MARMARA REGION


ISTANBUL

Istanbul embraces two continents with one arm reaching out to Asia and the other to Europe. Through the city's heart, the Bosphorus, course the waters of the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn.

The former capital of three successive emprise, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, Istanbul today honours and preserves the legacy of its past while looking forward to a modern future. It is Istanbul's endless variety that fascinates its visitors. the museums, churches, palaces, grand mosques, bazaars and sights of natural beauty seem innumerable. Reclining on the western shore of the Bosphorus at sunset contemplating the red evening light reflected in the windows of the opposite shore you may suddenly and profoundly understand why so many centuries ago settlers chose to build on this remarkable site. At such times you can see why Istanbul is truly one of the most glorious cities in the world.

PALACES

On a finger of land at the confluence of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara Stands the Topkapi Palace, that maze of buildings that was the focal point of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries. In these opulent surroundings the sultans and their court lived and governed. A magnificent wooded garden fills the outer, or first, court. In the second court, on the right, shaded by cypress and plane trees, stand the palace kitchens, which now serve as galleries exhibiting the imperial collections of crystal, silver and Chinese porcelain. To the left is the Harem, the secluded quarters of the wives, concubines, and children of the sultan, charming visitors with echoes of centuries of 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 centre of this innermost sanctuary, the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle enshrines the relics of the Prophet Muhammed brought to Istanbul when the Ottomans assumed the caliphate of Islam. (Open every day except Tuesday).

The facade of the Dolmabahce Palace, built in the mid-19th century by Sultan Abdulmecit I, stretches for 600 meters along the European shore of the Bosphorus. The vast reception salon, with its 56 columns and four-and-a-half ton crystal chandelier with 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. Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, died in the palace on November 10, 1938. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday).

In the 19th century, Sultan Abdulaziz built the Beylerbeyi Palace, a fantasy in white marble set amid magnolia-filled gardens, on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. Used as the Sultan's summer residence, it was offered to the most distinguished foreign dignitaries for their visits. Empress Eugenie of France was among its residents. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday). In addition to the State Pavilions at the Yildiz Palace complex, the compound includes a series of pavilions and a mosque. It was completed by Abdulhamit 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 Tuesday).

MOSQUES

Across from Hagia Sophia stands the supremely elegant Imperial Sultanahmet Mosque with six minarets. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, the building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior panelling of blue and white Iznik tiles. During the summer months an evening light and sound show both entertain and inform visitors.

The cascading domes and four slender minarets of the Imperial Suleymaniye Mosque dominate the skyline on the Golden Horn's west bank. Considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in ‹stanbul, it was built between 1550 and 1557 by Sinan, the renowned architect of the Ottoman Empire's golden age. Erected on the crest of a hill, the building is conspicuous for its great size, emphasized by the four minarets that rise from each corner of the courtyard. Inside are the mihrab (prayer niche showing the direction to Mecca) and the mimber (pulpit) made of finely carved white marble and exquisite stained-glass windows colouring the incoming streams of light. It was in the gardens of this complex that Suleyman and his wife, Hurrem Sultan (Roxelane), had their mausolea built, and near here also Sinan Built his own tomb. The mosque complex also includes four medreses, or theological schools, a school of medicine, a caravanserai, a Turkish bath, and a kitchen and hospice for the poor.

The Imperial Fatih Mosque, constructed between 1463 and 1470, bears the name of the Ottoman conqueror of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and is the site of his mausoleum. Standing atop another of Istanbul'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 Eyup lies outside the city walls, near the Golden Horn, at the traditional site where Eyup, the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed, died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in A.D. 670. 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 looms over the harbour at Eminonu, greeting the incoming ferryboats and welcoming tourist to the old city. Today its graceful domes and arches shelter hundreds of pigeons who make this area their home. Marvellous Iznik tiles decorate what was once the sultan's balcony.

MUSEUMS

The Basilica of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), 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 above the ground and its diameter spans 31 meters. Linger here to admire the building's majestic serenity as well as the fine Byzantine mosaics. (Open every day except Monday).

The Archaeological Museums are found just inside the first court of the Topkapi Palace. Included among its treasures of antiquity are the celebrated Alexander Sarcophagus and the facade of the Temple to Athena from Assos. The Museum of the Ancient Orient displays artifacts from the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hatti and Hittite civilizations. (Open every day except Monday).

