Once the Asiatic port for all traffic, both commercial and military, between Istanbul and the far reaches of Asia, the interest religiously in Üsküdar is in the royal mosques of Asia, the interest religiously in Üsküdar is in the royal mosques founded by or for women and in the mosque of the Dönme community. In Roman times the town was known as Chrysopolis, the Golden City, perhaps from the taxes collected here, perhaps also from the light that the evening sun reflects in almost burning gold on the windows of the houses. Another derivation of the name is that it came from the tomb of Chryses, the son of Agamemnon and Chyrysis, the girl over whom Agamemnon and Achilles had a falling out during the Trojan War. The name “Scutari” is thought to refer to the word in Greek for shield bearers.
It was on the hill of Çamlıca above the landing where in 324 Constantine the Great defeated Licinius, the man with whom he had had to share the position of emperor. During the Fourth Crusade the Venetians camped in Scutari (1203) and launched their final attacj against Constantinople. By Ottoman times Üsküdar had become distinguished for its immense Muslim cemetery with its forest of shady cypress trees. In Uskudar the Ottoman armies under the sultans from the 15th through the 17th centuries mustered to begin their campaigns south and east.
During the Crimean War wounded soldiers were hospitalized in the Selimiye Barracks in Haydarpaşa. There they were nursed back to health by Florence Nightingale, the British founder of modern nursing. Her room in the Barracks is now the Florence Nightingale Museum, open every week day. (Haydarpaşa is both a ferry stop and the Asiatic terminal of the Berlin-to-Baghdad railroad.)
Of the royal mosques in Uskudar, all were built either by or for a woman. Two of them are the work of the architect Sinan: the İskele Camii (1547/48), built for Suleyman’s daughter Mihrimah Sultan, and the Eski Valide Camii (1583) built for Nur Banu Sultan, the Italin Jewish wife of Sultan Selim II. The Eski Valide is considered one of the most pleasing of Sinan’s works. The Çinili Cami was founded by Kösem Mahpeyker Sultan, the mother of Sultan Murat IV and Sultan Ibrahim. Its walls are covered with pretty tiles. Gülnuş Sultan is the Queen Mother honored by the Yeni Valide Camii (1710) built………