Travel with me #119 : The Sultan Ahmed and Cistern Basilica, Istanbul!

in #travel2 years ago (edited)

Dear Steemit Friends:

On my adventures with you today we're going to explore Sultan Ahmed Mosque, located in Istanbul, Turkey. You will see that this mosque is not only impressive for its sheer size but also its beauty. It still functions as a busy centre for religion with thousands visiting daily for their prayers.

First build between 1609 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmed the 1st, Sultan of the Ottoman empire from 1603 - 1617. Ahmed I first came to the thrown of the Ottoman empire when he was just thirteen years old and was born to Sultan Mehmed the 3rd. At the time, it was common for the eldest son to take the thrown after his father and then kill all of his brothers so he no longer had competition. Ahmed I was the first Sultan to break this 'tradition' by leaving his brother alive.

He reigned for just 14 years but the Sultan Ahmed Mosque still stands today as his lasting legacy to the world and the Islamic faith. Otherwise known as The Blue Mosque, it is one of the largest in the world. The nickname of 'Blue Mosque' comes from the hand painted blue tiles that line the inside of the walls, which you will soon see with me, as well as now being lit with blue lights at night.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is an extremely popular tourist destination, as you can see here. Millions flock to the impressive structure each year, to experience the grandeur and architecture and of course also for religious reasons.

I couldn't wait to start exploring. The mosque is absolutely huge - it has a capacity of 10,000 people and its largest dome stands 43m high into the sky with the tallest minarets (towers) being 64m high. The Blue Mosque has five main domes with six towers called minarets. There are also another eight smaller domes on the structure. There is an interesting history to the minarets. According to a little bit of legend, the original architect thought that the sultan had asked for six (altı) minarets when he actually said gold (altın) minarets. An easy mistake to make when you look at the words from the original language.

This presented a major problem because the only other mosque in the world that has six minarets is the Prophet's mosque in Mecca. Ahmed I felt that this was a serious insult so remedied the situation by building a 7th minaret in the Prophet's mosque.

The grounds around the mosque are beautifully maintained, creating a wonderful contrast between the grandeur of the building and the greenery of nature, tamed and manicured by man. It's good that there was plenty of space around the building because there were thousands of people visiting and it meant it didn't feel too crowded. As I approached in awe, I felt ready to enter what I had been told was one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

Entrance to the forecourt of the Blue Mosque

At front of Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a large forecourt, which is actually about the same size as the mosque all over again. Surrounding the forecourt runs a covered arcade and in the centre lies a small fountain. You can see that even this outer wall of the forecourt is impressive, with its large minarets on each corner.

Architecturally, the entrance is very unique. You can see this amazing inverted stone work, made with geometric shapes. I was so in awe and I hadn't even entered yet! On the western entrance to the forecourt there was a chain hanging across the entrance. Historically, only the Sultan was allowed to ride on horse back into the court and the chain was hung in such a way that he would have to duck while riding on horse back. It was a sign of respect and humility that even though he could ride on horse back he would still bow when entering this holy place.

In the centre of the forecourt there stands a small fountain in a hexagon shape

The spectacular interior of Sultan Ahmed Mosque

If you thought the outside of the mosque was impressive, wait until you see the inside. There were so many aspects of the inside that caused my jaw to drop. First, I didn't expect nearly the entire interior to be the size as the exterior - I had thought there would be a few small rooms inside the impressive dome. But in fact, it was just one large vaulted space. I felt so small under the enormity of the cavernous space.

However, the real jaw dropper is the mosaic tiles all over the inside of the domes. Every column, every vault, every dome has thousands of tiny tiles all over them in intricate patterns. There are over 20,000 hand made tiles in the Iznik style, a famous style of ceramic design from the town of Iznik in my beloved Anatolia Region of Turkey.

In the higher levels of the central rooms are found over 200 stained glass windows which admit plenty of daylight, illuminated the beautiful, predominantly blue paint, of the tile work. I have to say, and I hope you can tell why from the pictures, I was completely in awe. Have you ever had one of those moments where your mind cannot seem to understand what your eyes are seeing? That's what it felt like for me. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Inside, there is of course a very important dress code to show good levels of respect. The head, arms and legs must be covered and the mosque supplies anyone who doesn't have the right clothing with something they can put on during their visit. As with all active mosques, prayers take place five times per day and as a result the place is closed for thirty minutes during each of these times. The rest of the time, however, it's still important to show respect for the religious significance of the building.

