Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)
Blue Mosque © Dennis Jarvis
The Sultan Ahmet Camii, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, with its tiers of magnificent domes and six graceful minarets is one of the most striking and immediately distinguishable structures on Istanbul's skyline. Constructed as an Islamic rival to the Hagia Sophia in 1609, it is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture and is still used by hundreds of worshippers.
The interior is splendidly decorated with thousands of blue and white Iznik tiles embellished with traditional Ottoman flower patterns, and it is this special feature that gives the mosque its name. Its design of successively descending smaller domes, soaring columns and 260 stained glass windows leaves a lasting impression of graceful accord and open space. At the back of the mosque is a Carpet and Kilim Museum exhibiting antiques from all over Turkey.
Address: Hippodrome, Sultanahmet
Transport: Disembark at the Sultanahmet tram stop.
Opening times: Open daily, access restricted during prayer times, especially at midday on Fridays. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday between 9am and 4pm.
Admission: There is no charge for visiting the mosque, but the museum has a small entrance fee.