Blue Mosque Istanbul- Why is it so famous? (Updated in 2023)

Blue Mosque Istanbul- Why is it so famous? (Updated in 2023)

Sultanahmet Mosque

The Blue Mosque Istanbul is a major one you should definitely visit in Istanbul. As known, Istanbul [1] has a huge history, and the Sultanahmet Square and mosque are one of the cornerstones of this fascinating city. Recent restoration activities have just been completed and right now the mosque shows all its beauties.

The Blue Mosque is located just opposite Hagia SophiaWhich one do you think is greater? Not a good idea to compare the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

Blue Mosque
Sultanahmet Mosque

As we already explained in Hagia Sophia’s post [2], the current museum which was converted from the mosque and once upon a time it was a church contains a huge history. So, that is why Hagia Sophia is too different than other religious places.

While we were visiting both Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Mosque, we heard some questions. Some tourists were having a confusion indeed, “which one is Hagia Sophia?”, “Which one is Blue Mosque?”. It is pretty easy. Just count the minarets. You will see four minarets for Hagia Sophia and you will see six minarets for the Blue Mosque. With this simple math, you will find out the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Please note that there are many versions called out. Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet, Sultan Ahmet, Sultanahmed, Sultan Ahmed, etc. are basically the same thing :). Moreover, Sultanahmet Camii is the Turkish version.

Blue Mosque Istanbul- The Background

The six minarets story makes this fascinating mosque different than other mosques. There are some resources talking about this mosque has been constructed intentionally with six minarets. After checking the design of the current structure before construction, Sultan Ahmed was amazed and ordered the construction. Basically, he wanted six minarets from the beginning. However, the minaret count was equal to the Prophet’s mosque in Mecca- Masjid al-Haram. So, the sultan was blamed with arrogance. Due to these problems at that time, the sultan ordered to add one more minaret to the mosque in Mecca and he solved the problems.

The other stories look like more fairytales. The sultan ordered gold minarets (altin in Turkish), but the designer understood them as six minarets (alti in Turkish). So, that is the reason for six minarets. But, this looks like a story that was transferred through the generations. The sultan was living in Topkapi Palace, so they were really close to the square. It can be checked easily, right? So this was an easy mistake, but who knows? The other story is about the sultan who ordered gold minarets, but the empire didn’t have enough money and the designer decided to construct six minarets.

Sultan Ahmed’s point of view

Another thing is, the Ottomans had a generic rule. “If you defeat another empire in a war, okay it is time to construct a great building.” However, while the sultan ordered the construction, he didn’t have such a huge victory, so that was not a good time at all. Additionally, Persians had victories against Ottomans in this period. So, he wanted to show the empire’s strength to every opponent. For this reason, he was also blamed, but he told that “all the blamers should count this fantastic figure for my victories in the near future.” Unfortunately, he didn’t live for a long time, though. He passed away in 1617 and his tomb is also in the mosque area.

Blue Mosque Istanbul- Overview

The square is very popular and one of the best tourist attractions in Istanbul and Turkey. It still continues its function. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616. The facility contains Sultan Ahmed’s tomb, madrasah, and hospice. Sibyan Mektebi is being used as the Mosque Information Center right now. You can check the free presentation of the mosque here.  

The Blue Mosque Istanbul- Exterior
The Blue Mosque Istanbul- Exterior

Basically, the main dome’s inner diameter is 23.5 meters, the outer diameter is 43 meters and the minaret’s height is 64 meters. [3]

The Sultanahmet Mosque is also called the Blue Mosque because of the dominant blue tiles. It contains more than 20,000 hand-made blue, green, and white tiles. They are the Iznik-style tiles.

The architect is Sedefkar Mehmet. Additionally, Sedefkar Mehmed constructed the mosque with late classical Ottoman influences. It is perfectly symmetrical and you can also see Hagia Sophia‘s influence on the mosque.

The interior is very amazing and inspiring. The chandeliers are good and they used ostrich eggs to avoid cobwebs. The calligraphy is also amazing, many of them made by Seyyid Kasim Gubari contain verses from Qur’an.

The Mosque’s dress code

Check this figure out. As we mentioned before, the mosque continues to serve as a mosque. So, the environment itself is still dynamic. Due to being still used as a mosque, you should be careful about your dress. It is simple, you should cover yourself a little bit and that is all. Basically, as a man, you should wear at least shorts to cover your knee. Of course, you need a sweater or T-shirt to cover your upper body :). If you are a woman, you also need something to cover your legs. And your upper section should not be exposed. To cover your head, there is a free scarf served by the mosque. Make sure you are good to go based on this figure.

The Blue Mosque Istanbul- Dress Code
The Blue Mosque- Dress Code

The Blue Mosque Istanbul- call to prayers

This is six times during the day. For this reason, it is prohibited to check the mosque inside during praying- 90 minutes per each. On Friday, it is tougher. Since Friday noon praying is a very crowded activity, you should wait till 2.30 p.m. The mosque is open every day.

The Blue Mosque Istanbul- admission fee

There is no entrance fee. So, there is no need to question Museum Pass [4] or other methods for this mosque. However, you can still donate to the mosque.

