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border between Greece and Turkey, Edirne was for some years the
capital, and in the 18th century one of the seven largest cities in Europe.
On a verdant plain of poplar trees near the junction of the Tunca and
Meric Rivers, this graceful historical city welcomes visitors as they make
their way to Istanbul and other points east. The people of the Edirne area
trace their origins beyond the rule of the Macedonians. The Roman emperor
Hadrian rebuilt the city and renamed it Hadrianople arter himself. With
the division of the Roman Empire, the
Byzantines claimed Edirne and in
1361 Sultan Mural I added it to his empire.
Its position for almost 100 years as capital of the
accounts for its many historically and architecturally important buildings.
With its mosques, religious complexes, bridges, old bazaars, caravanserais
and palaces, Edirne is a living museum.
The Selimiye Mosque is the city's focal point. Occupying the top of a hill,
Sinan's design reflects the classical
Ottoman style. Built on the orders
of Sultan Selim II, (1569-1575) it testifies to the technological
abilities of the day and the genius of the
Ottoman's master architect.
Built between 1403 and 1414 by Mehmet I, the Eski Mosque is the oldest
Ottoman structure in Edirne. The white marble of the portal contrasts with
the building's cut stone and brick masonry. Calligraphic inscriptions of
Koranic verses decorate the interior.
|The Uc Serefeli
Mosque, built between 1438 and 1447 by Mural I, presages the great period
of Ottoman mosque architecture under Sinan and embodies both a new freedom
from restraint and advances in engineering. The northwest minaret has
three galleries, hence the mosque's name and was the highest minaret until
those of the Selimiye Mosque eclipsed it.
Towards the end of the 15th century, Beyazit II commissioned the architect
Hayrettin to build him a complex in Edirne which includes a mosque,
Darussifa (hospital), medrese, kitchen and store rooms. The mosque is
square in plan and covered with a deep dome; over 100 domes roof the
remainder. The most important of the other buildings is the Daruissifa
which stood out in its time as a modern hospital with a unique and humane
Little has changed in the Kaleici section of Edirne since the Middle Ages.
Narrow streets lined with houses wind through the area. The number of
small restaurants and cafes reflect the district's renaissance.
several of the famous baths in Edirne including the Sokollu, Tahtakale,
Mezit Bey, Beylerbeyl and Gazi Mihal hamams. His work is also seen in the
Ahmet Pasa Caravanseral and the Rustem Pasa Caravanserai of 1561. The last
has been renovated and serves as a charming hotel. The old bedesten of the
early 15th century still functions as Edirne's main market. As you drive
around the area you should notice the many lovely Ottoman bridges which
grace the Tunca and Meric Rivers.
Edirne has retained many of its colonful traditions and customs. Every
summer where the Tunca River divides an emerald green meadow is created
called Sarayici, where the Kirkpinar Greased Wrestling Contests are held.
Shiny, slippery bodies grapple to determine who will emerge as champion.
As you walk through the city and peer into the corners of the grocery
stores, you see blocks of white feta cheese, a local speciality. Hardariye,
another of the city's delicacies, is a grape drink mixed with mustard and
marzipan. Scented soaps, earthenware pots and straw baskets from Edirne
make good souvenirs. You will find it dirticult to resist the beautiful
embroidery work of the local women.
The Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum traces the history of the
area from prehistoric to
Byzantine times and exhibits clothing from the
late Ottoman period. At the Turkish Islamic Art Museum examples of
architectural details, calligraphy, manuscripts, Korans. weapons, glass
and an imperial tent used on military campaigns are displayed.
On the way to the Saroz Gulf in the Aegean Sea, you can stop at Uzunkopru
to see an interesting bridge spanning the Ergene River, nuilt by Murat II
in 1444. Its 174 arches. the highest of which is 12.28 meters, make up its
1354 meter length. The mild climate and beautiful surroundings on the
Saroz Gulf invite holiday makers for a break of relaxation. Whether here
or in Edirne, the hotel and guest-house facilities are plentiful and