Istanbul's most famous mosque is known as the Turkish Blue Mosque not because of the colour from the outside but because of the blue tiles inside on the upper level. It is definitely worth a visit if you are staying nearby but bear in mind that it is still a working mosque so it will be closed during the five daily prayers as well as on the Muslim holy day. History states that the Mosque was commissioned by then Sultan Ahmet I. Work began in 1609 and it took a total of seven years to complete. It is said that the Sultan was so keen for the Mosque to be completed as soon as possible that he sometimes helped out. Unfortunately the Sultan died only a year after the Mosque was completed and he is now buried outside with his wife and three sons.
The original Turkish blue Mosque complex included a madrasa and a hospital as well as a primary school and a market. However most of these elements were removed in the 19th century. Perhaps the most striking feature of this Mosque is the six minarets. It is this feature that makes this Mosque different to others since the majority tend to have either four, two, or just one minaret. It is said that when the Sultan informed his architect to make gold minarets he misunderstood what had been said as six minarets. At the time this caused quite a problem since the holiest Mosque in the world also had six minarets. To amend this, the sultan sent his architect to Mecca and instructed him to add a seventh minaret. This Mosque also has a stunning cascade of domes that sweep down from the great central dome and add to its majestic air.
For those wishing to view the Mosque it is important that you adhere to the rules set out. Those who are non-worshippers will need to enter via the north entrance and it is important to remember that you must remove your shoes upon entering. Also bear in mind that modest dress is require and women will need to cover their heads. Above the gate hang symbolic chains to encourage people to bow their head when they enter the Turkish blue Mosque. Inside the Mosque are a number of tiles, including the blue tiles that give it its name. There are 260 windows which were once filled with 17th-century stained glass but this has unfortunately been replaced.