The Marmara Region
embraces two continents, one arm reaching out to Asia, the
other to Europe. Through the city's heart, the Bosphorus
strait, courses the waters of the Black Sea, the Sea of
Marmara and the Golden Horn. The former capital of three
successive empires - Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman - today
İstanbul honors and preserves the legacy of its past while
looking forward to its modern future.
it is İstanbul's variety that fascinates its visitors. The
museums, churches, palaces, great mosques, bazaars and sights
of natural beauty seem inexhaustible. As you recline on
the shores of the Bosphorus at sunset, contemplating the
red twilight reflected in the windows on the opposite shore,
you understand, suddenly and profoundly, why so many centuries
ago settlers chose to build on this remarkable site. At
times such as these, you feel that İstanbul is truly one
of the most glorious cities in the world.
a spot of land at the confluence of the Bosphorus, the Golden
Horn and the Marmara Sea, stands Topkapi Palace, a maze
of buildings at the center of the Ottoman Empire between
the l5th and l9th centuries. In these opulent surroundings
the sultans and their court lived and governed. A magnificent
wooded garden fills the outer, or first, court. To the right
of the second court, shaded by cypress and plane trees,
stand the palace kitchens, now galleries exhibiting the
imperial collections of crystal, silver and Chinese porcelain.
To the left, the Harem, the secluded quarters of the wives,
concubines and children of the sultan, charms visitors with
echoes of a centuries old intrigue. Today, the third court
holds the Hall of Audience, the Library of Ahmet III, an
exhibition of imperial costumes worn by the sultans and
their families, the famous jewels of the treasury and a
priceless collection of miniatures from medieval manuscripts.
In the center of this innermost sanctuary, the Pavilion
of the Holy Mantle enshrines the relics of the Prophet Mohammed
brought to İstanbul when the Ottomans assumed the caliphate
of Islam. (Open every day except Tuesday.) For more information
on Topkapi Palace see homepage of Ministry of Culture.
in the mid-l9th century by Sultan Abdülmecit I, the facade
of Dolmabahçe Palace stretches for 600 meters along the
European shore of the Bosphorus. The vast reception salon,
with 56 columns, and a huge crystal chandelier weighing
four and a half tons and lit by 750 lights never fails to
astonish visitors: At one time, birds from all over the
world were kept in the Bird Pavilion for the delight of
the palace's privileged residents. Atatürk, founder of the
Turkish Republic, died in Dolmabahçe on November 10,1938.
(Open every day except Monday and Thursday)
In the 19th century, Sultan Abdülaziz built the Beylerbeyi
Palace, a fantasy in white marble amid magnolia filled gardens,
on the Bosphorus's Aegean Shore. Used as the Sultan's summer
residence, it was offered to the most distinguished foreign
dignitaries during their visits. Empress Eugenie of France
was among its residents. (open everyday except Monday and
In addition to the State Pavilions at Yildiz Palace, the
compound includes a series of pavilions and a mosque. It
was completed by Abdülhamit II at the end of the 19th
century. The Sale, the largest and most exquisite of the
buildings, reveals the luxury in which the sultans lived
and entertained. Set in a huge park of flowers, shrubs and
trees gathered from every part of the world, the palace
grounds offer one of the most beautiful panoramic views
of the Bosphorus. Because of restoration work, only the
Sale and park are open to the public. (Open every day except
Monday and Thursday.)
The Göksu Palace, also known as Küçüksu,
takes its name from the streams which empty into the Bosphorus
near the tiny palace. Built by Abdülmecit I in the
middle of the l9th century, it was used as a summer residence.
(Open every day except Monday and Thursday)
Originally built in the l8th century and later restored
by various sultans, the Aynali Kavak Summer Pavilion assumed
its name, Mirrored Poplar, when its famed mirrors, a gift
from some of the Venetian, were installed in 1718. This
palace on the Golden Horn is one of the most beautiful examples
of traditional Turkish architecture. (Open every day except
Monday and Thursday.)
The 19th century Ihlamur Pavilion is named after the linden
trees that grow in its gardens. Now in the heart of metropolitan
İstanbul, when it was originally constructed, the pavilion
lay in the rolling countryside that surrounded the city.
The Merasim Pavilion was used for official ceremonies while
the Maiyet Pavilion sheltered the sultan's entourage and
on occasions, his harem during their excursions out of the
palace confines. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday.)
The Maslak Pavilion on a shady green hill was conceived
by Sultan Abdülaziz as hunting lodges and are superb
examples of the late l9th century Ottoman decorative style.
These are particularly noteworthy. (Open every day except
Monday and Thursday.)
The Florya Atatürk Sea Pavilion served as a summer
residence for Turkish presidents. Situated in a T-shaped
design jutting out onto the Marmara Sea, this building constructed
in 1935, serves as a showcase for some of the loveliest
examples of early 20th century furnishings. Atatürk
was the first president to stay here. (Open weekdays except
Monday and Thursday.)
St. Sophia stands the supremely elegant, six-minaret, imperial
Sultanahmet Mosque. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect
Mehmet, the building is more familiarly known as the Blue
Mosque because its interior gleams with a magnificent paneling
of blue and white Iznik tiles. During the summer months
an evening light and sound show both entertain and inform.
The cascading domes and four slender minarets of Süleymaniye
Mosque dominate the skyline on the Golden Horn's west bank.
Considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in
İstanbul, it was built between 1550 and 1557 by Sinan, the
renowned architect of the Ottoman golden age. On the crest
of a hill, the building is conspicuous by its great size,
which the four minarets that rise from each corner of the
courtyard emphasize. Inside, the mihrab (prayer niche) and
the mimber (pulpit) are of finely carved white marble; fine
stained glass windows color the incoming streams of light.
It was in the gardens of this complex that Süleyman
and his wife Hürrem Sultan, Roxelane, had their mausolea
built, and near here also that Sinan built his own tomb.
The mosque complex also includes four medrese, or theological
schools, a school of medicine, a caravanserai, a Turkish
bath, and a kitchen and hospice for the poor.
Another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan,
the Rüstem Pasa Mosque was built in 1561 on the orders
of Rüstem Pasa, Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Süleyman
the Magnificent. Exquisite Iznik tiles panel the small and
superbly proportioned interior.
