A WEEKEND AT EDIRNE

November 01, 2010 Writer Name: Moguib Rouchdy
The fine border town of Edirne greets visitors with interesting mosques, a bazaar, bridges, historical houses and the magnificent Selimiye Mosque.
During the course of history, Edrine has earned special titles such as “Der-I Saadet” meaning “Happiness Gate”. This period of happiness and celebration lasted from the reigns of Sultan Murat II to Mehmet IV when there were enough victory, celebrations and marriages including the marriage of Murat II.
Of course Edirne’s memories are not all happy; according to traveler “Evliya Celebi” this front line city is a wall of Islam. Consequently, it suffered during times of conquest and military occupation.
Edirne has always been a center of cultural development. New architectural design lines and decorations were brought to life there. Muslim theological schools engaged in deep discussions and early developments in medical science were practiced.
This city, which deeply feels its cultural heritage, derives its identity and significance from its position as the second capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Edirne was founded in the 5th century BC by Odrysians from Thrace. The city had various names until the time of Murat I who conquered it in 1361 renamed it Edirne and made it the second capital of the Ottoman Empire after Bursa, and it remained the capital until Istanbul was captured by Mehmet II in 1453.
You can go to Edirne from Istanbul in around two and half hours by car, bus or train, and you can spend a nice weekend at Edirne to see its attractions, enjoy delicious food and buy memorable gifts. Traveling to Edirne can be in summer to watch the famous wrestling festival [K?rkp?nar] or in winter to see the snow and enjoy the city’s historical places.

Weather
Edirne is situated in Thrace in Turkey’s Marmara Region. It covers 6,276 square kilometers. The topography consists of plains and rolling hills with an average elevation of 41 meters above sea level. Winter weather is sometimes influenced by the sea, resulting in a wild climate with rain. Other times the land exercises the dominant influence bringing colder weather and snow. Summers are hot and dry, while spring and fall are rainy.
Wrestling Festival
The "K?rkp?nar" Grease (also a type of olive oil) wrestling matches are held each year during the last week of June or the first week of July in the green grassy area of "Sarayiçe" watered by the Tunca River. The cultural festivities, which preserve the old traditions, last a week and includes various folk dances, fairs, exhibits, beauty contests and regional cooking contests. The last three days of the festival are dedicated to the grease wrestling competitions.
There are numerous legends about how K?rkp?nar Grease Wrestling originated. However, the most famous one states that during a campaign by Orhan Gazi to capture Rumelia, his brother Süleyman Pa?a went to "Domuzhisan" with 40 warriors. They crossed by raft and captured "Domuzhisan" and other forts in the area. On their way back, they camped in "Samona" in modern Greece and began to wrestle; two of them wrestled for hours but neither managed to win. Later, during the spring festival day of May, the pair began another match from early morning till the middle of the night when they both died of exhaustion. Their friends buried them under a big tree and left. When they visited the burial site years later, they found several springs of clean flowing water where the graves should have been, so they named the meadow "K?rkp?nar" (Forty Springs).
Places to Visit
Edirne has a rich historical heritage due to its location between Europe and Asian Anatolia; architectural treasures include the walls and towers from Edirne Castle built by Roman Emperor Hadrianus and the famous Selimiye mosque from the Ottoman period.

Selimiye Mosque:
This architectural wonder of the world is a superb example of Ottoman and Turkish art, having been designed by the prolific architect Mimar Sinan as his masterpiece at the age of 80. It was built by order of Selim II between 1569-1575 and has become the symbol of Edirne and the Ottoman Empire. Its four minarets can be seen from a great distance and the mosque is decorated with stone, marble, wood and mother of pearl.
"Eski" Old mosque:                  
This mosque is the oldest Ottoman monument in Edirne. Construction began by Emir Süleyman in 1403 and was completed during the region of Celebi Sultan Mehmet in 1414. It was designed by architect Haç? Alaadin from Konya and built by ?mer Ibn Ibrahim.
"Uç ?erefeli" Mosque:     
The name means the mosque with the three balconies. It refers to the monumental 67.62 meter – high minaret. It is interesting to note that the stairways to each balcony are separate. The minaret seems to move because of the red Zigzag stones surrounding the diamond-shaped white stones. The mosque was built in 1438-1447 by order of Murat II in an original style combining early and classical Ottoman styles.
Bayezid II Complex:
This mosque complex on the shore of the Tunca River is another of Edirne’s most important historical buildings. The complex covers a large area and includes a mosque, medical school, public soup kitchen, an asylum and a Turkish bath. It has a striking appearance with almost 100 small and large domes. The most interesting building is the monumental mosque with two minarets and a central dome.

Shopping Attractions
Shopping through three old Bazaars- Ali Pa?a covered Bazaar, Silimiye shopping center and Bedesten covered market, is a pleasant experience. There are also modern shopping centers like Kapa, where you can find clothes and leather products.
Handicrafts in Edirne – developed extensively during the period when it was the capital of the Ottoman Empire- make excellent gifts. Visitors to Edirne should also not miss the famous and delicious white cheese – Deva- and almond paste.

Restaurants
Edirne has eight bridges and two big Rivers, the most famous is Meriç and Tunca where you can enjoy lunch and dinner in one of the several restaurants on the banks of the Rivers and where you can also taste many delicious Turkish dishes … like Lalezar restaurant and Tunca cafe where they serve meat and fish.
You should try Osmanl? food specially fried liver at Edirne Selimiye Osmanl? Sofras?.
Where to stay
If you like historical places, you can try "Rü?tempa?a Caravansary", an example of classical Ottoman architecture built by the architect Sinan. An average room costs 50 to 70 Euros a night per person on B&B basis. And if you like modern hotels with a different view you should try Hotel ?im?ek (3 stars) where you enjoy a lovely stay watching the fields of Edirne in comfortable rooms for 60 Euros per day per person.
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