Built between 1609-1616 by Sultan Ahmet the 1st, the biggest mosque in Istanbul was created by architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga. Located in the heart of the old town and facing the Hagia Sophia Museum, the magnificent building measures 64m X 72m (213ft X 239ft), therefore it can be seen from quite a distance.
The Blue Mosque is the national mosque of Turkey and the historical mosque of Istanbul also known as The Sultan Ahmed Mosque. The building comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice.
The impressive interior has very wide and open spaces supported by huge columns. Beautiful Arabic patterns can be seen on the ceiling of the dome, while the fine iznik tile work covers the lower walls. The doors and windows and the carved stone of the mihrab and mimber. The exterior light comes in through 260 stained-glass windows and from the dome, 141 feet high, supported by four enormous circular pillars.
During summer evenings, there is a light show by the Blue mosque, at nine o'clock, and different parts of the building are lightened in different colors. In the same time, the story about the construction of the mosque can be heard in different languages.
The Blue Mosque is made blue by the blue tiles paving the walls of its interior.
In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI visited the mosque during his stay in Turkey, marking the second papal visit in the history of this place of worship. After removing his shoes, he turned towards Mecca in a gesture of Muslim prayer and conducted "Silent Prayer", standing side-by-side with Mustafa Çağrıcı, the Mufti of Istanbul and Emrullah Hatipoğlu, the Imam of the Blue Mosque.
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