Edirne Turkey


Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex UNESCO World Heritage (2011)
Oil Wrestling UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2010)

Edirne, (also known as Adrianople or Edrene in history) is a city in the northwest territory, in the area of East Thrace, to Turkey's nearest neighbors Greece and Bulgaria at the borders. It is a gateway of Turkey opening to the western world, the first stopover for newcomers from Europe. Situated on the Greek border, this beautiful city is famed for its many mosques, the elegant domes, and minarets which dominate the panoramic appearance of the province. One of the most important monuments in this ancient province is the Selimiye Mosque, built in the 16th century by the Turkey's greatest architect, Mimar Sinan. Carrying the name of the then reigning the Sultan, this mosque magnificently represents Turkish marble handicrafts and it is covered with valuable tiles and fine paintings.

It was the capital of the empire after Bursa before Istanbul was made the final capital. The city had a notable hospital built as part of Sultan Beyazid II Kulliyesi (social and religious institutions around) where methods of therapy included music, the sound of water and scents. It was opened in the 15th century and was in use for four centuries.

The Yildirim Mosque and the Eski Mosque, dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries respectively, are other spectacular sights while the Muradiye Mosque and the Uc Serefeli Mosque are also among the oldest and most impressive buildings. Last to be mentioned is the Beyazit II Mosque, a great monument with its complex construction comprising many facilities used in those times.

Besides the fascinating mosques, there are different sites to be visited in the area, all reflecting its rich past. There are attractive palaces, the most prominent one being the Edirne Palace, which was the "Palace of the Empire" built during the reign of Murat II. There are the amazing caravansaries, like the Rustem Pasha and Ekmekcioglu Ahmet Pasa caravansaries, which were designed to host travelers, in the 16th century. The lively bazaars of "Bedesten" and "Arasta" make the province colorful bring back ancient times.

Several bridges exist which have stood for centuries, adorning the land with their old but fine appearances. Ipsala is a district center of Edirne province and it is Turkey's second important border gate, on the European frontier. It is a wildfowl paradise enjoyed by both Turkish and foreign sportsmen.

Additionally, it is an important center of famous Oil Wrestling (Grease-wrestling is the national sport of Turkey) which has its roots in Sumerian and Babylonian Ages that we later see as the gladiator fights. Oil wrestling symbolizes courage and strength as well as generosity and honesty in the social dimension. Lively championships of this oil wrestling festival are held in Edirne on Kirkpinar Island sitting in a forested area between the Meric and Tunca rivers, in late June-early July annually, has been included in the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. These traditional occasions comprise many entertaining activities, and the province is filled with spectators.

The ongoing structural and aesthetic problems in Hagia Sophia and the other centrally domed buildings had been solved gracefully in artworks of Architect Sinan in the 16th century. Selimiye Mosque which he called “My Masterpiece” crowns the city as a divine ornament displaying the achievements in classical Ottoman Architecture and the glorious result of human intellect. Selimiye was the outcome of his long, painstaking studies of the earlier structures both from the previous civilizations and his constructions and efforts to integrate aesthetic perfection into an edifice.

The Mosque of Selimiye is the symbol of the area. Sinan the architect built this place of worship which he defined as his masterwork succeeding the mosques of Sehzade and Suleymaniye in Istanbul, for Selim the II, between the years 1569-1575. Selimiye is encircled by its four minarets in a well-shaped manner and has a magnificent appearance when it is observed from far off. The dome which has a diameter of 31,30 m is supported by 8 pillars and flying buttresses placed at the back. The mosque is ornamented with many windows and therefore the inside is very luminous. The encaustic tiles decorating the niche, are beautiful examples of the Ottoman art of tile-making. The pulpit of the muezzin is at the center of the mosque and supported by 12 marble columns, and there is a marble pond under it. The inside of the dome which is 43,28 m high, is ornamented with engravings. The four minarets which are 70,89 m high, surround the mosque gracefully. Owing to the fact that it was an ancient Ottoman capital city, there are a great number of historical works of art in it.

The locality where the traditional wrestling activities of Kirkpinar are organized, is the place where the ancient Palace of Edirne was situated. The covered bazaar of Ali Pasa built by Sinan the Architect in 1569, the ancient Mosque dated 1414 which Celebi Sultan Mehmet had ordered to be constructed and the market of antiques adjacent to it and dated 1417, the Market which Murat the III had ordered to be constructed. The Building Complex of Beyazit which Bayed the II had ordered to be constructed in 1488, the Mosque with three minaret-galleries dated 1443, the Caravansary of Rustempasa are some of these historical works of art.