This has to be the largest chandelier that I have ever seen!

The plush carpet keeps the ground soft for those praying within the mosque and was as elaborate and beautiful in its design as the walls and ceiling. It also softens a lot of the sounds and echos that you sometimes get in buildings of this magnitude, giving it an air of solemnity and importance. It just felt quiet and imposing, is a building of this significance should feel.

A closer look at the blue tiles and windows

A miniature of the building and forecourt made from precious metals

Always making friends, on the way out the mother of these three children asked if they could have a photo with me!

The water storage cisterns below Istanbul

Just a few hundred meters away from the Blue Mosque, underneath the stones of the city streets, you find the Basilica Cistern. Below the city of Istanbul there are hundreds of ancient cisterns for storing rain water. These structures were built in the 6th century by the Later Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire for storing water in the notoriously hot summers in Turkey.

Located under the previous site of a giant Basilica, that's how this particular cistern got its name. Unfortunately the basilica which once stood above the Basilica Cistern has long since gone. However, the marvel that stands below it, is as impressive as many buildings above ground. Apparently over 7,000 slaves were used to construct this one cistern alone, which is one of the largest in Istanbul and particularly well preserved and maintained.

The cisterns were built to provide drinking water for the grand palace of Istanbul, or Constantinople as the city was known at the time that the cisterns were built. I was astounded by the feat of engineering that it must have taken to create this incredible structure. 138 meters long and 65 meters wide, the space could probably have fit the entire Sultan Ahmed Mosque inside it. The statistics I saw within the Basilica Cistern suggested that it could hold 80,000 cubic meters of water - that's a lot!

Holding up the impressive, beautiful and practical ceiling were hundreds upon hundreds of columns. There were over three hundred, with there being twelve rows of twenty eight columns in each row. It was like walking through a forest of human ingenuity and endeavour. I just couldn't believe the extent of the work that must have gone into this most practical of systems. Each outer wall is over four meters thick and then coated with a waterproof mortar to keep the water in.

Just look how far the columns extend off into the distance!

Walking down the fifty two steps into the cool of the cistern was quite creepy. The water would have been topped up via an aqueduct, an ancient way of transporting water. Nowadays, there is still some water in here but it's mostly naturally occurring from rain water and isn't allowed to fill up to the top like in the past - because there's tourists like me visiting! Since it can store 100,000 tons of water, I was glad it was quite empty or I would have been very wet.

The platforms built here were put in during a restoration project in 1985 when 50,000 tonnes of mud was removed, though before these walk ways you could visit via boat. Though less people could visit this way, it would have been quite the experience to take a boat around the underground cistern - an opportunity I am sad to have missed. Non-the-less the cistern has been officially opened to the public for over 30 years now and I'm so glad because it's a real marvel of the human spirit.

This column is adorned with a pattern of a Hen's Eye with tears. This supposedly commemorates the hundreds of slaves that died in the creation of this wonder.

Another angle on this ornately carved column. Hard to believe it survived so well even while under water for hundreds of years

There are two columns in the Basilica Cistern that have been built by re-using existing carved blocks of stone, which have the face of the ancient Greek myth Medusa. Medusa was a woman in Greek mythology whose hair was made of serpents and if you met her stare you would be turned to stone. No one really knows where these block carvings came from but they sure are impressive. Imagine moving such large pieces of stone to this location, underground, with those dangerous eyes looking at you the whole time.

I hope you enjoyed exploring Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Basilica Cistern with me today. The mosque was truly spectacular. I'm still trying to get my head around the beauty, majesty, complexity and sheer size of the interior with its tiled walls and huge chandelier. The cistern had a kind of rugged power from its pure size - deep underground with the low light, the smell of water and the echos of my voice for company. To think of how many thousands took to build it, so many hundreds of years ago, was truly mind blowing.

Have any of you visited this amazing city and these amazing sights? If you have, let me know and I'd love to compare notes! I can't wait to see you all again in my next blog post, so make sure you don't miss it and follow me if you haven't. Have a wonderful day and I'm looking forwards to sharing in another adventure with you soon.

Here are some clips I took with my drone of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in the Sultanahmet !!

Check out the full video below!


















