once known as Scutari, is a large
district on the Asian
shore of the
Bosphorus in metropolitan Istanbul.
For visitors to Istanbul, Üsküdar is
important for its mosques and its transport
The ferry docks are
prominent all along the shore of the Üsküdar plaza:
the Şehir Hatları ferries, the TurYol ferries and the Dentur Avrasya ferries going to Eminönü, Karaköy,
Just inland from the ferry docks are
numerous bus and minibus stops and
taxi stands good for trips
north and south along the Bosphorus shore, and eastward into Istanbul's
The Marmaray has a station near the ferry docks in Üsküdar (map). Although the Marmaray train under the Bosphorus is the fastest way to travel between Europe and Asia, I still prefer the ferries.
About 2.5 km (1.5 miles) south along the shore
from the Üsküdar ferry dock is the Harem Otogar, with intercity
buses to all of Anatolian
beyond. About 2.5 km (1.5 miles) farther south is Kadıköy, with its
Metro and city bus terminals, and its docks for ferries to Eminönü and Karaköy.
What to See & Do
Üsküdar's mosques include the Mihrimah
Sultan Camii (1547), a
work designed the great Mimar
Sinan for Mihrimah Sultan,
the favorite daughter of Sultan
the Magnificent. (Mihrimah
Sultan's other mosque, near the
city walls, is even more spectacular.
the Bosphorus Bridge joining European and Asian
Her mosque, nicely restored, is on the north side
of the plaza just opposite the ferry
North of the mosque itself
is its Dar-üş
or Health Center. You enter this
building by a doorway that could
have come from Seljuk
Turkish times, but when
you get inside you find a shiny,
ultra-modern up-to-the-minute medical
clinic—a wonderful continuation
of usage of an ancient building with
On the southern side of the plaza
is the Yeni Valide Camii (or
Camii, "Mosque of
the New Queen Mother," 1710) a later
Ottoman mosque that's part of a full
mosque complex (külliye) including
several other charitable service buildings.
In late 2014, the Yeni Valide is closed for renovations.
The Queen Mother of the mosque's name,
by the way, was Gülnüş Emetullah
Hatun, mother of Sultan Ahmet III (builder
of the Sultanahmet [Blue] Mosque).
Inland up a hill is the charming small Tiled
Cami), well worth a visit to see
its exquisite İznik colored tiles,
especially if you have not visited
the even more exquisite Rüstem
Pasha Mosque near the Egyptian
(Spice) Bazaar in Eminönü.
Unfortunately it, too, is completely closed for renovations in late 2014, and work may take a few years.
Now the second-largest city in Europe (after Moscow), Istanbul has lost a lot of its antique charm to urbanization. To get a glimpse of what Istanbul used to be, take a bus or taxi north along the shore from Üsküdar to Kuzguncuk and stroll inland along İcadiye Caddesi, the main street shaded by huge sycamore trees.
On your left, a synagogue. Farther along, on your right, a Greek Orthodox church. Here and there, Turkish coffee- and tea-houses and little eateries. The pace is slow, the ambience relaxed.
—by Tom Brosnahan