Rumeli Hisari, or European Fortress, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior to his capture of Istanbul. Completed in only four months, it is one of the most beautiful works of military architecture in the world. In the castle is the Open-Air Museum amphitheatre that is the site for some events of the Istanbul Music Festival. (Open every day except Wednesdays).

The dark stone building that houses the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art was built in 1524 by the Grand Vizier to Suleyman the Magnificent, Ibrahim Pasa, as his residence. It was the grandest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire. Today it holds 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 street from the Ibrahim Pasa residence 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 Hagia Sophia is the sixth-century Byzantine cistern 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 fifth and sixth-century mosaic pavements from the Grand Palace of the Byzantine emperors. (Open every day except Tuesday.)

The Kariye Museum, the 11th-century church of "St.Savior" in the Chora complex, is, after Hagia Sophia, the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul. Unremarkable in its architecture, inside, the walls are decorated with superb 14th-century mosaics. Illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary, these brilliantly coloured paintings embody the vigor of Byzantine art. In restored wooden houses in the area surrounding the church you can enjoy tea and coffee in a relaxed atmosphere far removed from the city's hectic pace. (Open every day except Wednesday).

In the Military Museum the great field tents used by the Ottoman armies on campaigns are on display. Other exhibits include Ottoman weapons and the accoutrements of war. The Mehter Takimi (Ottoman military band) can be heard performing Ottoman martial music between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. (Open every day except Monday and Tuesday).

Up the Bosphorus in the picturesque suburb of Buyukdere, the collections of the Sadberk Hanim Museum fill two charming 19 th-century wooden villas. A private museum which originally displayed only Turkish decorative arts, in has recently been expanded for a new collection of archaeological finds. (Open ever day except Wednesday).

HISTORICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS

The ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and the centre of Byzantine civic life, stood in the area that is now in front of the Blue Mosque. The area is now named for the mosque, 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 of the hippodrome wall can be seen on the southwest side of these three monuments. Today the square forms the centre of Istanbul's historical, cultural and touristy pursuits. Take particular note of the surrounding wooden houses, especially the 18th century homes on Sogukcesme Street. Delightfully restored, they have a new lease on life as small hotels; one houses a fascinating library of books on Istanbul.

The Ahmet III Fountain, built in 1729, stands at the entrance to Topkapi Palace. A generous roof shades the water spouts where the thirsty can 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 is included in the grounds of Istanbul University.

The Bozdogan-Valens Aqueduct, built in A.D. 368, 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 Istanbul city walls, once an impenetrable fortification, stretch seven kilometres from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn. Recently restored, as also many times before, these walls date from the fifty century and the reign of Emperor Theodosius II. UNESCO has declared the 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 above Golden Horn. From the top there is a marvellous panorama of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. In the evening you can enjoy its popular restaurant, nightclub and bar.

Rumeli Hisari, or European Fortress, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior to his capture of Istanbul. Completed in only four months, it is one of the most beautiful works of military architecture in the world. In the castle is the Open-Air Museum amphitheatre that is the site for some events of the Istanbul Music Festival. (Open every day except Wednesdays).

Kiz Kulesi, also known as Leander's Tower, is one of the most romantic symbols of Istanbul. On a tiny island at the entrance to Istanbul's harbour, the first tower was constructed in the 12th century. The present building dates from the 18th century.

ISTANBUL BOGAZI (THE BOSPHORUS)

A stay in Istanbul is not complete without a traditional and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus, that winding strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores offer a delightful mixture of past and present, grand splendour and simple beauty. Modern hotels stand next to yali (shorefront wooden villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses, and elegant compounds neighbour 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 at Eminonu and stop alternately on the Asian and European sides of the strait. The round-trip excursion, very reasonably priced, takes about six hours. If you wish a private voyage, there are agencies that specialize in organizing day or night mini cruises.

