Until the conquest of Constantinople (1453), which meant not only the end of the Byzantine Empire, but also a turning point for both the Ottoman Empire and the history of Europe and the Middle East, the Ottoman Turks were just some warriors preoccupied rather by the subjection of the neighbors, than by culture and civilization. This doesn't mean, however, that they didn't respected the achievements of those with who they came into contact. For almost 400 years Byzantine architectural artifacts such as the church of Hagia Sophia served as models for many of the Ottoman mosques.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (known as the Blue Mosque), built between 1609 and 1616, incorporates also some elements of the Hagia Sophia, but, after two centuries of development of the Ottoman architecture, has its own personality, the architect synthesizing the ideas of his master Sinan. This masterpice was build during the reign of Ahmed I, an atypical sultan, slouch as strategist and statesman, who left the empire weaker than he has inherited it. Known for his skills in fencing, poetry, horseback riding, and fluency in numerous languages, he supported the works of scholars and calligraphers, but not also the miniature painting, because of his rigid religious beliefs.
It has one main dome, other eight secondary domes, and six minarets. Most mosques have maximum four minaret. The legend say that the Sultan ordered his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, but was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets. These caused a scandal, because the Al-Masjid al-Harām in Mecca also had six minarets, but in the end the sultan solved the problem by sending his architect to Mecca to add a seventh minaret. The facade was built in the same manner as the facade of the Süleymaniye Mosque, except for the addition of the turrets on the corner domes.
A heavy iron chain hangs in the upper part of the court entrance on the western side, so that even the sultan (the only one who could enter on horseback) had to bow his head when he entered. Inside, the high ceiling is lined with the 20,000 handmade blue tiles that give the mosque its popular name. Because the price of the tiles was fixed by the sultan's decree (while prices increased over time), the quality of the tiles used in the building decreased gradually.
Their colours have faded and changed (red turning into brown, and green into blue, mottled whites) and the glazes have dulled. The tiles on the back balcony wall were recycled from the harem in the Topkapı Palace, when it was damaged by fire in 1574. The most important element in the interior is the mihrab, which is made of finely carved and sculptured marble, with a stalactite niche and a double inscriptive panel above it. The mosque is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site named Historic Areas of Istanbul.
About the stamps
The first stamp is one of the four belonging to the series 650th Year of Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling, issued on July 8, 2011 (two with the value of 0.9 TRY, and two with the value 1.3 TRY). Kırkpınar is a Turkish oil-wrestling tournament, held annually, usually in late June, near Edirne, since 1346.
The second is part of the series International Year of Deserts and Desertification, issued on June 5, 2006, consisting of four stamps with the face values of 0.25, 0.5, 0.6 (it's on the postcard) and 0.7 TRY.
The last stamp is part of the Provision Of Equality Of Opportunities Between Men And Women, about which I wrote here. The inscription on the tab means "For a fairer world, stand by my side".
Sultan Ahmed Mosque - Wikipedia
Blue Mosque, Istanbul - Sacred Destinations
Sender: Mina (direct swap)
Sent from Ankara (Turkey), on 07.09.2012