A Tale of Two Cities?
You can have very contrasting experiences in Istanbul. There is loads to do and discover and see here, I visit quite often and everytime I come back I can do different things, which is very lucky because I really don't think one can do justice to all the city sights in just a few days. There are plenty of museums, treasures, bazaars, hammam bathhouses, shopping malls, parks, monuments, mosques, churches etc. It has excellent public transportation and it's also very walkable. There are old, traditional pockets of Istanbul and there are the modern, sparkling new sections of city like anywhere else in Europe... so it can feel like you're in two completely different cities when you're in the old historical area of Sultanahmet or the upmarket, high-end areas like Nisantasi or Istinye. Wherever you are though, the main areas are vibrant & bustling, but just a few corners and streets away you can find peace & quiet. Two of my favourite things in Istanbul are the amount of cats roaming the city, and also the abundance of tulips (on tiles, cushions, and real ones) at springtime (especially in May!)... in fact, Istanbul was the original city of tulips before the Dutch brought some bulbs back to the Netherlands and became even more famous for tulips than Istanbul.
Ayasofya is one of the wonderful architecture I've ever seen. During its history it was both Orthodox Church and Mosque. Originally name was Church of the Holy Wisdom of God. Now it is known as Ayasofya in Turkish and St Sophia in English. Although sofia word means Wisdom in Greek.
VISITING THE MOSQUES
Most mosques in Istanbul are open to the public during the day. And the utmost respect should be observed when visiting the mosque or really any hose of prayer as a visitor. Prayer sessions, called namaz or salaat, last 30 to 40 minutes and are observed five times daily. Tourists should, however, avoid visiting mosques midday on Friday, when Muslims are required to worship.
For women, bare arms and legs are not acceptable inside a mosque. Men should avoid wearing shorts as well. Women should not enter a mosque without first covering their heads with a scarf. Before entering a mosque, shoes must be removed. And you should not walk in front of a person praying or distrub them. It is better to observe quietly from the back.
In contrast to its Asian sister suburb, the hip and young Kadikoy, Uskudar's main attractions are of religious in nature - more than a dozen camii (mosques) cramped around its narrow shores. Being the closest point to Mecca (Islam's holy city), the Ottoman rulers decided this was the best place to showcase their religious devotion.
During my half-day visit to Uskudar, I was able to see two of Uskudar's many mosques. The Iskele Camii (also known is Mihrima Sultan Camii) occupies a prominent site directly across the ferry terminal. Its colorful stained glass windows are beautiful. Aga Camii is your typical Turkish mosque, but with a more serene setting on a leafy street corner.
Getting to Uskudar from the European side is easy. There are regular ferries from Eminonu and Kabatas (near Dolmabahce Palace). Keep your akbil handy.
If you decide to take a boat, your final stop will be at ANADOLU KAVAGI, the place where Bosphorus flows into Black Sea. It's a small fishing village which is packed with different seafood and fish small restaurants.
You'll be given about 2 hrs break before you sail back. My advice don't waste it all on meals. Climb thru villages, up a steep hill to an acient fortress, the view of it and behind it is worth your time and efforts.