Greetings, beautiful and dear sweetiesssj

Excellent trip of yours. I do not know anything about Turkey, besides some movies that were filmed there, but movies with the American vision.

When I see your posts, it's cool, because there's another culture involved. Besides, you looked beautiful with the steemit shirt. I think of ordering for me too, mug and shirt with steemit logo and Dtube.

Many thanks for the post and good Sunday!

ps: I want to know your name !!!

hi julisavio, I am a little surprised you haven't been enticed by my other posts of Turkey to visit yet. If you look hard enough you should be able to find it :)

lol you are walking with a T-shirt says steem hehe

Nice you went to Turkey? It's a place I really want to visit one day.

I've been quite a few times over the years, it's one of my favourite places! :)

Hi! i am new in this social network.That city is amazing and the food incredible.I let you 1 picture of my experience thereTurquia 1.jpg

beautiful and marvelous place i love to travel there hopefully soon.

These will be great memories one day

Another beautiful place! Love the drone shots!

thanks mark! I was hoping someone would see the drone footage!

Amazing trip..

Wooow amazing that's a beautiful place I love it.

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Amazing indeed! I have a second part coming soon. It'll explore the other major mosque and palaces nearby. Stay tuned!

nice. i votes you

wow such a beautiful place to travel i like this photo much feel like i been there too.!

wow, so cute and very awesome pictures, together with the children.
the place has the historical value and the people are great.
thanks for sharing every detail of information about the place are very informative.

upvoted and resteem


Wow were you actually wearing a Steem shirt around? Nice.

I always have a set of Steemit clothes with me wherever I go! :)

you ^look so cute on your t-shirt sweet ^_^

How i wish I can visit Istanbul Turkey, I loved your travels

en pocas palabras viaje a turquia viendo este blog.. me gusto mucho. buen trabajo

Leave enough time to explore the other sights :) Ayasofya, Topkapı Palace, Grand Bazaar etc.

And also if you need help, just mention me here, I'm very close to you !

Enjoy it :)

Oooh absolutely, those are coming :)

Thank you for sharing your travels @sweetsssj

bluehorseshoe, it's my pleasure, thanks for following along!

you're very welcome magnata, thanks for dropping by :)

That big curved roof looks like it has insane detail!
bet that took a long time to make.

Very cool frames from Istanbul. Thanks for sharing.

QUe fotos tan increibles!!! Son magicos esos lugares llenos de luz de colores. Sencillamente Magicos.

Thank you calvol, kind of understand!

Turkey is a beautiful country. Enjoy your trip....:)...

Thank you jang, it was very eventful :)

What an amazing place !
Looks an angel is roaming in heaven !!
Enjoyed your travel post a a lot .

Thanks akkha, more to come ! :)

You are welcome my friend ! Always waiting your post !

What an beatifull pictures and video's did you take!!
I Really Enjoyed the blog. I want to re-visit istanbul again because of it.
Thank you for doing this

Incredible shots and it must have been an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing.

I wish I went there with you i pray God bless me with cash to be able to travel paces like this can’t wait to make this cash

Appearance in hijab is impressive

Haha, I wasn't sure if people would like it..

I know, it's needed when entering the mosque. I say honestly, you still look beautiful 😉.


From where you have Purchased this Steemit Clothes, and From Where I can Purchase it.

Anyway Nice Clicks.

I got them printed myself! (Also did the design :))

Constantinoupoli is a beautiful place ! I just started a project on Greek islands go check it out

Certainly is, and there are many traces of Greek history throughout Turkey too.

Obviously that scenery is so stunning! With your photography I also feel the beauty around that location! Excellent trip of yours. Love that place so beautiful.

Thanks kryptolocco! Have you ever been to Turkey?

very beautiful this place, thank you @sweetsssj for sharing with us to show this beautiful place.

hey putraabdal, there are very few places in the world with this kind of beauty, i'm glad you appreciate it :)

I love travel photography I really think you have the eye for really good shots ... congrats to some awesome photos hope to see more thank you very much

Amazing pictures from an amazing girl 😀!!! I bet you had many fun in turkey 🇹🇷 and made awesome experiences ... this Country is not so far away, I should really consider to visit :-)

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thanks avizor! You definitely need to visit, and visit more than once!

Beautiful photography you must be had a great trip.

thank you chetanpadliya, it was a really great trip and still have a lot of photos to share!

i wish one day you visit pakistan as well !