The imperial Fatih Mosque, constructed between 1463 and
1470, bears the name of the Ottoman conqueror of İstanbul,
Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and is the site of his mausoleum. Standing
atop another of İstanbul's hills, its vast size and great
complex of religious buildings; medreses, hospices, baths,
a hospital, a caravanserai and a library, make it well worth
a visit. The great Mosque of Eyüp lies outside the
city walls, near the Golden Horn, at the supposed place
where Eyüp, the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed,
died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in 670 A.D.
The first mosque built after the Ottoman conquest of the
city, this greatly venerated shrine attracts many pilgrims.
Built between 1597 and 1663, the Yeni (New) Mosque hovers
over the harbor at Eminönü, greeting the incoming
ferryboats and welcoming tourists to the old city. Today,
its graceful domes and arches shelter hundreds of pigeons
who make this area their home. Marvelous Iznik tiles decorate
the sultan's balcony.
The l6th century Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque built in an
awkwardly shaped plot on a steeply sloping hill near Sultanahmet
is one of the most beautiful examples of classical Turkish
architecture and a masterpiece of the architect Sinan. Inside,
breathtaking blues, greens, purples and reds color the elegant
designs of the Iznik tiles.
Walls of glass fill the four immense arches that support
the central dome at the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque inside the
Edirne gate of the old city walls. One hundred and sixty-one
windows illuminate this mosque, built by Sinan for Mihrimah
Sultana, the daughter of Süleyman the Magnificent in
Basilica of St. Sophia, now called the Ayasofya Museum,
is unquestionably one of the finest buildings of all time.
Built by Constantine the Great and reconstructed by Justinian
in the 6th century, its immense dome rises 55 meters above
the ground and its diameter spans 31 meters. You should
linger here to absorb the building's majestic serenity and
to admire the fine Byzantine mosaics. (Open every day except
The Archaeological Museums are found just inside the first
court of Topkapi Palace. Included among the displays are
the celebrated Alexander Sarcophagus among its treasures
of antiquity. The Museum of the Ancient Orient displays
artifacts from the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hatti
and Hittite civilisations. (Open every day except Monday.)
built as a kösk or pavilion by Mehmet the Conqueror in the
l5th century, the Çinili Kösk, which houses the Museum of
Turkish Ceramics, contains beautiful Iznik wares from the
l6th century and fine examples of Seljuk and Ottoman pottery
and tiles. (Open every day except Monday.)
the Ayasofya Museum, the St. Irene Museum was originally
a church. It ranks, in fact, as the first church built in
İstanbul. Constantine commissioned it in the fourth century
and Justinian later had the church restored. Reputedly the
building stands on the site of a pre-Christian temple. (Open
every day except Monday.)
The dark stone building that houses the Museum of Turkish
and Islamic Art was built in 1524 by Ibrahim Pasa; Grand
Vizier to Süleyman the Magnificent, as his residence.
It was the grandest private residence ever built in the
Ottoman Empire . Today, it houses a superb collection of
ceramics, metalwork miniatures, calligraphy, textiles, and
woodwork as well as some of the oldest carpets in the world.
(Open every day except Monday.)
Across the street from the Ibrahim Pasa Palace is the Museum
of Turkish Carpets which contains exquisite antique carpets
and kilims gathered from all over Turkey. (Open every day
except Sunday and Monday.)
Near St. Sophia is the sixth century Byzantine cistem known
as the Yerebatan Sarnici. Three hundred and thirty-six massive
Corinthian columns support the immense chamber's fine brick
vaulting. (Open every day except Tuesday.)
The Mosaic Museum preserves in situ exceptionally fine
mosaic pavements of the fifth and sixth centuries which
remain from the Great Palace of the Byzantine emperors.
(Open every day except Monday.)
Kariye Museum, the 11th century church of "St. Savior"
in Chora, is, after St. Sophia, the most important Byzantine
monument in İstanbul. Unremarkable in its architecture,
inside, the walls are decorated with superb l4th century
frescoes and mosaics. Illustrating scenes from the life
of Christ and the Virgin Mary, these brilliantly colored
paintings embody the vigor of Byzantine art. Restored wooden
houses in the area surrounding the church offer tea and
coffee in a relaxed , atmosphere far removed from the city's
hectic pace. (Open every day except Tuesday.)
Aviation Museum in Yesilköy traces the development of air
flight in Turkey. (Open every day except Monday.)
The great field tents used by the Ottoman armies on campaigns
are displayed in the Military Museum. Other exhibits include
Ottoman weapons and the accoutrements of war. The Mehter
Takimi (Ottoman military band) perform Ottoman martial music
between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. (Open every day except Monday
The house in which Atatürk lived in Sisli now serves
as the Atatürk Museum and displays his personal effects.
(Open every day except Saturday and Sunday.)
In the Besiktas district the Naval Museum displays the
great imperial caiques in which the sultans were rowed across
the Bosphorus, as well as many other interesting exhibits
of Ottoman naval history (Open every day except Monday and
Also in Besiktas, the Museum of Fine Arts displays Turkish
paintings and sculptures from the end of the l9th century
to the present day. (Open every day except Monday and Tuesday.)
Located within the gardens of Yildiz Palace, the City Museum
preserves and documents the history of İstanbul since the
Ottoman conquest. (Open every day except Thursday.)
Also within the gardens are the Yildiz Palace, Theatre
and the Historic Stage Costumes Museum, with its richly
decorated scenery and stage, and its exquisite costumes.
Rahmi Koç Industry Museum, in the suburb of Hasköy
on the coast of the Golden Horn, an Ottoman-period iron-
and steel-works building formerly called Lengerhane, it
houses industrial development exhibits. (Open every day
Up the Bosphorus in the picturesque suburb of Büyükdere,
the collections of the Sadberk Hanim Museum fill two charming
l9th century wooden villas. A private museum which originally
displayed Turkish decorative arts, it has recently been
expanded with a new collection of archaeological finds.
(Open every day except Wednesday.)
The ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and
the center of Byzantine civic life, stood in the open space
in front of the Blue Mosque, an area now called Sultanahmet.
Of the monuments which once decorated it, only three remain:
the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column
and the Column of Constantine. Remains from the curved-end
section of the Hippodrome's wall can be seen on the southwest
side of these three monuments. Today, the square forms the
center of İstanbul's historical, cultural and tourism activities.
