Monday, October 26, 2009

Turkey | Istanbul | Blue Mosque

The historic core of old Istanbul, centered around the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, is known as Sultanahmed, after Sultan Ahmed I (1590–1617). As you no doubt recall from your readings in Ottoman history it was Sultan Ahmed who ordered the construction of the the Blue Mosque, which was built between 1609 and 1616. The deeply religious Sultan Ahmed attempted to make attendance at Friday Mosque services mandatory and outlawed the consumption of alcohol, but he was also an accomplished poet who wrote under the pen name Bakhti. He was famous for his skills in horseback riding and fencing. Despite his early promise he encountered setbacks on the battlefield, the ultimate proving grounds for Ottoman rulers, and had to make concession to Austria and Persia, losing in the process control of Georgia and Armenia. The Blue Mosque itself was controversial because the funds for its construction came not from plunder of foreign lands, as was the tradition up until then among the Ottomans, but from the State Coffers. The Blue Mosque is also unusual in that it has six minarets. When it was pointed out to Sultan Ahmed that the only other mosque with six minarets was in Mecca he immediately donated money to the Mecca mosque so that it could built a seventh, thus avoiding the impression that he was trying to equal or surpass Mecca in grandeur.
The Blue Mosque from in front of the Hagia Sofia
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque and attendant bazaar. The rents from the bazaar went to the upkeep of the mosque.
Entrance to the Blue Mosque
Courtyard of the Blue Mosque
Front on the Blue Mosque
Interior of Blue Mosque
Interior of Blue Mosque
Ceiling of Blue Mosque