Blue Mosque: The Jewel of Is­tan­bul

The Miracle - - Youth -

Ar­chi­tec­ture

The Sul­tan Ahmed Mosque has one main dome, six minarets, and eight sec­ondary domes. The de­sign is the cul­mi­na­tion of two cen­turies of Ot­toman mosque devel­op­ment. It in­cor­po­rates some Byzan­tine Chris­tian el­e­ments of the neigh­bor­ing Ha­gia Sophia with tra­di­tional Is­lamic ar­chi­tec­ture and is con­sid­ered to be the last great mosque of the clas­si­cal pe­riod. The ar­chi­tect, Sede­fkâr Mehmed Ağa, syn­the­sized the ideas of his master Si­nan, aim­ing for over­whelm­ing size, majesty and splen­dour. In­te­rior At its lower lev­els and at ev­ery pier, the in­te­rior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 hand­made İznik style ce­ramic tiles, made at Iznik (the an­cient Ni­caea) in more than fifty dif­fer­ent tulip de­signs. The tiles at lower lev­els are tra­di­tional in de­sign, while at gallery level their de­sign be­comes flam­boy­ant with rep­re­sen­ta­tions of flow­ers, fruit and cy­presses. The tiles were made un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the Iznik master. The price to be paid for each tile was fixed by the sul­tan’s de­cree, while tile prices in gen­eral in­creased over time. As a re­sult, the qual­ity of the tiles used in the build­ing de­creased grad­u­ally. The up­per lev­els of the in­te­rior are dom­i­nated by blue paint. More than 200 stained glass win­dows with in­tri­cate de­signs ad­mit nat­u­ral light, to­day as­sisted by chan­de­liers. On the chan­de­liers, os­trich eggs are found that were meant to avoid cob­webs in­side the mosque by re­pelling spi­ders. The dec­o­ra­tions in­clude verses from the Qur’an, many of them made by Seyyid Kasim Gubari, re­garded as the great­est cal­lig­ra­pher of his time. The floors are cov­ered with car­pets, which are do­nated by the faith­ful and are reg­u­larly re­placed as they wear out. The many spa­cious win­dows con­fer a spa­cious im­pres­sion. The case­ments at floor level are dec­o­rated with opus sec­tile. Each exe­dra has five win­dows, some of which are blind. Each semi-dome has 14 win­dows and the cen­tral dome 28 (four of which are blind). The coloured glass for the win­dows was a gift of the Sig­no­ria of Venice to the sul­tan. Most of these coloured win­dows have by now been re­placed by mod­ern ver­sions with lit­tle or no artis­tic merit. The most im­por­tant el­e­ment in the in­te­rior of the mosque is the mihrab, which is made of finely carved and sculp­tured mar­ble, with a sta­lac­tite niche and a dou­ble in­scrip­tive panel above it. It is sur­rounded by many win­dows. The ad­ja­cent walls are sheathed in ce­ramic tiles. To the right of the mihrab is the richly dec­o­rated min­ber, or pul­pit, where the imam stands when he is de­liv­er­ing his ser­mon at the time of noon prayer on Fri­days or on holy days. The mosque has been de­signed so that even when it is at its most crowded, ev­ery­one in the mosque can see and hear the imam. The royal kiosk is sit­u­ated at the south-east cor­ner. It com­prises a plat­form, a log­gia and two small re­tir­ing rooms. It gives ac­cess to the royal loge in the south-east up­per gallery of the mosque. These re­tir­ing rooms be­came the head­quar­ters of the Grand Vizier dur­ing the sup­pres­sion of the re­bel­lious Janis­sary Corps in 1826. The royal loge (hünkâr mah­fil) is sup­ported by ten mar­ble col­umns. It has its own mihrab, which used to be dec­o­rated with a jade rose and gilt and with one hun­dred Qu­rans on an in­laid and gilded lecterns. The many lamps in­side the mosque were once cov­ered with gold and gems. Among the glass bowls one could find os­trich eggs and crys­tal balls. All these dec­o­ra­tions have been re­moved or pil­laged for mu­se­ums. The great tablets on the walls are in­scribed with the names of the caliphs and verses from the Qu­ran. They were orig­i­nally by the great 17th-cen­tury cal­lig­ra­pher Seyyid Kasim Gubari of Di­yarbakır but have been re­peat­edly re­stored.

Ex­te­rior

The fa­cade of the spa­cious fore­court was built in the same man­ner as the fa­cade of the Sü­ley­maniye Mosque, ex­cept for the ad­di­tion of the tur­rets on the cor­ner domes. The court is about as large as the mosque it­self and is sur­rounded by a con­tin­u­ous vaulted ar­cade (re­vak). It has ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties on both sides. The cen­tral hexag­o­nal foun­tain is small rel­a­tive to the court­yard. The mon­u­men­tal but nar­row gate­way to the court­yard stands out ar­chi­tec­turally from the ar­cade. Its semi-dome has a fine sta­lac­tite struc­ture, crowned by a small ribbed dome on a tall tholo­bate. Its his­tor­i­cal ele­men­tary school (Sıbyan Mek­tebi) is used as “Mosque In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter” which is ad­ja­cent to its outer wall on the side of Ha­gia Sophia. This is where they pro­vide vis­i­tors with a free ori­en­ta­tional pre­sen­ta­tion on the Blue Mosque and Is­lam in gen­eral. A heavy iron chain hangs in the up­per part of the court en­trance on the west­ern side. Only the sul­tan was al­lowed to en­ter the court of the mosque on horse­back. The chain was put there, so that the sul­tan had to lower his head ev­ery time he en­tered the court to avoid be­ing hit. This was a sym­bolic ges­ture, to en­sure the hu­mil­ity of the ruler in the face of the di­vine.

Minarets

The Sul­tan Ahmed Mosque is first one of the two mosques in Tur­key that has six minarets, the sec­ond one be­ing the Sa­bancı Mosque in Adana. When the num­ber of minarets was re­vealed, the Sul­tan was crit­i­cized for be­ing pre­sump­tu­ous, since this was the same minarets num­ber as at the mosque of the Ka’aba in Mecca. He over­came this prob­lem by or­der­ing a sev­enth minaret to be built at the Mecca mosque. Four minarets stand at the cor­ners of the Blue Mosque. Each of these fluted, pen­cil­shaped minarets has three bal­conies (Called Şerefe) with sta­lac­tite cor­bels, while the two oth­ers at the end of the fore­court only have two bal­conies. Be­fore the muezzin or prayer caller had to climb a nar­row spi­ral stair­case five times a day to an­nounce the call to prayer. To­day, a public an­nounce sys­tem is be­ing used, and the call can be heard across the old part of the city, echoed by other mosques in the vicin­ity. Large crowds of both Turks and tourists gather at sun­set in the park fac­ing the mosque to hear the call to evening prayers, as the sun sets and the mosque is bril­liantly il­lu­mi­nated by col­ored flood­lights. Source: : SULTANAHMETCAMII.ORG

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