You should take particular note of the surrounding wooden
houses, particularly the l8th century ones on Sogukçesme
Street. Delightfully restored, they have new life as small
hotels and one houses a fascinating library of books on
The Ahmet III Fountain, built in 1729, stands at the entrance
to Topkapi Palace. Deep overhanging eaves shade the water
spouts where the parched could stop for a cup of refreshing
water. This highly ornate, free-standing fountain is a superb
example of the late Ottoman style.
Mahmut II built the Beyazit Tower (85 meters high) in 1828
as a fire tower. Today it stands within the grounds of İstanbul
The Bozdogan-Valens Aqueduct, built in 368 A.D., supplied
the Byzantine and later the Ottoman palaces with water.
Today part of the remaining 900 meters of double-tiered
arches straddle the major highway that runs through the
old part of town.
The İstanbul land walls, once an impenetrable fortification,
stretch seven kilometers from the Sea of Marmara to the
Golden Horn. Restored recently, and many times previously,
these walls date from the fifth century and the reign of
Emperor Theodosius II. UNESCO has declared the land walls
and the area which they enclose to be one of the cultural
heritages of the world.
The Galata Tower, a Genoese construction of 1348, rises
62 meters high over the Golden Horn. From the top, you see
a marvelous panorama of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.
In the evening, tourists enjoy its popular restaurant, nightclub
Hisari, or the European Fortress, was built by Mehmet the
Conqueror in 1452 prior to his capture of İstanbul. Completed
in only four months, it is one of the most beautiful works
of military architecture in the world. (Open every day except
Known as Leander's Tower, Kiz Kulesi is one of the romantic
symbols of İstanbul. First constructed in the l2th century
on a tiny island at the entrance to İstanbul's harbor, the
present building dates from the l8th century.
İstanbul Boğazı (Bosphorus)
stay in İstanbul is not complete without the traditional
and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus, the winding
strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores offer
a delightful mixture of past and present, grand splendor
and simple beauty. Modern hotels stand next to yali (shorefront
wooden villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses,
and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages. The
best way to see the Bosphorus is to board one of the passenger
boats that regularly zigzag along the shores. You embark
Eminönü and stop alternately on the Asian and
European sides of the strait. The round-trip excursion,
at a very reasonable cost, takes about six hours. If you
wish a private voyage, you can contact one of the agencies
which specialize in organizing day or night mini-cruises.
During the journey, you pass in front of the magnificent
Dolmabahçe Palace; farther along rise the green parks
and imperial pavilions of Yildiz Palace. On the edge of
this park, on the coast, stands Çiragan Palace ,now
restored as a grand hotel. Refurbished in 1874 by Sultan
Abdülaziz, it stretches for 300 meters along the Bosphorus
shore, its ornate marble facades reflecting the swiftly
moving water. In Ortaköy, the next stop, artists gather
every Sunday to exhibit their works in a streetside gallery.
The variety of people create a lively scene; sample a delicious
bite from one of the street vendors. In Ortaköy, there
is a church, mosque and a synagogue that have existed side
by side for hundreds of years - a tribute to Turkish secularism
and tolerance. Overshadowing İstanbul's traditional architecture
is the Bosphorus Bridge, one of the world's largest suspension
bridges linking Europe and Asia.
beautiful Beylerbeyi Palace lies just past the bridge on
the Asian side. Behind the palace rises Çamlica Hill, the
highest point of İstanbul. You can drive here to admire
the magnificent panorama of İstanbul as well as the beautiful
landscaped gardens. On the opposite shore, the wooden Ottoman
villas of Arnavutköy contrast with the luxurious modern
apartments of neighboring Bebek. A few kilometers farther
out, facing each other across the straits like sentries
guarding the city, stand the fortresses of Rumeli Hisari
and Anadolu Hisari. The Göksu Palace, sometimes known as
Küçüksu Palace graces the Asian shore, next to Anadolu Hisari.
The second link between the two continents; the Fatih Sultan
Mehmet Bridge straddles the waterway just past the two fortresses.
From Duatepe Hill, on the European side, you can admire
the magnificent panorama of the bridge and the Bosphorus.
Below Duatepe, beautiful Emirgan Park bursts with color
when the tulips bloom in spring. Opposite, on the Asian
shore is Kanlica, a fishing village now a favored suburb
for wealthy İstanbulites. Crowds gather in the restaurants
and cafes along its shores to sample its famous yogurt.
Shortly after Kanlica and Çubuklu is the Beykoz Korusu
(Abraham Pasa Woods), a popular retreat. In the cafes and
restaurants you can enjoy the delightful views and clear
fresh air. On the European side, at Tarabya Bay, yachts
seem to dance at their moorings. The coast road bustles
with taverns and fish restaurants from Tarabya to the charming
suburbs of Sariyer and Büyükdere. Sariyer has
one of the largest fish markets in İstanbul and is also
famous for its delicious varieties of milk puddings and
börek (pastries). A little further on past Sariyer,
the narrow strait widens and disappears into the Black Sea.
Haliç - The Golden Horn
horn-shaped estuary, divides European İstanbul. One of the
best natural harbors in the world, the Byzantine and Ottoman
navies and commercial shipping interests were centered here.
Today, lovely parks and promenades line the shores where
the setting sun dyes the water a golden color. In Fener
and Balat, neighbourhoods midway up the Golden Horn, whole
streets of old wooden houses, churches, and synagogues date
from Byzantine and Ottoman times. The Orthodox Patriarchy
resides here at Fener. Eyüp, a little further up, reflects
the Ottoman style of vermicular architecture.
Cemeteries sprinkled with dark cypress trees cover the
hillsides. Many pilgrims come to the tomb of Eyüp in the
hope that their prayers will be granted. The Pierre Loti
Cafe, atop the hill overlooking the shrine is a wonderful
place to enjoy the tranquility of the view.