During the journey you pass the magnificent Dolmabahce Palace; further along rise the green parks and imperial pavilions of the Yildiz Palace. On the coastal edge of the parks stands the Ciragan Palace, refurbished in 1874 by Sultan Abdulaziz, and now restored as grand hotel. For 300 meters along the Bosphorus shore its ornate marble facades reflect the swiftly moving water. At Ortakoy, the next stop, artists gather every Sunday to exhibit their works in a street side gallery. The variety of people create a lively scene. Sample a tasty morsel from one of the street vendors. In Ortakoy, there is a church, a mosque and a synagogue that have existed side by side for hundreds of years - a tribute to Turkish tolerance at the grass roots level. overshadowing Istanbul's traditional architecture is one of the world's largest suspension bridges, the Bosphorus Bridge, linking Europe and Asia.

The beautiful Beylerbeyi Palace lies just past the bridge on the Asian side. Behind the palace rises Camlica Hill, the highest point in Istanbul. You can also drive here to admire a magnificent panorama of Istanbul as well as the beautiful landscaped gardens. On the opposite shore, the wooden Ottoman villas of Arnavutkoy create a contrast with the luxurious modern apartments of neighbouring Bebek. A few kilometres farther along stand the fortresses of Rumeli Hisari and Anadolu Hisari facing each other across the straits like sentries guarding the city. The Goksu Palace, sometimes known as Kucuksu Palace graces the Asian shore next to the Anadolu Hisari. The second link between the two continents, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge straddles the waterway just past these two fortresses.

HALIC (THE GOLDEN HORN)

This horn shaped estuary divides European Istanbul. One of the best natural harbours 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 cast a golden hue on the water. At Fener and Balat, neighbourhoods midway up the golden Horn, whole streets full of old wooden houses, churches, and synagogues date from Byzantine and Ottoman times. The Orthodox Patriarchy resides here at Fener. Eyup, a little further up, reflects Ottoman architecture. Cemeteries dotted with dark cypress trees cover the hillsides. Many pilgrims come to the Tomb of Eyup in the hope that their prayers will be granted. The Pierre Loti Cafe, on top of the hill overlooking the shrine is a wonderful place to enjoy the tranquillity of the view.

THE ENVIRONS OF ISTANBUL

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, wealthy Istanbulites escape to the cool sea breezes and elegant 19th century houses. Buyukada 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.

THE MARMARA REGION

A fast highway connects Istanbul with Izmit, the capital of Kocaeli province. An important city in Roman times known as Nicomedeia, it is now a prosperous industrial centre. The restored Saatci Efendi Konak, a typical 18th-century Ottoman mansion, now serves as the Ethnography Museum. Pismaniye, the local sweet, consists of thousands of thin layers of drawn sugar.

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 played an important role in the founding of the Ottoman Empire.Every September a commemorative ceremony and cultural festival are held here in his honour. The Orhan Gazi Mosque is near his tomb.

Set amid the numerous willows which give Sogut its name, the town is well worth a detour. The migrating Kayi Turks first settled here, and the tomb of their leader Ertugrul Gazi is in the town. In September, a commemorative ceremony is held in his honour. Other tourist attractions include the life-size buts of famous figures from Turkish history and the Ethnography Museum which traces the history of Turkey through its displays.

In ancient times Yalova was known as Helenapolis in memory of Emperor Constantine's mother Helena who designed the entire city. Today Yalova is an important port city, famous for its thermal baths. Termal, in the south-western part of the city is the centre of the thermal district and the best place in Turkey to enjoy the curative thermal bath waters. In Termal, there's a wonderful panoramic view of the entire Termal district centre from the top of a hill overlooking the city. The Ataturk Mansion, located in Yalova, is now a museum 5 open to the public weekdays except Monday and Thursday). Built in 1929, Ataturk's former summer residence displays original furnishings from the early 20th century. For more natural beauty take in Karaca Arboretum, open Sunday afternoons until 6 p.m.

Seventeen kilometres west of Yalova, the relaxing resort area of Cinarcik has lovely beaches and modern holiday complexes. Formerly known as Nicaea, Iznik lies at the eastern tip of Lake Iznik, to the south of Izmit. The city was founded in 316 BC by Antigonas, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, and then taken by another general, Lysimachus, who named the city "Nicaea" for his wife. Later the city fell to the Bithynian Kingdom and was bequeathed to Rome in 128 BC. After playing its role as an important Roman, and then later Byzantine city, it feel to the Seljuks in 1078 and passed on to the Ottomans in 1331. The Roman theatre was built by Trojan (249-251). On the shore of Lake Iznik stands the Roman Senate, where the first Council of Nicea took place in 325. In the centre of the town is the Church of St. Sophia, used by other councils. One of the more important council was in 745 over iconoclasm, the role of icons in worship. The "Baptisterium" has a cupola over the baptisers. The Ottomans converted this church into the Orhan Mosque. Another church is the 6th-century "Komesis" Church built for the ascension of the virgin. Iznik stands along with Jerusalem, Ephesus and the Vatican in importance in the Christian world. It is still a small town which does not seem to have exceeded its original 4227 meters of Roman walls with their 114 towers. The four gates which allowed access to the city still stand. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Iznik was the centre of exquisite ceramic ware production which made an important decorative contribution to mosques and places throughout Turkey. A museum displays the finds of nearby excavations Among the important Islamic buildings in town, be sure to visit the turquoise tiled Yesil Mosque and the Nilufer Hatun Imarathanesi. After exploring the sights, the lakeside fish restaurants provide delicious food and a relaxing atmosphere. Five kilometres from Iznik in the Elbeyli village there is a 5th century catacomb and an obelisk 15.5 m high built by Cassius Philiscus.

Thirty-six kilometres from Bursa is Uludag, the largest centre for winter sports in Turkey and offers a variety of activities, accommodation and entertainment. The slopes are easily reached by car or cable car (teleferik). December to May is the best time for skiing, although the area, Uludag National Park, is well worth a visit at any time of the year for the lovely views and wonderful fresh air.

The province of Balikesir borders both the Marmara and Aegean regions. In the capital of Balikesir, Interesting historical sites harmoniously blend with nature. The mid 14th century Yildirim Mosque, Built by Beyazit I, is the city's oldest mosque. The Zagnos Pasa Mosque, built in 1461 by and named for the Grand Vizier of Mehmet the Conqueror, Zagnos Pasa, was once part of a great complex. Today only the mosque and bath remain. The Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower) built in 1827 by Mehmet Pasa is a smaller version of the Genoese Galata Tower. The Karesi Bey Mausoleum of 1336 contains the cenotaphs of Karesi Bey and his five sons. Also take in artifacts from the area displayed in the newly completed Balikesir Museum (Kuva-i Milliye).

Ayvalik, Burhaniye, Oren, Edremit, Akcay 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 city of Canakkale lies at the narrow, 1,200 meter entrance to the Canakkale Strait (the Dardanelles) that connects the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean. Passenger and car ferries run daily between Canakkale on the Asian side and Eceabat and Kilitbahir on the European side. Yachts navigating the strairs stop at the well equipped Canakkale Marina to allow tourists more time in the area. Hotels, restaurants and cafes along the promenade, offer a place to enjoy the traffic in the harbour, as well as a view of the Kilitbahir Fortress and the Canakkale Archaeological Museum.

In 1451, Sultan Mehmet II, later the conqueror of Istanbul, built one fortress on the European side of the Canakkale Strait at Kilitbahir and one on the opposite shore at Cimenlik to control the passage of ships through the strait. Today the Cimenlik fortress serves as a military museum dedicated to the World War I Battle of Canakkale.

Gelibolu Peninsula Historical National Park was established to honour the 500,000 soldiers who gave their lives on Gelibolu, also knows as Gallipoli. In 1915, Mustafa Kemal, commander of the Turkish army, led a successful campaign to drive out allied powers from the area. The park includes memorials, monuments, cemeteries, the natural beauty of the Ariburnu Cliffs and Tuz Golu (Salt Lake). The beauty of the green hills, sandy beaches and blue waters provides an honourable 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 patriotic spirit of the place.

The largest of the Turkish islands, Gokceada is ringed with the greens of pine and olive trees, are dotted with sacred springs and monasteries. Regularly scheduled ferry boat make the trip from Canakkale and Kabatepe. In August, islanders and tourists gather for colourful local fairs.

Homer immortalized Truva (Troy) in his stories of King Priam, Hector, Paris and the beautiful Helen. Archaeological excavations have revealed nine separate periods of settlement including ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theatre. A symbolic wooden Trojan horse commemorates the legendary war. The ancient harbour of Alexandria-Troas was built in the 3rd century B.C. St. Paul passed through twice, and then on his third missionary journey, he continued on to Assos.

