The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul has six minarets that look like freshly sharpened pencils

Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul
Sultan Ahmed Mosque
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A huge mosque loomed in front of me. It was the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. It took me a while to realize that the huge structure in front of me was the famous Blue Mosque, even though I was standing very close to it, because I thought the exterior of the Blue Mosque was blue. The exterior is not blue at all. The reason it is called the Blue Mosque is because the interior is decorated with Iznik blue decorative tiles, and you can't experience the blue color until you step inside.

This huge structure was built by the 14th Sultan Ahmed I of the Ottoman Empire over a period of seven years and is registered as a World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Areas of Istanbul. It is one of the main attractions of Istanbul. Looking at it from nearby at dusk, I saw the minaret poking up toward the sky, making the huge mosque look like a miniature.

The minarets are used to announce the beginning of prayers in the mosque to the neighborhood. Nowadays, the compellation is usually broadcast from a speaker attached to the top of the minaret, but in the past, people used to call out from the top of the minaret. I wonder why they didn't come up with the idea of ringing bells like Christian churches or temples in Japan to convey information. It's a bit strange.

In my travels in Turkey, I have noticed that small mosques have a single minaret, and the number of minarets increases as the mosque becomes larger. It seems that in this country, the number of minarets represents the prestige of the mosque (is there such a thing as prestige in a mosque?). Incidentally, this Blue Mosque has six minarets, the most in Turkey. Six minarets is the same number as the Kaaba Temple in Mecca, the holy city of Islam.

However, it seems that Turkey is the only country in the world where the number of minarets indicates rank. Other Muslim countries do not seem to have such a concept. The Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia is the third-largest mosque in the world, but it has only one minaret. When I asked the mosque staff, they replied, "We Muslims are one community, so one minaret is enough". It seems that there are multiple ways of thinking in the Islamic world.

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Shooting Date

Jan 2001

Posted On

November 9, 2005

Modified On

October 5, 2023


Istanbul, Turkey


Architectural Photography



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