The Blue Mosque
American Military University
The Blue Mosque is an architecture designed and built in the 17th century during the rule of Ahmed I. The mosque is currently a popular tourist site and a place of worship for Muslims in Turkey. Officially known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the historic building is located in Istanbul, Turkey. The mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 under Sultan Ahmed, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire (Goodwin, 2003). The structure consists of a hospice, Ahmed’s tomb, and a madrasah. The walls of the building are also hand-painted with blue tiles; and its five primary domes, eight secondary domes, and six minarets are spectacular.
I chose this Mosque because it is unique and has a significant symbol of peace. It was the first empire mosque in the Ottoman Empire after 40 years, and it was inspired by the failure at war and the success of a peace treaty. The mosque was constructed by Sedefhar Mehmet Aga, a royal architect in the Ottoman Empire, and the son of the famous architect Mimar Sinan (Goodwin, 2003). The Blue Mosque is an impressive monument architecturally, and it carries essential features of an Islamic place of worship. Thus, the significant contribution in Islamic civilization, and its spectacular outlook, make the mosque interesting and important for analysis.
The Blue Mosque represents the Islamic civilization since the beginning of two centuries of mosque development in the Ottoman Empire. The Mosque reasserted the power of the Ottoman Empire following the defeat by Persia during the Ottoman–Safavid War which lasted between 1603 and 1618 (Levine, 2004). The Ottoman Empire was a Turkish state that controlled Southeastern Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia between 14th and 20th century. Before the rule of Ahmed I, preceding emperors used to construct mosques using the proceeds gained out of war. However, since Ahmed did not win any major war, he built the Blue Mosque using the treasury funds because he had not gained any significant victory. The Mosque also represented a period of peace following the peace treaty of Zsitvatorok in 1606 which was signed between the Ottoman Empire and Habsburg Monarchy to end the war that took place for fifteen years (Levine, 2004). The Mosque was also located strategically at the site of the Byzantine palace in Istanbul as a sign of an imperial mosque with a symbolic meaning for the empire.
The title of architectural piece of art is Sultan Ahmed Mosque, named after the emperor who constructed it. The word Sultan is an Arabic word for a ruler, which means strength or authority (Blair and Bloom, 1994). Thus, the mosque’s name depicts an empire mosque built with the authority of the ruler. The mosque is also popularly known as the Blue Mosque due to its color theme. The walls are painted with blue tiles, and at night it is lit with blue lights.
The Blue Mosque was created using a design that marked the beginning of the development of Ottoman mosque. The design integrates traditional Islamic architecture with Byzantine Christian elements borrowed from the Hagia Sophia. Sedefkâr Mehmed A?a used ideas from his master Sinan to espouse a majestic and splendid design, and an overwhelming size. One of the most important features of the mosque is the six minarets and approximately 260 lightened windows to make the mosque unique (Blair and Bloom, 1994). The piece was also designed to include madrasah in the form of a social complex. The building also consists of Sultan Resting Room designed for the ruler to rest after a period of prayer. The building is made of ceramic tiles on the wall and the roof, and stained glass in the lower area. The tiles at the bottom are made of traditional design while the top tiles are decorated with flamboyant cypresses, fruit, and flowers.
The art was created for various purposes. First, the Sultan was motivated to create the building as a sign of power for the Ottoman Empire following the defeat of the empire by Persia. The art piece marked the beginning of empire mosque development to represent the prosperity and protection of the empire (Blair and Bloom, 1994). Furthermore, the Blue Mosque was created as a sign of peace after the kingdom experienced a period of peace after war. It shows that the Ottoman Empire has made peace as part of the Islamic civilization process. The Mosque would act as a place of protection and safety for the Sultan; a sanctuary for the leadership and prosperity of the empire.
The Blue Mosque also acted as a place of worship and cultural heritage for the Islamic civilization during the Ottoman Empire. Apart from being a tourist attraction site where people across the world go to learn about the Sultans and experiences of the Ottoman Empire, the mosque is also used for prayers (Levine, 2004). The Sultan used the mosque to pray for peace and Allah’s protection of the empire. Until today, people go the mosque to pray, especially on Fridays and holy days dedicated under the Islamic religion for worship and prayer. Thus, the mosque symbolized the unity of Muslims in the Ottoman Empire and the rest of the world.
Blair, S.S., and Bloom, J.M. (1994). The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250–1800. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Goodwin, G. (2003). A History of Ottoman Architecture. London: Thames ; Hudson Ltd.
Levine, L. (2004). Frommer’s Turkey: From the Blue Mosque to the Blue Lagoon. Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide.