Sultanahmet is the central part of Istanbul’s Old City, and a favourite location with travellers in this spectacular city. Its focal point is Sultanahmet Mosque, one of Istanbul’s most important religious sites.
Sultanahmet Mosque was built during the Ottoman reign of Istanbul, in the 17th century under the order of Sultan Ahmed I, from whom it gets its name. This grand structure was designed by the architect Mehmet Aga and is recognisable from Istanbul’s other mosques because it has six minarets – the slim peaks that rise up from the roof – rather than the standard four. Inside, you’ll find beautiful blue tiles adorning its walls, a feature that has given rise to its nickname, ‘the Blue Mosque’.
Sultanahmet Mosque is still a working place of worship, but it’s open to visitors and is free to enter. The mosque is a great place to learn more about Istanbul’s history and its culture, and a welcoming place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
Exploring Sultanahmet Square
Sultanahmet Mosque is located in Sultanahmet Square, once called the Hippodrome of Constantinople. In Turkish, it is known as Sultanahmet Meydani, and its plethora of historic attractions makes it top on the list of places to see in Istanbul.
In addition to Sultanahmet Mosque, you’ll find the Haghia Sophia, a magnificent Byzantine structure that was once an Orthodox Church and is now a mosque. Topkapı Palace is also situated here, and this lavish building offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of Ottoman rulers. Other historic attractions in Sultanahmet Square include the Museum of Archaeology and the Basilica Cistern. And to escape the crowds, take a break in Gülhane Park, a former royal hunting ground.