The complex is located opposite Hagia Sophia Mosque in Sultanahmet square. It was built by architect Sedefkar Mehmed Aga for Sultan Ahmet I.
The construction of the complex began with a large ceremony in 1609. The ceremony was attended by the great religious leaders of the day, such as Seyhulislam Mehmed Efendi, and notable state figures like Aziz Mahmud Hudai, Sadrazam Davut Pacha and even sultan himself were present at the laying of the foundations. The construction of the magnificent complex lasted for a quite a time, with the mosque being completed in 1617 and rest of the structures in 1619.
One of the largest of Istanbul’s structures, the complex includes a mosque,medreses,the sultan’s chamber,shops of tradesmen, a hamam,a public fountain with a spout, a mousoleum, a hospital, a soup kitchen and a primary school. Some of these have survived toi the present.
The mosque is located in the center of the complex and referred to by foreigners as "The Blue Mosque" on account of the roughly 20,000 blue glazed tiles which cover its exterior. The mosquye consists of a wide courtyard and an interior of equal size. The courtyard is above ground level and accessible by steps. It is covered with a dome and contains a pol with a water jet. Another distinguishing feature of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is minarets. Four of six minarets form a part of the mosque and have three galleries, while the remaining two rise from the corners of the courtyard and have two galleries each.
The main dome of the mosque is 34 meters in diameter, rises to a height of 43 meters above ground level and rests upon four massive pillars five meters in diameter.
Four half-domes also support the main dome. The mosque is five stories high from ground level to top ot the dome and is illuminated by 260 stained glass windows. Other then the glazed tiles, the mosque is a showcase of the other important structural ornemantations of the period. The marble ’mimber’, or pulpit, features of mother of pearl relief; the prayer niche is made of decoratively carved marble, the wooden door, shutters and low reading table are inlaid with mother of pearl, striking chandeliers hang from the dome. These are just a few of the things worth seeing in the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Another of the structures of the complex is Hunkar chamber of the sovereign. It was designed as a place for the sultans to rest before or after performing his prayesrs and was the first structure of its type to be built in the environs of a mosque.
In the north wet corner of the complex is a mousoleum. Sultan Ahmed I, his wife Kosem Sultan, his sons Sultan Osman II and Sultan Murad IV, and some of his grandchildren are buried here. A medrese is located near the tomb and functions as an archive today.
A primary school is attached to the wall of the inner courtyard of the mosque. There is a fountain and shops on the ground floor of the school and classrooms on the top floor. The last structure on the kiblah side is an "arasta" - a row of shops of the same trade-. A section of the arasta was destroyed by fire in 1912, but the remaining parts contains the mosaic museum and souvenir shop.
The hospital and kitchen were built some distance from the mosque. In their original state they would have been separated from the square by shops in front. The buildings which are constructed after the 1894 earthquake and now house the dean of Marmara University, completely severed the ties between the hospital and soup kitchen and the other parts of the complex. The hospital and soup kitchen, which are found on Sokullu Mehmed PAcha Yokusu, are used today by the Sultan Ahmed Technical High School.