Travel to Istanbul and visit the Sultanahmed Mosque
In Eastern Europe you’ll find Istanbul, the biggest city in Turkey. This marvelous destination will make you travel in time thanks to its impressive landscapes and spectacular monuments. The beauty of Istanbul is owed, in great measure, to its history, given that it was the capital of two great empires: the Byzantine and the Ottoman.
In your trip to this great city you must visit the Sultanahmed Mosque, also known as Blue Mosque, an iconic building from the 17th century.
History of the Blue Mosque
The history behind this monumental construction is particularly interesting, since it was built with the purpose of competing with the temple of Hagia Sophia, which is located just in front of the Blue Mosque. Said temple was built in the Byzantine period for the Christian cult, and it’s another magnanimous work you should visit on your trip to Istanbul.
When the Ottoman Empire was established, Islam was introduced and, with it, the construction of beautiful mosques. Therefore, Sultan Ahmed ordered a great mosque to be built right in front of Hagia Sophia on an area that was previously occupied by the Palace of Constantinople.
The Most Important Mosque in Istanbul
The Blue Mosque is one of the most visited monuments by tourists from all around the world. This is due to its beauty and its cultural and artistic wealth. Also, it has received visits from two heads of the Catholic church: Pope Benedict XVI and, more recently, Pope Francis, both of whom prayed facing Mecca as a sign of respect for the Muslim tradition. In fact, actions such as these remind us that the Blue Mosque is a meeting point for travelers from different cultures, beliefs and customs; and in DINKtravelers we deem it as a site that brings humanity together through the experience of admiration for beauty.
Despite being a touristic attraction, the temple continues to be an important place of cult, so five times a day they close it for about thirty minutes. If you’re in the area when the mosque is closed, profit the chance to admire the structure from outside. You’ll find six tall columns around it, which are known as minarets. When they were built, they caused a stir in the community because the only mosque that possessed the same number of minarets before that was the Great Mosque of Mecca. In order to appease those who showed displeasure at that similarity, the sultan ordered a seventh minaret to be built in the Great Mosque.
Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
Before going inside you must follow some rules like taking off your shoes and, if you’re a woman, covering your head. Once inside you’ll spot right away the element that gives this awe-inspiring monument its name: twenty thousand blue tiles decorate the walls and their color looks even more intense thanks to a series of huge chandeliers. You’ll be overwhelmed by that sight of lights and color.
The mosque is located in Sultanahmed Square and you can get there by taking the tram (line 1) and getting off at Sultanahmed station. After visiting it, continue your tour to other nearby attractions such as Hagia Sophia, the Turkish Baths and the famed Grand Bazaar.