Yachting & Golf
is a popular activity in İstanbul. This is the only place
in the world where you can enjoy the beauty of a mystical
landscape while sailing back through history to Roman, Byzantine
and Ottoman times, and view magnificent castles, palaces
and mosques. From the North Sea through the European interior,
yachters can sail down the European channel system and the
Rhine and Danube Rivers into the Black Sea harbors and to
the İstanbul-Bogazi and İstanbul marinas - a safe and short
way to get there. Sail on the İstanbul Bogazi under the
enormous bridges spanning two continents and around the
Princes' Islands to their beautiful bays. You may anchor
and enjoy the serenity of this area. After enjoying all
of the sights return to one of the two large marinas in
the area. Ataköy Marina is on the European side and Kalamis
Marina is on the Asian side. Both offer 24-hour service.
International Offshore Yacht races are held in İstanbul
The İstanbul region offers lovely opportunities for golfing
enthusiasts: The Klassis Golf and Country Club, 65 km from
İstanbul in Silivri, is the area's second-largest golf club,
with an 18-hole course and a 9-hole course. The Kemer Golf
and Country Club,18 km from İstanbul in the Belgrad Forest
near the town of Kemerburgaz, offers a formidable test of
golf skill on its 9-hole course. The İstanbul Golf Club
in the Ayazaga district of İstanbul has a 9-hole course.
Art, Culture and Entertainment
İstanbul is an international art and cultural center. The
International Arts and Cultural Festival is held each year
in June and July with famous artists coming from all over
the world. These performances are held mostly in the Atatürk
Cultural Center. Those enjoying classical music can hear
it at Cemal Resit Rey Hall. Operas, operettas, ballets,
film, concerts, exhibitions and conferences all share the
cultural palette of the city. İstanbul also has a rich program
of light entertainment. Nightclubs provide splendid entertainment
throughout dinner, ranging from a selection of Turkish songs
to the famous bellydance. İstanbul is an international gambling
city with many casinos.
Alongside these are modern discos, cabarets, and jazz clubs
in the Taksim-Harbiye district.
In Sultanahmet, there are a number of restaurants in restored
Byzantine and Ottoman buildings which offer a unique setting
for an evening out.
with its many taverns, bars and fish restaurants, is another
attractive district. People have been meeting for years
in Beyoglu district's Çiçek Pasaji for snacks and seafood
specialties. Also in this district, the narrow Nevizede
street, near Çiçek Pasaji, is the best place in İstanbul
for eating Turkish specialties and drinking raki.
On the Bosphorus, Ortaköy is the best place for nightlife
in İstanbul, with its nightclubs, jazz clubs, fine seafood
restaurants and bars.
In Eminönü ,don't miss an opportunity to see
the fishermen dressed in traditional Ottoman clothes on
their Ottoman-style boats where you may board and taste
their famous delicious fried fish.
could visit İstanbul for the shopping alone. The Kapali
Çarsi, or Covered Bazaar, in the old city is the logical
place to start. This labyrinth of streets and passages houses
more than 4,000 shops. The names recall the days when each
trade had its own quarter: Goldsmiths' street, Carpet sellers'
street, Skullcap makers. Still the commercial center of
the old city, the bazaar is the original shopping mall with
something to suit every taste and pocket.
Turkish crafts, the world-renowned carpets, brilliant handpainted
ceramics, copper, brassware, and meerschaum pipes make charming
souvenirs and gifts. The gold jewelry in brilliantly lit
cases blinds passersby. Leather and suede goods of excellent
quality make a relatively inexpensive purchase. The Old
Bedesten, in the heart of the bazaar, offers a curious assortment
of antiques. It is worth poking through the clutter of decades
in the hope of finding a treasure.
Misir Çarsisi or Spice Bazaar, next to Yeni Mosque in Eminönü,
transports you to fantasies of the mystical East. The enticing
aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every
other conceivable herb and spice fill the air. Sultanahmet
has become another shopping mecca in the old city. The İstanbul
Sanatlari Çarsisi (Bazaar of İstanbul Arts) in the l8th
century Mehmet Efendi Medresesi, and the nearby l6th century
Caferaga Medrese, built by Sinan, offer a chance to see
craftsmen at work and to purchase their wares. In the Arasta
(old bazaar) of the Sultanahmet Mosque, a thriving shopping
arcade makes shopping and sightseeing very convenient.
The sophisticated shops of the Taksim-Nisantasi-Sisli districts
contrast with the chaos of the bazaars. On Istiklal Avenue,
Cumhuriyet Avenue and Rumeli Avenue, you can browse peacefully
in the most fashionable shops that sell elegant fashions
made from Turkey's high quality textiles. Exquisite jewelry
as well as finely designed handbags and shoes can also be
found. The Ataköy Galleria Mall in Ataköy and
Akmerkez Mall in Etiler have branches of İstanbul's most
elegant shops. Bahariye Avenue, Bagdat Avenue, and Capitol
Mall on the Asian side, offer the same goods.
In İstanbul's busy flea markets you can find an astonishing
assortment of goods, both old and new. Everyday offers a
new opportunity to poke about the Sahaflar Çarsisi
and Çinaralti in the Beyazit district. On Sundays,
in a flea market between the Sahaflar and the Covered Bazaar,
vendors uncover their wares on carts and blankets. The Horhor
Çarsisi is a collection of shops that sell furniture
of varying age and quality. The flea market in the Topkapi
district, on Çukurcuma Sokak in Cihangir, on Büyük
Hamam Sokak in Üsküdar, in the Kadiköy Çarsi
Duragi area, and between Eminönü and Tahtakale,
are open daily. After a Sunday drive up the Bosphorus, stop
between Büyükdere and Sariyer to wander through
another lively market.
The Environs of İstanbul
The Princes' Islands, an archipelago of nine islands in
the Sea of Marmara, were places of exile for Byzantine princes.
Today, during the summer months, İstanbul's wealthy, escape
to their cool sea breezes, and elegant l9th century houses.
Büyükada is the largest of the islands. Here you can enjoy
a ride in a horse-drawn phaeton (carriage) among the pine
trees, or relax on a beach in one of the numerous coves
that ring the island. The other popular islands are Kinali,
Sedef, Burgaz and Heybeliada. Regular ferry boats connect
the islands with both the European and Asian shores. A faster
sea bus service operates from Kabatas in the summer.
On the European side of the Black Sea coast, 25 km from
the outskirts of İstanbul, Kilyos's long, broad sandy beaches
draw crowds of İstanbul residents in the summer months.
