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Üsküdar Review

One of the oldest inhabited areas on the Asian shore, Üsküdar takes its name from the 7th-century BC settlement of Scutari, though nothing now remains of that ancient town. Today, Üsküdar is a conservative residential district with a handful of noteworthy Ottoman mosques. The waterfront looks set to change dramatically with the opening of the long-awaited Marmaray, a rail tunnel under the Bosphorus that is to transport passengers from Üsküdar to Sirkeci in just four minutes. The ferry landing is dominated by Sinan's pretty, if somewhat dark, Mihrimah Sultan Camii, also known as the İskele Camii (built 1548). The large Yeni Valide Camii from 1710 and another Sinan mosque, the small, beautifully situated Şemsi Paşa Camii, are a short walk southwest along the waterfront.

The most architecturally significant mosque in the district, Sinan's Atık Valide Camii from 1583, is a 20-minute gradually uphill walk from the waterfront on Hakimiyeti Milliye Caddesi and then on Dr. Fahri Atabey Caddesi. There's a pleasant tea garden in the mosque courtyard, and several other buildings in the complex are in the process of being restored. Another couple hundred yards to the left and then up Çavuşdere Caddesi is the 17th-century Çinili Cami, or "Tiled Mosque," which has splendid İznik tiles. Though the mosque itself is usually kept locked to protect the tiles, it's possible to access the porticos and peak in through the windows.

Updated: 11-19-2013

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