Ahmed was fourteen years old when he became the sultan of Turkey. His father died at a very young age. Aware of his own mortality, he decided to build something to be remembered for.
He called his chief architect and asked him to design a mosque with gold minarets. Unfortunately, the architect took his instructions a bit wrong and designed a mosque with six minarets. The pronunciation for the word ‘gold’ and ‘six’ are almost similar in the Turkish language.
He could have his head chopped off for that mistake but lucky for him that the Sultan liked the idea of a mosque with six minarets.
Usually, a mosque has two or four minarets; a mosque with six minarets was unheard of. Also, it was less expensive to build than gold minerals.
So the project went ahead.
The Mosque was built in a record time (in less than seven years), and the emperor died a year after aged twenty-six.
It turned out to be a good idea after all, because the mosque young Sultan Ahmed build is now the most famous mosque in the world.
It is known as The Blue Mosque. But only by the outsiders.
Turkish people know it as the Sultanahmet Mosque.
Istanbul has 3200 mosques.
Contrary to popular belief, The Blue Mosque is neither the oldest nor the biggest mosque in Turkey but is undoubtedly the most famous and the most beautiful one.
It got the name The Blue Mosque because of its blue interior.
What I found even more impressive than the mosque were the columns just outside the mosque:
- Constantine’s Column
- The Serpent Column
- Egyptian Column
Erected by Emperor Constantine in 330 C.E., this column was constructed from 8 separate columns. Each column weighed three tons and measured three meters in diameter, which were placed one on top of another.
It used to have the Emperor Constantine statue at the top, but it was struck by lightning in 1081 C.E. It used to be all covered in bronze.
The Serpent Column
The Serpent Columns was brought from Delphi. It has three snakes coiled around each other. The heads of the snakes are broken; one of them is in the British Museum.
This 3500 old obelisk was originally set up by Tuthmosis III of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt in 1450 BC, along with a similar one in front of the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak.
Inscribed on the obelisk is hieroglyph script, still clearly distinguishable. The script reads that it was his father’s honor that Tutmoses erected an obelisk at Karnak and a monument in Mesopotamia. Depiction of the Pharaoh and Amun-Re are also featured on it.
Several obelisks were transported from Egypt to Rome. Constantine displaced it from Rome to decore his new capital. But for some reason, the delivery took a long time. The obelisk didn’t get re-erected till the reign of Theodosius I.
Next post – how to see Istanbul in one day.