There is an extremely good reason why Istanbul is one of the most visited city-break destinations in the world. The old landmarks of former Byzantine and Constantinople stand in the Sultan Ahmet area and draw in thousands of visitors every month, who are eager to see the iconic buildings that once belonged to two of the greatest empires in history.
One such building is the stunning and exceptionally beautiful Blue Mosque.
Known as one of the greatest buildings in the world, it is often first on any must-see list of the city.
9 Facts about the Blue Mosque of Istanbul
1: It is also called the Sultan Ahmet cami, (cami is Turkish for mosque) due to its location in the Sultan Ahmet district, that holds all sites belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
2: It is open every day of the year but closed at prayer times for 90 minutes. Muslims may still arrive at the mosque outside of prayer time, so visitors are asked to be respectful, and avoid flash photography.
3: Construction was completed in 1619 by Sedefhar Mehmet Ağa, a student of Mimar Sinan who was the favourite architect of the Ottoman sultans.
4: It has 260 stained glass windows
5: The 20,000 blue tiles adorning the interior were made in Iznik, an area that was famous during the Ottoman Empire for its expert production of ceramic tiles. These tiles also gave themselves to the name of the mosque.
6: The architecture is a blend of Ottoman and Byzantine styles
7: The mosque is most famous for its six minarets, accompanied by one large dome and eight smaller domes.
8: In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Blue mosque. This visit was repeated in 2014 by Pope Francis
9: In 2009, USA president Barrack Obama arrived in Istanbul and toured the Blue Mosque along with Recep Tayip Erdogan, the former prime minster of Turkey.
We visit the Blue mosque and other historical sites of Istanbul on our day and weekly package tour. Our private Old City Istanbul tour explores all the UNESCO World Heritage sites dating from the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Find out more here.