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Manisa

Manisa
This was the ancient site of Magnesia and Sipylus and sits at the base of the Manisa Mountain range located 40km east of Menemen and is easily reached via Izmir through lovely mountain roads.  

History

The Greeks destroyed over 90% of its historic centre during their retreat in 1922 although it did manage to keep a few excellent Seljuk and Ottoman monuments similar to Bursa , the city is also close to the ruins of Sardis.  
Homer wrote that Manisa was founded by warriors after the Trojan War; it was passed through by Alexander the Great and in 190 BC was a battleground for the fight between the Romans and Syrians.  Manisa flourished under Roman Rule and in the 13th century was the capital of the Byzantine Empire.  The Seljuk’s took the city in 1313 and it’s from this time the earliest of Manisa’s monuments date.  The Ottoman rulers sent heirs to the throne here to serve apprenticeships as local governors before taking on the difficulties of Istanbul’s palace life.  

Today Manisa is a modern town with extensive parks, is clean and orderly, and thriving.  

Things to do in Manisa

Sultan Mosque and Mesir Festival

The main points of interest here are the Sultan Mosque which was constructed in 1522 for the mother of Suleyman the Magnificent , and every year on the fourth Sunday in April the Power-Gum Festival (Mesir Şenlikleri) is held, as it has been for the last 500 years, to commemorate Merkez Efendi, a local doctor, who made a special gum from 41 different herbs that was used to cure an ailment the Sultan’s mother was suffering from.  The local muezzin throws the gum down to a waiting crowd who believe that by eating it they will be protected from pain until the next festival; it is also believed to have aphrodisiac effects.  

Tomb of Saruhan Bey

Opposite the mosque is the tomb (türbesi) of Saruhan Bey who was responsible for ending the Byzantine rule of Manisa by seizing it in 1313 which is another event that is commemorated annually on November 13.  

Muradiye Mosque and Manisa Museum

Just 100m away is the Muradiye Camii constructed for Murat III in 1583 while he was a governor here and next door housed in what was a soup kitchen (imaret) is Manisa’s museum that displays archaeological and ethnographical artefacts which include objects from Sardis.  

Yeni Alaca Hamam

Further along from here is the Yeni Alaca Hamam which is one of the oldest Turkish baths in Manisa, and the oldest surviving mosque, the Ulu Cami, sits on a terrace within a panoramic park and is 250m above the museum.  

Weeping Rock of Niobe

At the base of Mount Sipylus is the Niobe Aılayan Kaya or “weeping Rock of Niobe” which is in a form of a woman’s head from which tears are supposed to emerge every Friday.  

Mevlevihane

There is also the Mevlevihane, a former meeting place of the Konya based whirling dervish order, the only one in this region, and every Thursday the town’s large market is held where you will find every kind of fruit and vegetable along with cheap clothing and household items.  

Transportation, Hotels and Restaurants

Manisa has a main bus garage and the train station runs daily services to Izmir and there are good modern hotels available.  The restaurants here are fairly average and there are many kebab and pide and pizza salons on offer.

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