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How the Sultan Ahmed Mosque Was Built?

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One of the unique masterworks of the Ottoman Empire. Ordered by Sultan Ahmed I, the mosque was designed and built by the architect Sedefkar Mehmed Agha. Beginning in 1609, the construction was completed in 7,5 years. Because of the stunning blue paintwork, it is popularly known as the Blue Mosque. After these brief notes, let’s look at how this great masterpiece with 6 minarets was built, and begin with the site on which the mosque was built. Sultan Ahmed I asked that the mosque which would be named after him be built at a place called “At Meydanı”, and just across from Hagia Sophia.

However, there was Sultan Ayşe’s palace in the direction of the Qibla. The palace not only stood in the Qibla direction, but also took up a vast space. On Sultan Ahmed’s orders, Sultan Ayse was paid 30,000 gold and the land was seized by the government. After the land was cleared of the palace, the architect Sedefkar Mehmed Agha designed the complex as mosque, madrasah (a school of Islamic theology), mausoleum, primary school, royal kiosk, courtyard and market street.

Construction began with the main building. The shape of the prayer hall would be a rectangle that was almost a square and it would cover an area of 2647 square meters. Inspired by the design of the Şehzade Mosque, the architect Mehmed Agha aimed for a new and original approach in the interior, although on the exterior design he couldn’t go beyond the classical lines. This is why he planned and constructed the interior in the shape of four-leaf clover. But what differentiates the Sultan Ahmed Mosque from the Şehzade Mosque which inspired the architect Mehmed Agha so much?

With a height of 43 meters, the central dome rests on 4 pointed arches and 4 pendentives carried on 4 colossal cylindrical piers. These piers are one of the most exquisite examples of Turkish architecture in terms of diameter and measurement. Besides, despite their massive size, they have a convex surface. In order to relieve dimness the dome with a diameter of 23,5 meters caused, the architect pierced 260 windows into the domes. Because of the composition of windows, the great dome looks like it’s hanging in the air. At that time, there was colored glass on windows with a flower motif.

Foreign travelers who had visited the mosque admired and praised these colored windows in their writings. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque where more than 20,000 Iznik tiles were used has a bluish atmosphere due to the sunlight reflected from those blue tiles. Another important feature of the mosque is that it is the only mosque having 6 minarets. The 4 of them have 3 balconies each, while the other 2 have only 2. And each minaret has an adornment different from the other’s. The outer courtyard is almost as big as the mosque’s site itself.

There is a heavy chain hanging from the west gate leading to the courtyard. It is said that the Sultan always entered the mosque on horseback. And every time he entered, he had to bow his head in order not to hit it. And that would remind him that even he had to behave properly in the face of the divine.

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