers and fruits.

Since the price of the tiles grew over the period, its use decreased on site. The upper level interiors are dominated by blue paint with over 200 stained-glass windows having intricate designs which let the natural light admit throughout. The electrified oil lamp chandelier when installed was covered by gold and gems and had ostrich eggs placed between the lamp bowls to avoid the cobwebs.

The major decoration apart from the variety of tulip design on ceramic tiles is verses from Quran crafted by Seyyid Kasim Gubari, a maestro calligrapher. The highlight of the interiors of this mosque is finely carved and sculpted marble Mihrab with stalactite niche and double inscriptive panels above it.

To the right of the mihrab is a heavily decorated minber, where the imam stands during noon prayers. The most has been designed in a way that even when it is packed and crowded everyone can hear the imam. The royal kiosk with two small retiring rooms and a platform is at the south east corner.

The royal kiosk is supported by ten marble columns and provides entry to the south east gallery of the mosque. The kiosk has its own jade and rose decorated mihrab with an inlaid lectern with one hundred verses from Quran.

The floors are covered by the donated carpets and are replaced regularly. The mosque has many spacious windows ensuring air flow and enough light insight. Each portico of the mosque has five windows, each secondary dome has fourteen windows and the main central dome has 28 windows.

The colored glass for the windows was a gift to Sultan from the Venice governing authority. These glass windows have been replaced and renovated over the time with the modern versions with little artistic charm.

Exterior in Blue Mosque

The courtyard is as large as the mosque itself and the façade of the front porch was built in similarity to the façade of Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, with additions of the turrets on the corner domes. The courtyard is surrounded by a vault arcade. The beautiful hexagonal fountain is comparatively smaller to the huge courtyard. 

The front gate in the poarch area has a hanging iron chain leading to the inside courtyard where a tall yet narrow gateway connected via portico with series of windows at both sides, gives a sneaky look to the grand domes of the mosque standing lavishly. The semi dome shading the entrance has a fine dripping like structure, graced by a smaller circular dome on top.

The Blue mosque is famous for its tall and sharp on top minarets. These minarets have been a great highlight in the overall structure and the total number of the minaret had been a subject of great controversy. The total six minarets  were built due to a confusion between the order given by the Sultan and its interpretation by the Architect.

Four minarets cornered the blue mosque and the other two minarets are each outside covering the courtyard. The inner four minarets have three balconies while the outer two have two balconies each. In the upper part of the front gate at the porch area, a thick looped iron chain is hanging to ensure that one is alway bowing his head to the god while entering the mosque.

Also, as the story goes only sultan Ahmed was supposed to enter the mosque on a horse and the looped chain was to ensure that the Sultan is lowering his head while entering to avoid getting hurt and also displays an act of respect to the place of god.

Minarets of Blue Mosque

The Blue mosque is the first one of the two mosques in Turkey to have six minarets, the second one is in the Sabanci mosque in Adana. The minarets have an interesting story behind its construction. Sultan Ahmed wanted to build the Gold minarets to his mosque and ordered the same.

When the order was summoned to build gold Minarets (altın minaret) to what the architect understood as six minarets (altı minaret). When the number of total minarets at the mosque revealed it caused a great amount of anger and criticism to the Sultan as the Holy Prophet mosque in Mecca was the only mosque having six minarets.

To overcome this unintentional situation the Sultan then ordered the construction of the seventh minar to be added in the Great Mosque of Mecca. However as per a famous contradictory story, it was during the reign of Sultan Murad IV when 3 additional minarets were added at the Harem mosque, Mecca which made a total seven minarets in the complex.

Each of these minarets are in the shape of a flute and pencil sharped on top represents an article of faith. The four minarets are standing tall cornering the blue mosque having three balconies while the outer two minarets guarding the courtyard owns two balconies each.

The four minarets are standing tall at a height of 107.1 meter as a tribute to 1071 Malazgrit victory of the Suljuk Turks over Byzantines. In the early times before the prayers the caller had to climb a narrow stairway to five times a day to announce the call for prayer from these minarets which now has been replaced by the public announcement system.

Amazing facts about Blue Mosque

Istanbul’s famous Blue mosque is also known as Sultanahmet mosque. It is named after Sultan Ahmed I, who dreamt of building a place of worship post the major heart-breaking war incidents. The blue mosque’s grand structure and architecture was in close competition to the other majorly worshipped place Hagia Sophia.

- Sultan Ahmed started the construction of the mosque when he was only 19 years old but sadly, he died at a young age of 27 years and can only witness and enjoy the architectural marvel for one year.

- The famous Blue Mosque is called Blue mosque because of the beautiful tulip designed tiles being used at the interior decoration of the mosque’ wall.

- The tombs of Sultan Ahmed I, his wife and three sons were a part of the original mosque’s complex along with an infirmary, madrasa, school, market and imaret but most of it was torn down in the 19th century.

- The main entrance at the west side is far grander than the northern entrance used by the non-worshiper. The tourists are requested and assisted to use the north entrance for movement to keep the mosque’s blessedness and decorum maintained.

- Over 200 stained-glass windows used to be a major attraction and worked as a source of light to light the interiors of the mosque, which was later replaced by the less attractive replicas.

- The tourists can enjoy a light show with historic narrative in during the summer season in the evening.

Tips on visiting Blue Mosque

The famous site attracts millions of tourists every day. But there are certain sets of rules which need to be followed by all, to maintain the simplicity and holiness of the mosque. 

- Plan the visit to the mosque keeping prayer times in mind as the mosque will remain close for non-worshipers for 90 minutes at each prayer time.

- There is no entry fee to the mosque, however one can opt for donation as per their wish and belief.

- Before entering the mosque, one needs to remove the shoes and keep in the plastic bags provided free of cost at the entrance of the mosque.

- It is mandatory for all the females to cover their head while entering the mosque with the fabric covering the head and equal portion handing on both sides of the body. The head covering is also available at the mosque for free of cost. The covering meant to hide the hair so cover in a way to follow the tradition.

- One does not enter the mosque with shorts or three fourth clothes or any other type of body revealing, this is applicable for male and female both.

Avoid clicking photos and taking videos of those who are worshipping. The mosque is a place of worship and it is a part of the basic etiquette to be quiet and not create any kind of noise.
Read More

Tourism Board Alliances

Blue Mosque FAQs

Why is the Blue Mosque blue?

Sultan Ahmed Mosque is famously known as the Blue mosque, while entering one can not get enough idea of the reason behind its name but when inside the mosque the beautiful blue iznik ceramic tiles covering the maximum part of the interiors and the chandelier and natural lights reflection on them creates a charming blue ambience.

Can you take pictures inside a mosque?

Since blue mosque is an active mosque and many worshippers gather here for prayer each day apart from the main praying hours. One can take photos and videos but without flash. It is also not advisable to take pictures of those in prayer inside the mosque.

Is Blue Mosque free?

In addition to being the most visited tourist place, the blue Mosque is a place of worship with no entry fee. One can totally make some donation which is spent in maintenance and running other facilities at the mosque. While entering the mosque, one needs to take out the shoe and wrap it in a plastic bag and cover their head with the fabric, the fabric and the plastic bags are also available at the entrance for free of cost.

Why Choose Thrillophilia