Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque)
The Blue Mosque was built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I (1603-1617), as Islam's answer to Haghia Sophia, and remains the symbol and centre of religious demonstrations and Istanbul's only mosque with six minarets. Blue Iznik tiles dominate the interior, and blue light shines through more than 250 windows. The interior is stunning, from the vast central dome designed to lift all eyes heavenward to the latticework-covered Imperial Loge and the mihrab (prayer niche) containing a piece of sacred black stone from Mecca. After dusk during summer there is a Son et Lumière (sounds and lights) show with Turkish, English, French and German on different nights. The Imperial Pavilion also contains the state-run Vakiflar Carpet Museum with Usak, Bergama and Konya samples, dating between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Hagia Sophia is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral ever built in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between A.D. 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site (the previous two had both been destroyed by riots). It was designed by two architects, Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. The Church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 50 foot (15 m) silver iconostasis. It was the patriarchal church of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly 1000 years.