One of the most picturesque spots in Istanbul is at the Ortaköy square, as you witness the Ortaköy Mosque juxtaposed with the Bosphorus Bridge behind it – showing traditional and modern, old and new together.
Officially named the Büyük Mecidiye Camii (Grand Imperial Mosque) for Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid. This elegant Neo-Baroque style mosque was designed by Nikoğos Balyan, one of the architects of Dolmabahçe Palace. Constructed from 1853-1855 at the former sight of an 18th century mosque built by Mahmut Ağa, the son-in law of Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha.
As you exit, head to the right for some kumpir, Turkey’s baked potato!
Keep in mind when visiting a (working) mosque to be respectful.
When to visit:
Unless you are coming to pray, avoid visiting a mosque during prayer time. Prayer occurs five times a day, and every day the time slightly changes as the days grow longer or shorter. Check ahead and be sure to avoid visiting within 30 minutes after the call to prayer and from noon to late afternoon on Friday.
What to wear:
For both men and women the following is preferred. Tops should have sleeves at least elbow-length or longer and shoulders must be covered. Pants, skirts or dresses should end at least below the knees. Women will need to wear a headscarf to cover their hair. If you don’t have a scarf on hand, a scarf will be provided to you upon entering. Before you enter the mosque you will need to remove your shoes (bags are provided for carrying, since you will exit through a different door).
How to act:
Speak quietly, move slowly and be respectful of worshippers. If you take photos don’t use the flash and avoid taking photos of worshippers.
Also to note, the entrance to mosques are free.