The Belgrad Forest, inland from the Black Sea on the European
side, is the largest forest around İstanbul. On weekends,
İstanbulites drive out to its shade for family picnics and
barbecues. Seven ancient reservoirs and a number of natural
springs refresh the air. The Ottoman aqueducts, of which
the l6th Century Moglova Aqueduct built by Sinan is the
most splendid, lend a majesty to the natural surroundings.
Overshadowing the entrance to Kemer Golf and Country Club
is the 800-meter-long Sultan Süleyman Aqueduct, also built
by Sinan; it is one of the longest in Turkey. The 500-stable
Equestrian Center offers trail riding.
On the Asian side, Polonezköy, 25 km from İstanbul,
was founded in the l9th century by Polish immigrants. İstanbul
residents come to its pastoral landscape for walks, horseback
riding and to enjoy the traditional Polish food served by
descendants of the original settlers. On the Black Sea,
70 km from Üsküdar, Sile's sandy beaches, fish
restaurants and hotels make it one of the most delightful
holiday places near İstanbul. Sile bezi, cool cotton clothing,
popular with tourists, is fashioned here.
The Bayramoglu-Darica Bird's Paradise and Botanic Park,
38 km from İstanbul, is a unique rest area; many species
of birds and plants from all over the world can be seen
in this huge park, which also has restaurants and a promenade
The charming fishing town of Eskihisar, southeast of İstanbul,
boasts a marina where yachtsmen can moor their boats after
a day out in the Sea of Marmara. In town, the house of Osman
Hamdi Bey, Turkey's great l9th century painter, has been
converted into a museum. Neighboring sites include the tomb
of Hannibal between Eskihisar and Gebze, and a Byzantine
Many İstanbulites have summer homes near Silivri, the popular
vacation area about 65 km from İstanbul. A large holiday
resort, it offers everything from casinos to sporting, health
and fitness facilities, including the Klassis Country and
Golf Club, to excellent dining. The conference center attracts
business people who escape the city's fast pace for a working
holiday. A regular sea bus service connects İstanbul to
A fast highway connects İstanbul with Izmit, the capital
of the Kocaeli province. An important city in Roman times
when it was known as Nicomedela, it is now a prosperous
industrial center. The Saatçi Efendi Konak, a restored typical
l8th century Ottoman mansion, now serves as the Ethnography
Museum. Pismaniye, the local sweet, consists of thousands
of thin layers of stretched sugar.
Hereke, west of Izmit, is a major carpet making center.
Renowned throughout the world for their beauty and quality,
these carpets fetch the highest prices in İstanbul's bazaars.
On the Black Sea coast, north of Izmit, particularly at
Kerpe, Kefken and Kovanagzi, sandy beaches and comfortable
guest houses attract vacationers.
East of Izmit, Sakarya is the provincial capital of Adapazari,
an important agricultural and industrial region. The Sakarya
(Sangarius) River irrigates this fertile land which abounds
with fruit trees and fields of vegetables. In the city of
Adapazari itself, the Atatürk and Ethnography Museum
displays personal effects of the founder of the Turkish
Republic as well as regional artifacts. The Besköprü
Bridge, built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in 553,
stretches for 429 meters across the river. Eight arches
connect the two shores.
A few kilometers away at Lake Sapanca, quiet restaurants,
hotels, and summer residences line the lakeshore. İstanbulites
escape to this retreat in the Saman Mountain basin throughout
the year. The Artifiye Forest on the highlands of Lake Sapanca
has nice camping and picnic areas and an excellent panoramic
view of the lake below.
The Akgöl Lake lies just inland from the Black Sea
Karasu holiday center; both places offer scenic surroundings.
At Tarakli you can wander through a town that preserves
many of its old buildings.
The province of Bilecik lies southeast of Iznik in the
verdant and fertile Sakarya River Valley. In the old quarter
of the city stands the mausoleum of Seyh Edebali, who was
an important influence in the founding of the Ottoman Empire.
Every September, a commemorative ceremony and a culture
festival are held here in his honor. The Orhan Gazi Mosque
is near his tomb.
Set amid the numerous willows which give Sögüt
its name, a detour to this town is well worth the effort.
The migrating Kayi Turks first settled here, and the tomb
of their leader Ertugrul Gazi stands in the town. In September,
a commemorative ceremony is held in his honor. Other tourist
attractions include the life-size busts of famous figures
from Turkish history and the Ethnography Museum which traces,
through its displays, the history of Turkey.
Seventeen kilometers west of Yalova, the relaxing resort
area of Çinarcik has lovely beaches and modem holiday complexes.
Helenapolis was the ancient name of Yalova which honored
the memory of Emperor Constantine's mother Helena who designed
the entire city of Yalova. Today, Yalova is an important
port city, famous for its thermal baths. Termal, in the
southwestern part of the city is the thermal district center
and the best place in Turkey to take the curative thermal
bath waters. In Termal, there's a wonderful panoramic view
of the entire Termal district center from the top of a hill
overlooking the city. The Atatürk Mansion, now a museum
is located in Yalova, (open to the public weekdays except
Monday and Thursday) . Built in 1929, Atatürk's former
summer residence displays original furnishings from the
early 20th century.
Formerly known as Nicaea, Iznik lies at the eastern tip
of Lake Iznik, south of Izmit. Originally an important Roman
and Byzantine town, it fell to the Seljuks in 1078 and subsequently
to the Ottomans in 1331. Still a small town, it does not
seem to have exceeded its original Roman walls. The four
gates which allowed access to the city still stand. In the
town center the ruins of the St. Sophia Cathedral, the seat
of the first Ecumenical Council of 325, evoke images of
convening bishops and clergy. In the l6th and 17th centuries,
Iznik was the center of exquisite ceramic ware production
which has made such an important decorative contribution
to mosques and palaces throughout Turkey. A museum displays
finds from nearby excavations. Among the important Islamic
buildings in town, be sure to visit the turquoise tiled
Yesil Mosque and the Nilüfer Hatun Imareti. After exploring
the sights, the lakeside fish restaurants provide delicious
food and a relaxing atmosphere.
