Explore the grandeur of Ottoman architecture at the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii), located on Istanbul’s Old City peninsula. Opened in 1616 to rival the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) across the way, the six minarets punctuating the Istanbul skyline and 20,000 blue Iznik tiles decorating its interior are designed to inspire awe.
The Blue Mosque is one of Istanbul’s top attractions and offers the opportunity to visit an active place of worship in the historical Sultanahmet neighborhood. Stroll through the airy courtyard and pause to soak up the atmosphere inside the mosque’s vast and curvaceous interior under cascading domes.
Most small-group and private tours combine a visit to the Blue Mosque with a broader exploration of the Sultanahmet neighborhood, including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, and Grand Bazaar.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Blue Mosque is a must-visit for history and architecture enthusiasts.
- Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, as you will remove them when you enter the mosque.
- Headscarves for women are provided at the entrance to the mosque.
- Make sure to cover your knees and shoulders before entering.
- The mosque is closed to visitors during prayer times.
- In an effort to keep the carpet clean, wheelchair users must use one of the wheelchairs provided by the mosque.
How to Get There
The Blue Mosque is located in the heart of the Sultanahmet district, across from the Hagia Sophia Museum. It’s a short walk from the Sultanahmet tram stop and a slightly longer walk from the Eminonu ferry terminal. Taxis are another option; there is limited parking in Sultanahmet so it is not recommended to drive.
When to Get There
Get to the Blue Mosque early, before the crowds arrive. The mosque is closed to non-Muslims during prayer times, which are listed in front of the mosque and also online. Prayer times are longer on Fridays. Muslim and Turkish holidays can also affect opening hours, so check before visiting.
What to Wear to a Mosque in Istanbul
Though scarves and cover-ups are provided, it helps to dress appropriately when you visit a mosque in Istanbul. Women should cover their heads, shoulders, and knees, while men should wear long pants instead of shorts. Bring a spare scarf and wear a short-sleeve shirt with a long skirt or pants for maximum convenience and comfort. And be prepared to remove your shoes.