The acropolis of Assos (Behramkale) is 238 meters above sea level. 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 Gulf of Edremit. Linger to see the moonlight scattered through the temple ruins, or rise early for the gently awakening dawn over the acropolis. From the top you can take in the magnificent vista of the Gulf of Edremit and 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 a fortress, all built in the 14th century by the Ottoman Sultan Murat I. Down below lies a tiny and idyllic ancient harbour. Assos has gained the reputation of being the centre of the Turkish art community with its lively, friendly and Bohemian atmosphere. This may be the holiday you will remember for years to come. In the village of Gulpinar, 25 km west of Behramkale, is the ancient city of Chryse where the 2nd century B.C. temple of Apollon Smintheus is located. Babakale, a scenic village of houses terraced on a cliff which drops to the sea is 15 km west of Gulpinar on an unmarked road that follows the jagged coastline.

Kaz Dagi (Mt. Ida, 1,774 meters) is situated at the southern tip of Canakkale in the beautiful Kaz Dagi National Park and its magnificent landscapes, restful green areas and several hot springs. The main day camping facilities are at the northern entrance to the park, via Bayramic and Evciler. In Bayramic, 60 km from Canakkale is the beautiful 18th century Hadimogullari Mansion (Ottoman House) with its ethnography museum.

On the opposite, northern shore of the Sea of Marmara, is the important commercial harbour of Tekirdag. From both sides of this modern city and its 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 Rustem Pasa Mosque, designed by Sinan and built in 1554 by the Grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent. 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) lived out the last years of his life after fighting for his people's liberation. The Namik Kemal Memorial (1840-1888) honours the birth place of the Turkish National Poet. Sixty kilometres west of Tekirdag, is the holiday centre of Sarkoy and Murefte in a region renowned for wine tasting. Beautiful vineyards cover the entire area, and the city hosts a wine festival every year.

North of Tekirdag on the border between Greece and Turkey, Edirne (Adrianople) was for some years the Ottoman 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 gracefully historic city welcomes visitors as they make their way to Istanbul and other points east. The people of Edirne trace their origins back 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. In 1361, Sultan Murat I added it to his empire. The city's role 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.

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 attests to the technological abilities of the day and the genius of the master Ottoman architect.

The Eski Mosque is the oldest Ottoman structure in Edirne, built between 1403 and 1414 by Mehmet I. 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 Uc Serefeli Mosque, built between 1438 and 1447 by Murat I, presage the great period of mosque architecture under Sinan and embodies a new freedom from restraint as well as advances in engineering. The northwest minaret has three galleries, giving the mosque its name. It was the highest minaret until those of the Selimiye Mosque in Istanbul eclipsed it.

Towards the end of the 15th century, Beyazid II commissioned the architect Hayrettin to build him a complex in Edirne to include a mosque, Darussifa (hospital), medrese, kitchen and store rooms. The mosque is square and is covered with a high dome. Over 100 domes cover the remainder of the complex. The most important of the other buildings is the Darussifa which stood out in its time as a modern hospital with a unique and humane architectural design.

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.

Sinan built several of the famous baths in Edirne including the Sokullu, Tahtakale, Mezit Bey, Beylerbeyi and Gazi Mihal hamams. His work is also seen in the Ahmet Pasa Caravanserai and the Rustem Pasa Caravanserai of 1561. The latter 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 will notice many lovely Ottoman bridges gracing the Tunca and Meric Rivers.

Edirne has retained many of its colourful traditions and customs. Every summer, where the Tunca river divides, an emerald green meadow, called the Sarayici, is the site of the Kirkpinar Greased Wrestling Contests. Shiny, slippery bodies grapple with each other to determine who will emerge as champion.

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, along with an imperial tent used on military campaigns are on display.

On the way to the Saroz Gulf in the Aegean Sea, you can stop at Uzunkopru to see an interesting bridge built by Murat II in 1444 spanning the Ergene River. Its 174 arches, the highest of which is 12.28 meters, make up its 1.354 meter length.

Enez (Ainos) was an important port in ancient times but today it lies 3.5 km inland. Its origins can be traced to the 12th century B.C. It was an important settlement during the Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. It was first built by the Kyme people and was known as a colony of the western Anatolian civilization. Currently, it remains an open air museum. 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, some carved tombs and a beach with clear water. The people here are quite hospitable, making Enez an interesting stopover.