Yenisehir, on the road to Bursa, is filled with many interesting
and lovely old Turkish houses. The l8th century Semaki Mansion,
now restored as a museum, welcomes visitors. The city of
Bursa, southeast of the Sea of Marmara, lies on the lower
slopes of Uludag (Mt. Olympos of Mysia, 2,443 meters). The
city derives its name from its founder Prusias, King of
Bithynia. It subsequently came under Roman, then Byzantine
rule before falling to Orhan Gazi in 1326 , becoming the
first capital of the Ottoman Empire. Many important Ottoman
Known as "Green Bursa", the city is filled with
gardens and parks and overlooks a verdant plain. It is at
the centre of an important fruit growing region. Bursa was,
and is still, famous for its silk trade, towel manufacture
and thermal springs. You must taste locally invented Iskender
Kebab, a dish of bread, tomato sauce, strips of grilled
meat, melted butter and yogurt. Candied chestnuts are another
tour of the city begins in the eastern section at the Yesil
Türbe (Green Mausoleum). Set in a garden and distinguished
by its paneling of blue tiles, the mausoleum holds the tiled
cenotaph of Sultan Mehmet I. Across the street, the Yesil
Mosque of 1424 reflects the new Ottoman, as opposed to the
Seljuk, aesthetic. A medrese nearby completes the complex,
which is also home to the Ethnography Museum. Before exploring
this area, stop for a glass of tea in one of the traditional
tea houses. Uphill, to the east, you pass by the Emir Sultan
Mosque in its delightful setting, and after walking through
a district of old houses you reach the Yildirim Beyazit
Now make your way to Cumhuriyet Square (known locally as
Heykel) and stroll along Atatürk Avenue to Koza Park
where outdoor cafes are set among flowers and fountains.
At the back of the park, a long building, the Koza Han (1490),
houses the trade in silk cocoons. From here you proceed
to the covered bazaar area, with its narrow streets, caravanserais
and bedesten. On the other side of Koza Park stands the
Orhan Gazi Mosque, built in 1413, and one of Bursa's oldest
religious buildings. Nearby, the large Ulu Mosque was constructed
in the Seljuk style. A finely carved walnut mimber and impressive
calligraphic panels decorate the mosque. The sadirvan (ablutions
fountain) lies amazingly within the mosque itself under
the ceiling of twenty domes.
Walking west from Ulu Mosque you arrive at Hisar, an old
and picturesque quarter of Bursa. In the park that overlooks
the valley are the mausoleums of Osman, the founder of the
Ottoman Empire, and his son Orhan Gazi, who commanded the
army that conquered Bursa. The cafes of Tophane offer a
good place to stop for refreshment. In nearby Ressamlar
Sokak (Painters' Street), local artists work in the open
air. At the Yildiz Park, Tea Gardens in the Muradiye quarter,
you get a superb view of the Muradiye Complex. The compound,
in a tranquil park-like setting, contains the Mosque of
Sultan Murat II (1426) built in the style of the Yesil Mosque
and the tombs of Murat II, Cem and Sehzade Mustafa. These
contain some of the loveliest decoration and tile work.
The nearby Ottoman House Museum in a restored l7th century
dwelling provides an interesting glimpse into the lives
of wealthy Ottomans.
A tour of the city begins in the eastern section at the
Yesil Türbe (Green Mausoleum). Set in a garden and
distinguished by its paneling of blue tiles, the mausoleum
holds the tiled cenotaph of Sultan Mehmet I. Across the
street, the Yesil Mosque of 1424 reflects the new Ottoman,
as opposed to the Seljuk, aesthetic. A medrese nearby completes
the complex, which is also home to the Ethnography Museum.
Before exploring this area, stop for a glass of tea in one
of the traditional tea houses. Uphill, to the east, you
pass by the Emir Sultan Mosque in its delightful setting,
and after walking through a district of old houses you reach
the Yildirim Beyazit (1391). Other places of interest in
Bursa include the Culture Park with the Bursa Archaeological
Museum, and the Atatürk Museum on the road to Çekirge.
The western suburb of Çekirge has been known since
Roman times for its warm, mineral rich springs. Many modem
hotels have thermal bath facilities and you can also visit
the old hamams. Yeni Kaplica (New Spring) was built by Süleyman
the Magnificent Grand Vizier, Rüstem Pasa, in 1552.
The Eski Kaplica (Old Spring), built on the site of the
original Byzantine baths, is the oldest bath. The Karamustafa
Pasa baths are reputed to have the best hot mineral water
in Bursa. Buildings of interest in Çekirge include
the Mosque and Mausoleum of Murat I and the tomb of Süleyman
Çelebi, a religious poet. The monument to Karagöz
commemorates the character whose humorous antics are immortalized
in Turkish shadow puppet theater.
is the largest winter sports center in Turkey and offers
a variety of activities, accommodations and entertainment.
Thirty-six kilometers from Bursa, the slopes are easily
reached by car or cable car (skylift). December to May is
the best time for skiing, although the area, which is a
national park, is well worth a visit at any time of the
year, for the lovely views and wonderful fresh air.
A seaside resort town 25 km from Bursa, Mudanya's fine
fish restaurants and nightclubs are popular with the residents
of Bursa. The Armistice Museum is worth a visit. Just 12
km from Mudanya, Zeytinbagi (Tirilye) exemplifies the architecture
and layout of a typical Turkish town. The Gulf of Gemlik,
29 km from Bursa has wide sandy beaches; Armutlu and Kumla
are the favorites. The province of Balıkesir borders both
the Marmara and Aegean regions. In the capital of Balıkesir,
nature and interesting historical sites blend in harmony.
The mid-l4th century Yildirim Mosque, built by Beyazit I,
is the city's oldest mosque. Of Zagnos Pasa Mosque, built
in 1461 by Mehmet the Conqueror's Grand Vizier Zagnos Pasa,
and once part of a great complex, only the mosque and bath
remain today. The Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower) built in 1827
by Mehmet Pasa imitates the Genoese Galata Tower on a smaller
scale. The Karesi Bey Mausoleum of 1336 contains the cenotaphs
of Karesi Bey and his five sons.
Once known as ancient Erteka, Erdek is just 14 km northwest
of Bandirma. One of the Sea of Marmara's oldest and most
famous resort areas, it offers pristine beaches and every
type of accommodation.
