By Cigdem Alyanak
ISTANBUL (AA) - The first and only 6-minaret mosque of Ottoman architecture, Blue Mosque in Istanbul is undergoing the most comprehensive restoration in its 400-year history.
The Mosque, contributing to the silhouette of Istanbul, was built by architect Sedefkar Mehmet Aga following the order of Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I. and opened to worship in 1617.
It was built across Hagia Sophia museum which had been serving as a church at that time.
Local official of the Turkish Directorate of Foundations, Mursel Sari, told Anadolu Agency that the most comprehensive restoration of the Blue Mosque had started on July 6, 2017.
The restoration works of the mosque, known officially as Sultan Ahmet Mosque, was sponsored by a Turkish businessman.
Steel piers which are 43 meters high from the ground to the dome were installed for the restoration of the Mosque.
"There are certain difficulties in the restoration process," Sari said.
"Because it is a very important work, we should not disrupt worship, and it was necessary to do the restoration without hampering the influx of visitors," he said.
The Blue Mosque, which attracts tourists with the beauty of its tiles, has 21,043 tiles in more than 50 designs produced in Iznik and Kutahya workshops in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
"There are 50 different patterns in these tiles, because the dominating tone of the tiles and pencil works on the inner walls are blue, foreigners called this place 'Blue Mosque'," said Sari.
The hand-drawings on the inner wall of the main dome which are 43 meters high from the ground are scoured by expert restorers and original hand-drawings are cleaned and revised.
The 400-year-old gates of the mosque were preserved in a workshop established in the courtyard of the mosque.
All these trim works and pencil works on the Mosques inner walls and domes are going through more detailed and meticulous way,
Amid the restoration work worshipers continue to perform their daily prayers in the mosque as it hosts around 30,000 tourists everyday.
The official mentioned that the restoration work could take more times and money than that of projected before launching the works.
"In the beginning of the restoration we forecasted that it would be completed in four years, it is our target to complete it in four years but this process can be extended when we encounter unexpected situations," Sari said.
Sari stated that the cost of the construction at the start was 35,000,000 Turkish liras ($5,800,000 approx.) this figure is expected to be around 60,000,000 liras ($10,000,000 approx.) over the time.
*Writing and contribution by Dilara Hamit