Sultanahmet camiinin tasarımı Osmanlı cami mimarisi ile Bizans kilise mimarisinin 200 yıllık sentezinin zirvesini oluşturur. Komşusu olan Ayasofya’dan bazı Bizans esintileri içermesinin yanı sıra geleneksel İslami mimari de ağır basar ve klasik dönemin son büyük camisi olarak görülür. Caminin mimarı, büyük usta Mimar Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa’nın “boyutta büyüklük, heybet ve ihtişam” fikirlerini yansıtmada başarılı olmuştur.
After the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the crushing loss in the 1603–1618 war with Persia, Sultan Ahmet I, decided to build a large mosque in Istanbul to reassert Ottoman power. It would be the first imperial mosque for more than forty years. While his predecessors had paid for their mosques with the spoils of war, Ahmet I procured funds from the Treasury, because he had not gained remarkable victories.
It caused the anger of the ulema, the Muslim jurists. The mosque was built on the site of the palace of the Byzantine emperors, in front of the basilica Hagia Sophia (at that time, the primary imperial mosque in Istanbul) and the hippodrome, a site of significant symbolic meaning as it dominated the city skyline from the south. Big parts of the south shore of the mosque rest on the foundations, the vaults of the old Grand Palace.