The architect of Istanbul‘s Blue Mosque, Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa, paid tribute to his colleagues Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus, architects of neighboring Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia), who designed their masterwork a thousand years before Mehmet Aga was born.
As you proceed deep into Ayasofya, the domes seem to billow upward into space, creating their own “heavens.” In the Blue Mosque, Mehmet Aga has duplicated the effect on the exterior of the building: as you approach from the front and ascend the stairs toward the courtyard, the domes billow upward until, entering the courtyard, the full grandeur of the exterior is revealed.
Sultanahmet‘s two great timeless monuments, side by side….
The images below allow you to see some of the effect, but there’s nothing like being right there. When you go, be sure to enter the Blue Mosque’s enclosure from the west (Hippodrome) side. Walk slowly, looking ahead, and watch the drama of the domes–and the architect’s genius—being revealed for you.
If you decide not to visit the interior of the Blue Mosque because it’s often closed for prayers, or too long a wait to get in, or too crowded when you do, at least you can experience this magic effect on the exterior.
For a more dramatic description, see the excerpt from Bright Sun, Strong Tea, my Turkey travel memoir.