The Sultan Ahmet Mosque, better known to foreigners as “The Blue Mosque“, was built during 1609-1616 under the rule of Ahmet I. While the Sultan’s predecessors had paid for other mosques with the profits from wars, Ahmet I had to extract the funds from the treasury, as he had achieved no notable victories. It was carried out by architect Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa, a former student of Mimar Sinan.
The mosque was once part of a large complex, which included Turkish baths, public kitchens, schools, a hospital, a covered bazaar, and Sultan Ahmet’s tomb.
The interior is lined with over 20,000 handcrafted ceramic İznik tiles. Large low-hanging chandeliers bath the floor in yellow light. Verses from the Qur’an are scribed in masterful strokes. With elaborate detailing dripping from every surface, it’s impossible to spend more than a moment admiring a single tile, arch, dome, or pillar before the next one begs for your attention.