|||

Blue Mosque

A beautiful and elaborate place of worship, the Blue Mosque is the most important legacy of a roguish Ottoman Sultan.

TravelCurious Tip

Time your visit carefully: prayer happens five times a day, the mosque closing for 90 minutes each time. And don’t forget to wear appropriately modest clothing.

Feeling blue

One of Istanbul’s most iconic buildings, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque was built in the early 17th century as an audacious reassertion of Ottoman power. It combines Byzantine Christian elements (as in the nearby Hagia Sophia) with traditional Islamic design in a stunning and intricate construction.

The mosque is famed for its magnificent blue interior. It is lined with over 20,000 handmade Iznik ceramic tiles in over 50 different designs, increasing in flamboyance from the lower levels up to the galleries. The upper levels are set with more than 200 stained-glass windows - the coloured glass was originally gifted by the Signoria of Venice - and enhanced by chandeliers. Gilded and set with gems, the chandeliers also intriguingly feature ostrich eggs at their centre, which are believed to repel spiders and insects.

Its mihrab - a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca - is a spectacular work of carved marble, and the minbar (the raised platform from which the Imam addresses a congregation) is richly embellished with perforated gold.


A bold statement

The outside of the mosque is just as impressive. Its huge central dome symbolises the Prophet himself as the radiant sun of the Islamic faith. Sultan Ahmet - already under fire for using public funds for the mosque, as he had no spoils of victory at his disposal - was accused of overstepping the mark by adding six minarets, the same number that adorn the Al-Haram mosque in Mecca; he solved the issue by adding a seventh minaret to Mecca’s mosque.

Adjoining the mosque is a vast courtyard, about the same size as the prayer hall itself. It is surrounded by vaulted arcades featuring ablution facilities, and over its western entrance hangs a heavy iron chain - this was to ensure that the Sultan had to bow his head as he entered in a display of humility.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Istanbul
Topkapi Palace
The Sultans’ royal residence for four centuries, today Topkapi Palace is a spectacular museum.
Süleymaniye Camii
Located on the Third Hill, Süleymaniye Camii is the largest mosque and one of the most distinctive sights in Istanbul.
The Bosphorus
Separating East and West, the dramatic Bosphorus strait is perfect for a fabulous cruise.
Sehzade Camii
Dedicated to Sultan Süleyman's son, this peaceful place showcases the early talents of Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.
Galata Köprüsü
The famous bridge over the Golden Horn, with wonderful views of old Istanbul.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Once the palace of Ibrahim Pasha, this museum houses a unique collection of calligraphy, tiles and rugs.

Related Tours

The Ultimate Full Day Tour of Istanbul
With this full-day highlights tour of Istanbul, you will gain a culturally-rich experience of both European and Asian traditions.

  • Learn about Istanbul's sporting history at the Hippodrome of Constantinople.
  • Gaze at the exterior of the phenomenal Blue Mosque.
  • Photograph the Byzantine architecture at Hagia Sophia.
  • Pause for a traditional Turkish meze lunch (not included in price).
  • Hear stories of the Ottoman sultans as you wander through The Topkapı Palace.
  • Descend beneath the city to Basilica Cistern.
  • Conclude with the colours and scents of Grand Bazaar.

Beauty of Istanbul

In this full-day highlights tour of the great city of Istanbul, you will have the pleasure of visiting some of the most iconic attractions of the city, accompanied by your knowledgeable expert city guide. Starting with the the Hippodrome of Constantinople, once used as an ancient Roman running and chariot racing track, and the epicentre of Byzantine life. 

You will then head to the absolutely stunning Blue Mosque, one of the most beautiful buildings in Istanbul, which was the 17th century triumph of Sultan Ahmet I. Look for the mosque's unique undulating exterior, featuring myriad domes and six slender minarets. Gorgeous blue Iznik tiles adorn the interior, giving the building its unique name. 

Venturing forth to the Hagia Sophia, commissioned by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, consecrated as a church in 537, converted to a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 and finally promoted as a museum by Atatürk in 1935- you will find exquisite artistry of Byzantine architecture and rich history of the region than than this great temple.


True Turkish Experience

You will be pleased to pause for a delicious traditional Turkish meze lunch (not included in price), after which you will be immersed in the fascinating history of Topkapi Palace. Extremely opulent, it was once the residence of countless Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th century. Look for the palace's fabulous pavilions, unbelievable Treasury and formal rooms.

