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Edirne

Edirne
Edirne is a city in Eastern Thrace, the northwest part of Turkey, close to the borders of Greece and Bulgaria, 230km northwest of Istanbul and sits on a hill overlooking the meeting of the Tunca, Arda and Meric rivers.

History of Edirne

It was the capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1365 to 1453 before Constantinople (Istanbul) became the empire's new capital and is one of Turkey’s best preserved Ottoman cities. 

Famous for the many mosques, domes and minarets that stand out over the city, with one of the most important,
the 16th century Selimiye Mosque, built by Turkey's greatest architect, Mimar Sinan and is on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. Many foreigners come for a day trip of shopping and tourism is a fast growing industry. As a strategic military place and repeatedly captured and raided over the centuries the city entered history as Hadrianopolis under Emperor Hadrian and was the main centre of Roman Thrace. The Byzantines retained its significance as a base because of its close proximity to the Balkans and first stop for attempts on raiding Constantinople.

By the mid 14th century the Ottomans and Byzantines had set in place mutual defence treaties, and with links in marriage, had gained their first permanent foothold on the coast of Thrace. Hadrianopolis yielded to Murat I in 1361 and 100 years later Mehmet the Conqueror trained his troops here in preparation for the march on Constantinople, eventually in 1458 the Ottoman court moved from here to the Bosphorus. For a further three centuries it was a favourite place of numerous sultans for hunting and falconry and earned the name “Happiness Gate” (Der-I Saadet) because of the many victory celebrations, marriages and circumcision ceremonies that took place there. After an earthquake in 1751 and each of the Russo-Turkish wars between 1829 and 1879 along with the Bulgarians who occupied the city in 1931 and committed many atrocities its decline was inevitable.  The Greeks, as World War I Allies, seized control of Turkish Thrace including Edirne from 1920 to 1922 with sovereignty being reinstated back to the Turks by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.  

Things to do in Edirne

It is easy to tour the city on foot and with many of the Ottoman monuments being spread out a full day is recommended to take everything in. Many of the sights are on the north and west sides of town and a pleasant way to get there is by walking following the banks of the Tunca River shaded by willow trees.

Edirne Oil Wrestling Championships

Edirne is also the centre for oil-wrestling (yagli güres in Turkish) which is Turkey’s national sport. The championships are held for 3 days every year in July during the Kirkpinar Festival which also has other traditional entertaining activities. To obtain tickets contact one of the tourist offices and well in advance as tickets sell very quickly.
Some of the places that you can visit in Edirne are as follows:
Selimiye Mosque & Museum

Old Mosque & the Bedesten

Semiz Ali Pasa Bazaar & Kale Ici

Uc Serefeli Mosque and Sokullu Pasa Hamam

Muradiye Mosque

Getting to Edirne

Buses from all over Turkey arrive at Edirne’s otogar (bus garage) 2km southeast of the city centre (a free dolmuş service runs from the otogar to the centre) and most visitors from abroad arrive by train at the station 1km further on. City buses or a taxi will bring you into town from there. Edirne has three tourist offices from where you can pick up maps and brochures.

Edirne Hotels

Hotels tend to be booked solid either by passing drivers, Turkish workers on route back to Germany or the many Eastern Europeans arriving by car.  Reservations need to be made at least one month in advance and especially during Turkish holidays and the Kirkpinar Festival. As there is always a constant demand for rooms the hotel prices can be expensive but if you are willing to bargain as much as a 50% discount can be achieved.

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