Marmara Island, formerly known as Prokonessos, rose to
prominence in the Roman period and retained its importance
in the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, because of its marble
quarries, which supplied the luxurious stone for the extravagant
imperial building programs. Near Saraylar village, Marble
Beach derives its name from the natural marble that lies
just off the water's edge. In town, an open-air museum displays
artifacts which date back to Roman and Byzantine times,
and the marble quarry, where tourists can see every step
of the quarrying process.
Türkeli (Avsa) is another holiday island that boasts
of spectacular beaches and clear water as well as famous
vineyards and wine cellars. In the Manastir district stands
the Byzantine Meryem Ana Monastery.
Fifty-five kilometers southwest of Bandirma, Gönen
is Turkey's most important thermal resort. The springs were
used even in Roman times and a fifth century mosaic remains
from what was originally a Roman bath. These waters come
from 500 meters below the ground and emerge heated at approximately
82oC. Another 30 km to the northwest, Denizkent is a nice
vacation spot with lovely beaches.
Sindirgi lies at the base of the Alaçam Mountains
amid beautiful forests and meadows in a region known for
the weaving of superb Turkish carpets. The rugs of Yagcibedir
are among the most prized in the country and grow more lovely
the older they become.
the Gulf of Edremit, also in Balıkesir province, are some
of the most beautiful coastlines in the country where the
clear waters meet sandy beaches encircled by the silvery
green of olive groves. Ayvalik, Burhaniye, Ören, Edremit,
Akçay and Altinoluk are all holiday towns which attract
vacationers interested in a relaxing holiday , with beautiful
scenery, and a wealth of historical and archaeological sites.
The beautiful Değirmen Boğazı, an area ten kilometers from
Balıkesir towards Bursa lies between two hills. Families
flock to this scenic spot and its restaurants during weekends
and holidays. At Karakol village , photographers can capture
the three picturesque windmills on film. Ancient Penderamus,
now called Bandirma, is today an important commercial and
industrial harbor second only to İstanbul. You can spend
a pleasant afternoon in the town's restaurants and cafes.
Belkis (Kyzikos) lies ten kilometers west of Bandirma. In
this ancient city on the Kapidag Peninsula's isthmus, the
Temple of Hadrian, a theater and aqueducts still stand,
captivating visitors. The Kus Cenneti National Park near
Lake Manyas is an ornithological site where 239 different
species of birds Nourish. Every year, over three million
birds fly through this preserve. April and May are the best
months to enjoy the wildlife. Thirteen kilometers southeast
of Bandirma in Karacabey, horse farms breed magnificent
specimens of this beloved animal.
The city of Çanakkale lies at the narrow,1,200 meter entrance
to the Çanakkale Strait that connects the Sea of Marmara
and the Aegean whose shores touch both Europe and Asia.
Passenger and car ferries run daily between Çanakkale on
the Asian side; Eceabat and Kilitbahir on the European side.
Yachts navigating the straits stop at the well-equipped
Çanakkale Marina to allow tourists more time in the area.
Hotels, restaurants and cafes along the promenade, offer
a place to enjoy the comings and goings of the harbor, and
view of the Kilitbahir Fortress and the Çanakkale Archaeological
In 1451, Sultan Mehmet II, later the conqueror of İstanbul,
built one fortress on the European side of the Çanakkale
Strait at Kilitbahir and one on the opposite shore at Çimenlik
to control the passage of ships through the strait. Today
the Çimenlik fortress serves as a military museum
dedicated to the Çanakkale Battle.
Peninsula Historical National Park was established to honor
the 500,000 soldiers who gave their lives on Gelibolu also
known as Gallipoli. In 1915, Mustafa Kemal, commander of
the Turkish army, led a successful campaign to drive out
the allied powers from the area. The park includes memorials,
monuments, cemeteries, the natural beauty of the Ariburnu
Cliffs and Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake). The beauty of the green
hills, sandy beaches and blue waters provides an honored
resting place for the soldiers who bravely fought and died
in this historic battle. You cannot help but sense the heart
of the Turkish nation in the special spirit of this place.
The largest of the Turkish islands, Gökçeada
is ringed with pristine bays. Its hills, covered in the
contrasting greens of pines and olive trees are dotted with
sacred springs and monasteries. Regularly scheduled ferry
boats make the trip from Çanakkale and Kabatepe.
In August, islanders and tourists gather for colorful local
As you approach Bozcaada Island, the Venetian castle commands
your attention. Then your eyes are drawn to the glistening
white houses and the restaurants and cafes which line the
promenade. Wine seems as plentiful as water on this island;
a circuit reveals many vineyards and wine cellars. There
are good sandy beaches at Ayazma, Poyraz and Igdelik.
immortalized Truva (Troy) in the stories of King Priamus,
Hector, Paris and the beautiful Helen. Archaeological excavations
have revealed nine separate periods of settlement and the
ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theatre.
A symbolic wooden Trojan horse commemorates the legendary
war. The ancient harbor of Alexandria-Troas was built in
the 3rd century B.C. St. Paul visited here twice, and on
his third missionary journey, he continued from here to
The acropolis of Assos (Behramkale) is 238 meters above
sea level and the Temple of Athena was constructed on this
site in the 6th century B.C. This Doric temple is being
restored to its former glory and role as guardian of the
Biga Peninsula and Edremit Gulf. Linger to see the moonlight
scattered through the temple ruins, or rise early for the
gentle awakening of dawn over the acropolis, from the top
of which you can take in the magnificent vista of the Gulf
of Edremit; and you will appreciate why this heavenly location
was chosen. On the terraces descending to the sea are agoras,
a gymnasium and a theatre. From the northern corner of the
acropolis, you can see a mosque, a bridge and fortress,
all built in the l4th century by the Ottoman Sultan Murat
I. Below lies a tiny and idyllic ancient harbor. Assos has
gained the reputation of being the center of the Turkish
art community with its lively, friendly and bohemian atmosphere.
This may be the holiday you will remember for years to come.
25 km west of Behramkale, in the village of Gülpinar
is the ancient city of Chryse where the 2nd century B.C:
temple of Apollon Smintheus is located. 15 km west of Gülpinar
on an unmarked road along the jagged coastline lies Babakale,
a scenic village of houses terraced on a cliff which drops
to the sea.