You will then venture underground to the awe-inspiring Basilica Cistern, where you will learn about its impressive construction. You may even find two Medusa faces- just don’t stare into their eyes! Finishing off this once-in-a-lifetime tour, you will visit the colourful Grand Bazaar, which was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461. Explore the narrow lanes to watch craftsmen and artists at work, whilst stopping for an obligatory cup of traditional Turkish tea. 

Travel Curious Tip: We recommend re-visiting the Blue Mosque in your own time, and going inside. Dress respectfully, as it is a religious place of worship. 

We built this tour because 
a walking highlights tour allows first timers and those short on time to see all the key attractions Istanbul has to offer. 
The Best of Istanbul in Half a Day
This whistle-stop tour of Istanbul's highlights is great for those who wish to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time.

  • Wander through the mesmerising Blue Mosque.
  • Learn about Byzantine architecture and iconic Hagia Sophia.
  • Conclude with the colours and scents of Grand Bazaar.

Note: The Blue Mosque is a religious place of worship, so please dress respectfully. Shoulders and legs must be covered, and head coverings are available at the mosque entrance for free. You will also be given a bag at entry in which to put your shoes.


The Best of Istanbul

In this amazing half-day highlights walking tour of Istanbul, you will have the chance to be fully immersed in the history and culture of this great city. Your first stop will be to the absolutely stunning Blue Mosque, the 17th century triumph of Sultan Ahmet I, and one of the most beautiful buildings in Istanbul. Look out for the mosque's unique undulating exterior featuring myriad domes and six slender minarets. Gorgeous blue Iznik tiles adorn the interior, giving the building its unique name. 

Venturing forth to the Hagia Sophia, commissioned by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, consecrated as a church in 537, converted to a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 and finally promoted as a museum by Atatürk in 1935- you will find exquisite artistry of Byzantine architecture and rich history of the region than this great temple.

Divine Beauty 

As you enter the Hagia Sophia you can not help but be awestruck by the utter beauty of the extraordinary architecture and sense of the divine that will envelop you inside. The walls are covered with astonishing biblical images that miraculously have survived a tumultuous history. Do not feel overwhelmed, as your expert city guide will be talking you through the fascinating history of the building as well as the significance of the iconography and art you will find there.

Your final stop will be to the colourful Grand Bazaar, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, it expanded to eventually cover the vast labyrinthine treasure trove you see today. You will feel immersed in the ancient marketplace, exploring your way down narrow lanes to watch craftsmen and artists at work, whilst stopping for an obligatory Turkish treat and cup of mint tea. 

Travel Curious Tip: 
If you politely ask market sellers, they will wrap up fragile gifts for your flight home.

We built this tour because it allows visitors to appreciate the architectural beauty of Istanbul. 
Explore the Bosphorus Tour
A cruise along the Bosphorus allows visitors to see Istanbul's beautiful sights from the comfort of a boat.

  • Learn about the European and Asian cultures, which merge to make Istanbul unique
  • Cruise along the Bosphorus in a group cruise tour (1.5 hrs)
  • Photograph the beautiful architecture as you pass


Unique View of Istanbul

Explore the great city of Istanbul from the comfort and convenience of an extensive cruise on the Bosphorus. You will have the pleasure of learning about the famous stretch of water that straddles both the Asian and European continents as you cruise past some of the best sights Istanbul has to offer. Look out for the stunning Dolmabahçe Palace with its ostentatious façade as well as the 15th century Rumeli Hisarı Fortress and Beylerbeyi Palace where Ottoman sultans spent their summers.  Make yourself comfortable on deck and take in the beauty of the Bosphorus.

Melting Pot of Cultures

During the cruise you will get the chance to truly experience the meeting of East and West, focused in the great city of Istanbul, as well as learning more about the important historical effects of the meeting of diverse cultures and traditions. While differences have been rooted within Turkish history, and have at times resulted in tension, the mix of different cultures and faiths in Istanbul has indeed fuelled the creation of the amazing, and utterly unique city that you see today.

Travel Curious Tip: Visit the Grand Bazaar before your cruise slot, and pick up some authentic Turkish snacks.

We built this tour because 
it allows Travel Curious users to explore Istanbul in a unique way.
x

Guides

Join the fastest growing community of professional tour guides.

Partners

Use our easy to integrate toolset to include Tours & Attractions in your customer journey.