European Turkey: Edirne and Uzunköprü

For years I’ve wanted to go to Edirne to see Mimar Sinan’s crowning achievement, the pinnacle of Ottoman architecture — Selimiye Camii. Ferda and I were already in İstanbul, and it looks so close on the map. However, with inconvenient bus stations in both in İstanbul and Edirne, it took us most of the day to travel between these two cities. (It didn’t help that we got a late start, hadn’t bought a ticket ahead of time, and the first two departures were full.)

IMG_20231009_175814 by bryandkeith on flickr

Additionally, oops! Yes, that’s Selimiye Mosque, one of Turkey’s few UNESCO sites, closed for a four-year restoration project. I’m sure I could have figured that out ahead of time with a little research.

There’s a small section inside that is still open to visitors, but you can’t see the courtyard or the huge domed prayer hall, both supposedly impressive. Approximately 1000 years after Hagia Sophia, the Ottomans finally made a higher dome!

Here’s what visitors can see during the restoration:

IMG_20231009_180431 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231009_180418 by bryandkeith on flickr

Come back in about two years, I guess.

Luckily there’s a bit more to see in Edirne. Most impressive is the II. Beyazid Külliyesi where you can learn a lot about Ottoman medical techniques and history.

IMG_20231010_101846 by bryandkeith on flickr

I’m not so into medical history, but there’s also an interesting (to me) exhibit in the kitchen (imaret, a word meaning the place and distribution of food) about Ottoman soup kitchens (I guess we’d say in English). The Ottomans, according to this, had an extensive food distribution system for the poor.

Ferda and I enjoyed walking around this complex.

IMG_20231010_113525 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231010_102307 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231010_115242 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231010_102108_10 by bryandkeith on flickr

Back in the city center I think Eski Cami with its huge square pillars was built before the Ottomans took İstanbul.

IMG_20231009_184628 by bryandkeith on flickr

Across the street is Üç Şerefeli Camii, similar in style.

IMG_20231010_124039 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231010_122839 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231010_121835 by bryandkeith on flickr

Culinary-wise Edirne is famous within Turkey for its liver. Meals are accompanied by roasted red peppers, green peppers, and a hot sauce — all tasty and unusual in Turkey.

IMG_20231009_170207 by bryandkeith on flickr

Back to the Ottoman architecture theme here’s the courtyard of a bedesten:

IMG_20231009_175353 by bryandkeith on flickr

A fire destroyed many of Edirne’s synagogues which were replaced with one large one, recently restored.

IMG_20231010_151110 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231010_151259 by bryandkeith on flickr

Most of the artifacts in Edirne’s small archaeology museum come from Enez (aka Ainos), a place that’s been on my list for its Byzantine Church.

Roman gravestone (1st century BCE) from Enez (Ainos) by bryandkeith on flickr

Uzunköprü is only about an hour south of Edirne by bus, but even for such a short trip the services run via inconvenient out-of-town bus stations. Hello, Turkey, shouldn’t we be encouraging people to take the bus?

At 1239m Uzunköprü claims to have the world’s longest historic stone bridge. Doesn’t Mérida make the same claim? Hmmm, no, now I see that Mérida’s bridge is from ancient times. Uzunköprü is 15th century Ottoman.

Here’s a photo of a drone photo since it’s hard to take photos of 1.2km long linear features.

IMG_20231011_074458 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231011_074646 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231011_074117 by bryandkeith on flickr

Certainly there’s more to see in European Turkey, but the buses took us west, into Greek Macedonia.

IMG_20231011_155830 by bryandkeith on flickr
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One Response to European Turkey: Edirne and Uzunköprü

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Interesting, too, as always..

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