The Ortakoy area is just past the last tram stop after it crosses the Galata Bridge. You can walk the distance and view the Dolmabahce Palace on the way. It is a small area abutting the Bosphorus where the small winding streets have been turned into a park and dining area with many restaurants, all just below the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge (more about the bridge at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatih_Sultan_Mehmet_Bridge) which spans the Bosphorus betwen the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. Just below the bridge is also the Ortakoy Cami (Mosque) on the waterside. Just sitting at one of the waterside restaurants enjoying a drink with our Gulench and her family who were there to meet up with us and show us their town.
Before entering the mosques
The majority of Turks are Muslim (about 99% of the population) of the Sunni creed. Hence, ISLAM is the principle religion in Turkey. Islam means devotion to God (Allah) & the basic belief is Allah created the world & everything shares the same roots as Christianity & Judaism except the belief about Jesus' divinity & status as a savior. Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus & Mohammed are all prophets while Mohammed is the greatest. It is believed that Mohammed is God's messenger & it was to him that God communicated his last revelation; being the last prophet. Muslims worship only God, no other. In Arabic, MUSLIM means one who has submitted to God's will.
Islamic teaching is recorded in the KORAN (which has sura -114 chapters) - Kur'an-i Kerim (Holy Koran) contains God's revelations to Mohammed. Koran (being sacred) cannot be translated & exits in Arabic only.
Sunna is the "rules of life" which governs the private & public behavior. (Sunna is a combination of the utterances of the prophets + The Koran)
In order to be a Muslim, one needs only submit his/her heart to God's will & perform a few religious duties - Specifically 5 Pillars of Islam:
1) Profession of faith - understand & believe "There is no god but God & Muhammed is his Prophet".
2) Daily Prayer - 5 times (dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, dusk & after dark).
3) Duty to give alms to the poor.
4) Fasting during Ramadan month
5) Pilgrimage to Mecca - once in his/her lifetime.
Muslim prayers are set rituals. Before praying, he/she must wash hands, arms, feet, ankles, head & neck in running water. As pictured, outside the mosques, one can usually find places for the Muslims to clean themselves with running water. If no water is available, one can clean with sand instead. If no sand, motions will suffice. After this ritual, he/she must cover his/head, face Mecca & perform a series of gestures & genuflections.
You can enjoy the Marmara sea or the bosphorus by sailing.
It is not an expensive trip and it is very relaxing and you can see a lot of beautiful buildings and mountains.
You can sail to the prince's islands or to the mouth of the black sea.
I think the most interesting parts of Istanbul is not Istanbul as what you see, but the Istanbul you cannot. The underground Istanbul...
The cistern system...This cistern is thought to have been built after the Nika revolt in 532 AD. It was known as the Basilica Cistern during the Roman period, as there was a Stoa Basilica above the pre-existing one at the time. After the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks, it was forgotten of and nobody knew that it existed. Re-discovered in 1545, it was used to water the gardens of Topkapi Palace. Today it has a rather eery and mystical ambiance. Clever spotlighting makes the water shimmer with coloured dancing lights and the water ripples from an occasional fish swishing its tail in exuberance.
Stroll along the shops, smell the enticing aromas, taste an olive or a piece of fruit, drink a tea and buy something you like.
Don't forget to visit the labyrinth of (narrow) streets around the Spice Market. spices, herbs, teas, olives, fruit and so on and so on.......