Turkey attracts visitors every year, and with its 25,000 year history, it’s not hard to see why. The country is the bridge between east and west; it’s a modern land that still follows many age-old traditions; and it’s a place where cultures and civilizations have merged to create stunning architecture and delicious cuisines, which you can learn more about in cooking classes. One of the greatest attractions is the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, which was built in 1609 in a classic Ottoman style.
Sultan Ahmet commissioned this Islamic place of worship that rivaled the famous Hagia Sophia, which stands right next door to the Blue Mosque and which visitors can also see during The International Kitchen’s Turkey cooking vacations. The Blue Mosque’s property originally included a variety of buildings, including a hospital, han (an inn), school, market, madras, imaret (hostel), and a tomb, but they were demolished in the 19th century.
Today, from a distance, visitors can recognize the Blue Mosque by its unusual six minarets, a distinctive piece of Turkish architecture on Islamic mosques that usually only number in the twos or fours. Up close, the exterior features a beautiful cascade of domes as well as some decorations on the west entrance. But it’s the inside of Sultan Ahmet Mosque that is truly the wonder to behold, as the walls are covered in 20,000 blue Iznik tiles as well as 260 windows in the main chamber. Many of the oldest tiles even date back to the 16th-century, and the whole experience is sure to take your breath away.
By Liz Hall
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Originally published October 24, 2012.