Foundations Director General Adnan Erdem said the Sultanahmet Mosque, which is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for its blue tiles adorning its interior walls, was examined thoroughly and one minaret was taken under restoration due to its shift, making it a potential liability.
“The minaret has been determined to be of danger to life security in its current situation. It has been observed that stones have fallen from the minaret on occasions and immediate action has been taken,” said Erdem.
Erdem said a static report on the reinforcement of the minaret was expected and the reinforcement would be finished accordingly in one year.
The Blue Mosque was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I by architect Sedefkar Mehmed Agha and is the only mosque in Turkey to have six minarets.
Stating that an x-ray of the mosque’s floor was taken, Erdem said there was no serious problem in the flooring, though several centuries have passed since its construction.
In November 2013, one minaret of the Sultanahmet Mosque was discovered to have shifted five centimeters during preparations for a comprehensive restoration and İbrahim Özekinci, the Foundations Regional Director, had said the minaret would be dismantled and rebuilt.
Being one of the most important mosques in Istanbul, it gained popularity after a visit by former Pope Benedict XVI on Nov. 30, 2006 during his visit to Turkey but the popularity has declined with time. Pope Francis’ visit to the mosque during his visit to Turkey in November 2014 is expected to once again increase its popularity.
In the list of the most visited holy sites in the world, Sultanahmet Mosque ranks 20th, while the Hagia Sophia ranks 29th.