The town of Biga has lent its name to its entire peninsula.
A town of parks, it is a good place to see houses built
in a traditional style. The closest beaches are at Karabiga
and Sahmelek, where you will find reasonably priced accommodations.
Karabiga was known in ancient times as Priapos, after the
god, and thus has cult and fertility associations. Çan
is well known for its ceramics and sulphur springs, said
to be helpful in various disorders of the liver, intestine
and urinary tract. There are two other hot springs at nearby
Külcüler and Kirazli.
Kaz Dagi (Mt. Ida, 1774 meters) is situated at the southern
tip of Çanakkale by the beautiful Kaz Dagi National
Park with magnificent landscapes, peaceful green areas and
several hot springs. At the northern entrance, via Bayramiç
and Evciler, to the Kaz Dagi National Park are the main
day-camping facilities. In Bayramiç, 60 km from Çanakkale
is the beautiful 18th century Hadimogullari Mansion (Ottoman
House) with its ethnography museum.
On the opposite, northern shore of the Sea of Marmara,
Tekirdağ is an important commercial harbor. From both sides
of this modem city of lovely promenades, stretch beautiful
sandy beaches. A happy mixture of sunflower fields and vineyards
cover the surrounding area. The most important architectural
monument is the Sinan-designed Rüstem Pasa Mosque, built
by Süleyman the Magnificent's Grand Vizier in 1554. The
Archaeology and Ethnography Museum displays an extensive
collection of artifacts from the area. The Rakoczy Museum
occupies the house where the Hungarian prince, Rakoczy Ferench
II (1676-1735), who fought for his people's liberation,
lived out the last years of his life. The Namik Kemal Memorial
(1840-1888) honors the birthplace of the Turkish national
poet. Sixty kilometers west of Tekirdağ, the holiday center
of Sarköy ve Mürefte is a renowned winetasting region; beautiful
vineyards cover the entire area, and the city hosts a wine
festival every year.
of Tekirdağ on the border between Greece and Turkey, Edirne
was for some years the Ottoman capital, and in the l8th
century one of the seven largest cities in Europe. On a
verdant plain of poplar trees near the junction of the Tunca
and Meriç Rivers, this graceful historical city welcomes
visitors as they make their way to İstanbul 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 after himself.
With the division of the Roman Empire, the Byzantines claimed
Edirne and in 1361, Sultan Murat I added it to his empire.
Its position for almost 100 years as capital of the Ottoman
Empire 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.
Sinan 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 attests 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 its portal contrasts with the building's
cut stone and brick masonry. Calligraphic inscriptions of
Koranic verses decorate the interior.
The Üç Serefeli Mosque, built between 1438 and 1447 by
Murat 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 l5th century, Beyazit II commissioned
the architect Hayrettin to build him a complex in Edirne
which includes a mosque, Darüssifa (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 Darüssifa
which stood out in its time as a modern hospital with a
unique and humane architectural design.
Little has changed in the Kaleiçi section of Edirne
since the Middle Ages. Narrow streets lined with houses
wind through the area. The number of small restaurants arid
cafes reflect the district's renaissance.
Sinan built several of the famous baths in Edirne including
the Sokollu, Tahtakale, Mezit Bey, Beylerbeyi and Gazi Mihal
hamams. His work is also seen in the Ahmet Pasa Caravanserai
and the Rüstem Pasa Caravanserai of 1561. The latter
has been renovated and serves as a charming hotel. The old
bedesten of the early l5th century still functions as Edirne's
main market. As you drive around the area you will notice
many lovely Ottoman bridges gracing the Tunca and Meriç
has retained many of its colorful traditions and customs.
Every summer, where the Tunca River divides, an emerald
green meadow is created, called Sarayiçi, 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 specialty. Hardaliye, 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 difficult to resist the
beautiful embroidery work of the local women.
The Archaeology and Ethnography 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 Ottoman 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 Uzunkõprü to see an interesting bridge
spanning the Ergene River, built by Murat II in 1444. Its
174 arches, the highest of which is 12.28 meters, make up
its 1,354 meter length. The mild climate and beautiful surroundings
on the Saroz Gulf invite holiday makers for a break of relaxation.
On the northern point of the gulf are the lovely Ibrice
and Erikli beaches. Here the hotel and guest-house facilities
are plentiful and reasonably priced.
Enez (Ainos) was an important port in ancient times, today
it lies 3.5 km. inland. Its origins can be traced to the
l2th century B.C. and was an important settlement during
the Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Currently,
it remains an open-air museum and was built by the Kyle
people and was known as a colony of western Anatolian civilisation.
Enez Castle has been restored several times throughout history
and is well worth a visit. There is also a church dating
from the 6th century B.C., some carved tombs and a beach
with clear water. The people here are quite hospitable and
Enez makes an interesting stopover.
The Yildiz (Istranca) Mountains divide the province of
Kirklareli. Lush mountainous landscape dotted with quaint
houses transport you to an idyllic and tranquil frame of
mind. The city of Kirklareli's oldest mosque, the Hizirbey
Mosque, was built in 1383. The mosque complex includes a
bazaar. Nearby stands a hamam also built under Hizir Bey's
patronage. The l4th century Kirklar Memorial with its impressive
18 columns stands on Kirklar Hill honoring the site where
40 soldiers lost their lives when the Ottomans conquered
this area neighboring town of Babaeski also boasts a Sinan
building in the Cedi Ali Pasa Mosque.
Vize (Byzia), an important Byzantine center, houses the
Küçük Ayasofya church and a castle, both
dating from the Byzantine period. under the command of Murat
I. The Archaeological Museum exhibits finds from local excavations.
Kirklareli's Black Sea Coast is another place to enjoy
beaches and good fish restaurants. Igneada, 98 km east of
Kirklareli, lies squeezed between its sandy shores and the
Yildiz Mountains. Kiyiköy (Midye) is another holiday
resort town with good accommodations and picturesque dwellings
from the Middle Ages; the town and its land walls date from
the Byzantine period.
The Sokollu Mosque in Lüleburgaz, on the Edirne-İstanbul
road, is an exquisite work of Sinan's that dates from 1570.
The If you are travelling north to Bulgaria, linger for
a few hours in the peaceful and green town of Dereköy,
the last stop before the border.