I'm sure I will get round to there eventually my friend!

Welcome to Turkey

thank you !

Hi @sweetsssj I'm a bot, and wanted you to know that I've upvoted and re-steemed your post to help you with your promotion efforts! -exp

thanks experiment! :)

why u looking so cute?

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So sweet of you! ^_^

all the sweetness comes from u actually.

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good morning,
beautiful locations I love just like you are beautiful greetings from venezuela


Very beautiful trip to Istanbul, your article is truly amazing, photos and videos are very captivating.


Thanks @sweetsssj for sharing.

my pleasure longberry, quite shy about this photo!

you look very cool and more beautiful when wearing hijab like that,
it looks very beautiful and modern

Nice to see you in Istanbul, so many beautiful place out there can’t wait to go back! What’s next??

Hey adriansky! Got a few places around Europe to go! :)

Nice to see you in Istanbul, so many beautiful place out there can’t wait to go back! What’s next??

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Cool trip!

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Very much so! Thanks!

Those girls are cute haha they must have been excited.

You are very beautiful, like a princess in a Chinese movie legend. I admire you, as Steem Blockchain's most successful female steemian. Nice to meet you @sweetsssj

My pleasure to meet you too, thank you so much!

I really enjoyed this post everything was put together well such a excellent post well done my friend keep up the good work 👏😎

thanks kgakakillerg! (nice picture of a car!)

Not a problem my friend thank you 👍




@sweetsssj What an awesome post! I always enjoy the history and detail you put into your posts. I love being able to tour with you and see different places around the world. It's very inspiring!

oregontravel! Thank you!! I really enjoy what I do, but I'm really thankful you guys enjoy it so much because it keeps me going!

nice place! thanks for sharing this trip @sweetsssj

find it a boring place to go, sorry.

When I was a kid I used to see photos of this mosque, and I would cut the photo out and use it in an art collage. I thought it was the most amazing architecture of any building in the world. It still looks very magnificent after hundreds of years.

I used to do the same thing but with old temples and palaces in China. Actually there are quite a few mosques like this in China too in the Xinjiang region. It is a shame that there is a lot of political clout in that area, it is an otherwise very culturally rich region of China with roots differing from the majority ethnicity of the Hans.

It’s so awesome place, and you are so cute...
Thanks for posting it.

hey jeremy, thank you and my pleasure!

Always so Beautiful, The Work you put into your BLOG is Amazing.........@sweetsssj

thanks stokjockey, did you enjoy the drone footage?

太美了..... 伊斯坦堡!這輩子一定得去一趟~~ ^^ (我看了你的眼睛,沒事..... lol )


會,應該還是會有事發生...... ^_^

bring me to istanbul please! amazing place.

Definitely need to visit and check it out arthur!

Hey! This a very nice and informative piece!! :)

heyyy hoomanboeing (interesting name) !

stunning view! oh men. makes me wanna live there :p

Me too actually, but it would probably be a different experience, possibly not as exciting in the long term!

You are more beautiful than you think, love you 😊😊

ziapase, so sweet of you!!

Yuuuuvery nice and amazing blog 🙏 good job!!!!

hey n00ne, thank you so much dear!

Hey guys scrolling through the comments...i have a unique photo would be very helpful if you could check it out

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Post it and let's have a look!

Great story! Definitely Istambul has a lot of hidden gems besides the most popular mosques

Oh, for sure! I think i have a few of those posts to come as well. Stay tuned!

Que linda :*

wait I want that shirt too

Appreciate your full report sweetsssj. Have also wanted to see Istanbul from my childhood and do, actually , now have a childhood friend from South Africa living there for many years since he completed college in Illinois and I have been intending to pay him a visit as well. Love your pics.

Hey There Sweet SSSSSSSSJ! Glad to you still traveling and doing your thing. I'm still steemin' along. In fact I too was in Turkey just last month. I went from Kiev Ukraine to Ankara, then to the small town of Beypazari and hung out for while. Turkish culture ain't too bad. I enjoyed myself, looks like you did too. Don't know if you are going to steemfest, but if you are...I'll see you there ;)

Have a great day! -Dan

very beautiful, very good pictures

@sweetsssj, 哇!这一次你飞的好遥远阿!但是我很喜欢你的旅游贴!伊斯坦布尔是人生必去的一次。你去的时候天气如何?

