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Sultan Ahmed Complex

It is located in front of the Hagia Sophia, in the Eminönü district of Istanbul. The architect of the complex is Sedefkar Mehmed Aga, who was appointed the head architect after Sinan the Architect’s death. The Sultan Ahmed Complex is one of the greatest complexes in Istanbul. Construction began with a big ceremony in 1609, and it was completed in 1616. The building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior paneling of more than 20,000 blue and white Iznik tiles which include floral motifs. According to Evliya Celebi, the famous 17th centruy Ottoman traveler and writer, seven palaces were pulled down for this monumental structure. Being one of the last samples of the Classical Ottoman architectural heritage adds a different value to the complex. 

Primary structures of the complex include the mosque, imaret(soup kitchen), madrasah (Qur'an School), Hünkar Kasrı (sultan’s summer palace), bath, fountain, darüşşifa (hospital), sıbyan mektebi (Ottoman elementary-primary school), arasta (Ottoman bazaar), sebil (public fountain), lodgings, houses and cellars. Information about structures of the complex are given in “Akarat-ı Vakf-ı Şerif “ in details. 

Mosque

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) is the only one which has 6 minarets among mosques in Istanbul. The four minarets with three sherefes each (minaret balcony) were erected at the four corners of the mosque, and the remaining two short minarets with two sherefes each were erected opposite at two corners of the courtyard. The central dome, placed on four piers, is 33.6 meters in diameter and 43 meters high at its central point.  It is supported by four semi-domes. The ceiling structure of the Blue mosque is similar to the Şehzadebaşı (Prince) Mosque.

The interior of the mosque, which is 64X72 m, is lighted with 260 windows. The outer courtyard, encircled with windowed walls, has eight doors on both sides and in front. The inner courtyard with marble floor coverings is enclosed with 30 domes. The tulip and carnations motifs of the fountain with six columns in the inner courtyard is eye-catching. It is entered by the inner court with three doors. Those three doors and the main door of the outer court are made of bronze.  On the pulpit of the mosque with nacre-inlay, the embroidered muezzin mahfil (a gallery/platform for the call to prayer) and the niche were worked with the architectural details. In addition, it has artistic value with carpets, kilims, rahles (reading desks), engravings, and colourful stained-glass windows.

Other Structures

Hunkar Kasrı is one of the structures of the Sultan Ahmed Complex.  The residence of  Sultan built in outer court of the mosque for his brief rest, both before and after prayer was reconstructed after the fire in 1949. The tomb of the complex built on a square plan with a dome is located at the northwest corner of the complex. Sultan Ahmed I, Kösem Sultan,his wife, his sons, Murad IV., Osman II., as well as some of his grandchildren were buried in the tomb.The building located next to the wall of the outer court is Sıbyan Mektebi, Ottoman elementary-primary school. There are shops and fountains located on the first floor of the Sıbyan Mektebi, and the classroom on the second floor. There is mosaic museum in one section of the Arasta Çarşı (Ottoman Bazaar), which is located on Qıbla (direction of prayer) of the Complex,  today, the remaining section is being used as souvenir shops. Imaret (soup kitchen) and daruşşifa (hospital) situated on the bank of Sokullu Mehmet Paşa are being used as Sultan Ahmed Technical High School. Three of the complex’ fountains were extant. One of them is based in Ottoman Bazaar, the second one is at the door of outer court, the third one is near the tomb.


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