What makes the Blue Mosque Istanbul so famous?

It is the main mosque in Istanbul. Blue tiles, stained glasses, domes, squares, and calligraphies; they are all amazing. So this combination makes the Sultanahmet Camii (Sultanahmet Mosque) makes so famous. Additionally, the Suleymaniye Mosque can be thought of second best.

Which district is the Blue Mosque Istanbul in?

It is in the Fatih region. Moreover, it is very close to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Hippodrome. The square location is amazing. It is on the European side of Istanbul.

Can you pray and can you visit?

You can both pray in the mosque and visit the mosque. This makes the mosque a special one.

Blue Mosque Istanbul- interior

There are three entrances to the mosque from the square and around. Inside the mosque, there are over 20,000 Iznik hand-made tiles. There is a huge dome surrounded by a semi-dome on each of the four sides. Four pillars also called elephant legs support the domes [5]. Additionally, 260 windows provide good brightness inside the mosque.

The Blue Mosque Interior

You are already aware of Mihrab which shows the direction of Mecca and Minbar where the Imam gives the sermon.

It is also interesting that the mosque has a private Sultan lodge for his pray. It is normally where everyone has the same right during praying, however, the Sultans mostly preferred to have a private lodge.

Some generic questions about the Blue Mosque Istanbul

Is Blue Mosque originally Christian?

Good question, but it was never Christian.

Is Blue Mosque the wonder of the world?

Another good question, but unfortunately it is not. As you are aware, Hagia Sophia was one of the top twenty finalists. Don’t forget they are not the same buildings.

Blue mosque- how much time?

One or two hours will definitely be sufficient for the mosque. As a kind reminder, there are many good places you should definitely visit around the mosque and the square such as the Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Basilica Cistern. So, one day would be enough totally.

Blue mosque- the best time to visit?

You can see the post about the best time to visit Istanbul. It would be good to keep that in mind, so we don’t have a special warning for you other than mentioned in this post. [6]

Key Reminders

We saw it once but didn’t notice when we checked the mosque last time. Please ignore people who offer you to enter the mosque. If the line is long, don’t worry. The long line will finish at least 10 minutes after Friday noon praying.

Since people are still allowed to pray, it is good to remain quiet and it is also good not to use flash for photos.

Prayer Entrance

How to Reach the Blue Mosque- Transportation Guide

How to go to Sultanahmet from Topkapi Palace

It is very close, just 3-4 minutes of walking.

How to go to Sultanahmet from Hagia Sophia

It is very close, just 3 minutes of walking. You will definitely notice the Blue Mosque since it is the opposite of Hagia Sophia.

How to go to Sultanahmet from Taksim

Unfortunately, traffic jams can be frustrating in Istanbul. So, we first recommend you use the railways to reach your destinations.

  • By taxi, you can go there in 20 minutes from Taksim Square. It is around 5 km or 3 miles.
  • If you like walking, this can take an hour to reach the region. This can be very tiring, however, there is a great route. You can check Beyoglu, Galata Tower, Karakoy, Eminonu, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar , and finally reach Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet. What do you think?
  • Okay, here is the best option. You can catch F1 (Taksim-Kabatas funicular) and then transfer to T1 (Bagcilar Kabatas tramway line). You can get off the train at the Sultanahmet stop. If you want you can walk to Kabatas by walking and then skip F1- the funicular. It is just 15 minutes of walking.

How to go to Sultanahmet from Dolmabahce Palace [7]

This one is easy. You can catch the M1 from Kabatas.

How to go to Sultanahmet from Kadikoy [8]

The most feasible two options are as follows.

  • You can go to Eminonu by city line or Turyol ferries. And then, you can catch T1 or walk from Eminonu.
  • You can also go by M4 metro from Kadikoy to Ayrilik Cesmesi and transfer to Marmaray and go to Sirkeci. It is just 10-15 minutes after Sirkeci.

How to go to Sultanahmet from Ataturk airport

Ataturk Airport is not active anymore for commercial flights. The transition period is completed. However, we still would like to keep these options whether you need them. The distance from this airport to Hagia Sophia Istanbul is around 20 km or 32 miles. Especially, what we said above (recommending railways) can be challenging in some situations with huge suitcases.

  • The best option is definitely to catch a taxi.
  • The second option would be to go to Taksim by Havabus and then you can catch a taxi or follow the guidelines above.
  • The other options are challenging. One of them is to catch M1, walk a little bit and then catch T1. The second one is to catch M1 again and then transfer to Marmaray and then walk for around 10 minutes.

How to go to Sultanahmet from the new Istanbul airport

New Istanbul Airport is pretty far away from the city center. You can catch the bus Yenikapi-Sirkeci from the new airport. And then, you can get off the bus at the nearest station to Hagia Sophia. Actually, since it is above 50 km, the taxi option might be costly.

Havaist is the operator. So, you can check their site for the latest updates. [9]


Istanbul has a huge history. Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Mosque whatever you call it is one of the best places that should definitely be visited. The mosque is the top mosque in Istanbul, so don’t miss it if you have a chance.

Note: This post is updated in August 2023.



Istanbul Fantasy