谢谢你哟,去的时候是夏天,正值高温天气,真的很晒呀,将近40度了= =

阿?40度就差不多和迪拜一样了。那么UV 肯定也是很高了。回国后记得涂芦荟膏,只害怕晒伤而已。



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Awesome story pic 🇳🇱

I just have to say that the location is a beauty and the picture is spectacular!

The weather is very nice!!!

Really Superbbbbbbb...................

Amazing! Did you enjoyed the culture in that place? It seems wonderful

haha dear sweetsssj,
You were in my country. And you wrote a very nice travel letter. First of all, congratulations. I'm sure Istanbul is lucky to see a beauty like you :)

nice photos thanks for sharing

Hey, I live in Istanbul. But I couldn't tell you as well as you. It's a nice post. :)

Amazing location!

Your writing is good. Come on!

Turkey and especially Istanbul are really great. I traveled to this country last week. Link some of the pictures I've taken.

thanks for this, i'll take a look!

Hi @sweetsssj, First of all, This is another great post with detailed description, high quality beautiful photos and excellent video.

Monuments tell us a lot about our past and it always feels great to explore these historic buildings by paying a visit or through bloggers or vloggers like you. The world is full of beautiful mosques and one of the most beautiful mosques are found in my country. Here is one of them named Faisal Mosque located in the capital city Islamabad:

This one is historic Badshahi Mosque located in Lahore:

I think if you ever visit these places, you would love spending time there as it feels like going back in the past and living some memorable moments there. I often visit these places with my friends and it's always fun.

Steem On!

Thank you ugetfunded! That is really fantastic, you've made your country very appealing to me and I will definitely have to come visit soon!

You're most welcome @sweetsssj.

Missed this one, yet another excellent post.
Happy Travels, and continue the great posts.

thanks michael! Will do!

Very nice article, nice photos, visit us and us in Sofia :)

Turkey is indeed a wonderful country. But... ISTANBUL... is a Dream ! I had the occasion to live there and after a few months, I thought that I would never want to leave that place. From my perspective, it is the only city in the world that can PERFECTLY MIX the Orient with the Occident.
The pictures that you have taken are gorgeous. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing with us !

I would have to agree with you wholeheartedly, it's one of the reasons I keep going back. I don't feel alienated there but at the same time, there's still so much interesting culture that I'm unfamiliar with, all worth experiencing.

甜姐,你开始变成明星了,那母子以为你是韩国天团的某某女歌手 :D

PS: 话说,你的那件Sweetsssj Steem 的Tshirt很显眼,真的是免费给Steem在世界各地打广告,好样的!




Those clips from the drone... Wow! You are taking travelling into a different level. Very impressive! I have always been wondering if it is legal to do so.

Actually I had to do that in secret and fly back very quickly.. there were police looking for the pilot!

When you are in Istanbul and you visit the Hagia Sofia, which is basically right next to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, ask if you can enter the balcony inside the Hagia Sofia.
There is a carving of a Viking warrior, who fought for the Byzantinian Empire.
It basically says "I was here" and is one of the oldest proofs of mild vandalism.
A grafitti that is almoust 1.000 years old!
Hope you have a good time in Istanbul!

THanks for the tip my dear, i've gone ahead and done that, stay tuned for the post!

Wonderful! I'll definitely do that!

Hi dear, a warm hug from Venezuela, you know sometimes I get discouraged, but when I see your publication I take strength and I publish again, blessings ..

hi antonela, thanks for dropping by! I know sometimes it can get a little discouraging but the best thing to do is just take your time and enjoy it. Make something you will be proud of and happily flick back to months or years from now!

Thank you honey for your suggestion

dreaming that someday,will visit this beautiful and splendid place.

It will be worth your time and money for sure!

Really, what is your beauty secret? (^_^) You are such a simple and beautiful lady... What if the color of your skin is brown? What it will look like? LOL

That looks heavenly! The beautiful flowering trees, the intricate brickwork and landscaping fencing...

And all of the obvious stuff, too. :)

hey! this was one of the first articles I’ve read on steemit and I especially enjoyed reading this one! thanks for taking me on this journey with you! i loved it! i’m from Cape Town South Africa and I will be sharing south african heritage aswel. please feel free to follow back!

what a beauty of Istanbul go photography. keep it up

What a colourful and beautiful image

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Thanks desi! :)