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HISTORY OF THE BLUE MOSQUE, THE APPLE OF ISTANBUL’S EYE

Sultanahmet Camii

Sultanahmet Mosque, one of the most fascinating pieces of Istanbul's skyline, is also, at the same time, one of the most important symbols of Istanbul. And it is not only its magnificent appearance that makes it so fascinating. The Blue Mosque has many distinctive features separating it from other mosques such as being the first mosque with six minarets. In this article, we will share with you the history of the Blue Mosque, which is admired by everyone visiting Istanbul. Here is the crucial history of the apple of Istanbul's eye!

 

The commissioner of the mosque is Ahmed the First, who sat on the throne when he was 14 years old..

The Blue Mosque, one of the most important works of Ottoman history, was built by the architect, Mehmet Aga, at the request of Sultan Ahmet I. It is stated in many sources that Ahmed the First, who sat on the throne as the 14th Ottoman sultan at the age of 14 in 1603, was a highly religious person. 

At the beginning of the 17th century, many of the hills of Istanbul were filled with mosques bearing the name of the sultans. In addition, Sultan Ahmet had a desire to build a temple of unprecedented beauty as a token of gratefulness to God.
 

The Emperor chooses the Ayşe Sultan Palace...

Sultan Ahmet ordered a suitable place to be found for the construction of the temple. Out of all the places, the emperor chose the Ayşe Sultan Palace which lay on the side of the hippodrome facing the qiblah. The palace overlooked the sea, the area was very broad, it was close to the Topkapi Palace and the surroundings were not too crowded. For this reason, it was an ideal place for the magnificent shrine to be built. Sultan Ahmed paid Ayşe Hanım “30 loads of pure gold dinar” and purchased the palace and the owner was indeed very pleased with the transaction.

 

Mehmet Ağa head architect of the palace...

Mimar Mehmet Ağa

Architect Mehmet Ağa was the chief architect of the palace in those years. Mehmet Aga was a great architect renowned for his great skills in architecture. He was therefore commissioned by the emperor to build the mosque. Sultan Ahmed asked Mehmet Aga to build a mosque that could compete with magnificent monuments such as Hagia Sophia and Suleymaniye Mosque. After lengthy efforts, Mehmet Aga drew up the plan of the mosque and presented it to the sultan. Sultan Ahmed listened to the architect's explanations, liked and approved the plan.

 

“O Lord, Ahmed is your most loyal servant, please accept his offering!”

In 1609, Sultan Ahmed broke ground on the mosque on a sunny Thursday. The pickax he used to do this with is on display in Topkapı Palace. When work was underway to break ground on the mosque, the sultan was carrying soil in his lap and prayed “O Lord, Ahmed is your most loyal servant, please accept his offering!” Below is a description of that day from the mouth of Evliya Çelebi:

"All master architects and engineers gathered and work was started to break the ground accompanied by the prayers of Üsküdarlı Mahmut Efendi and our master Evliya Efendi.”  Firstly, Sultan Ahmed filled his lap with soil and prayed “O Lord, Ahmed is your most loyal servant, please accept his offering!” carrying soil with the workers...

 

The construction took 7 years, 5 months and 6 days...

sultanahmet camii tarihi

Construction of the mosque was completed in seven years. Finally, on Friday, June 2, 1616, a magnificent opening ceremony was held, with the sultan and high-ranking state officials also present. A great banquet was offered to the guests by the sultan and the mosque was opened with prayers. The colorful brightness in the Blue Mosque, its fancy walls decorated with tiles, its doorways embellished with mother of pearl, its 6 minarets and appearance, which made the silhouette of Istanbul even more beautiful, aroused admiration. Back then, people called it the “New Mosque”. It was renamed the “Blue Mosque” after the construction of another mosque in Eminönü called the New Mosque.

 

A single mosque with 6 minarets...

We mentioned above that the Sultanahmet Mosque was the only mosque with 6 minarets. Sultan Ahmet had asked it to be done so as to build a magnificent mosque that stood out from the others. But it drew backlash from the Muslim community. Because back then, Mecca was the only temple with 6 minarets. So, people perceived it as disrespect to the Kaaba. To resolve the issue, Sultan Ahmet had another minaret built and pacified the dissident voices.

 

An inner brightness found in no other temple...

The Blue Mosque has a unique place not just because of its 6 minarets but also because of its interior decorations and interior lighting. Due to the blue color that dominates the interior of the mosque, it is still known as the Blue Mosque today. The cost of the mosque was quite high and the unique architecture was complemented with unique decorations. It is rumored that the chandeliers cost a fortune at the time the mosque was built.

The Blue Mosque, a unique Ottoman structure with a unique appearance, is visited by millions of local and foreign tourists every year. What falls upon us is to preserve this heritage in the best possible way and help it to be passed on to future generations ...

 

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