Hills of all sizes with vineyards and sunflower fields as far as the eye can see. This is the region of Turkey known as Trakya. It is separated from the rest of Turkey by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardenelle Straits. The first thing a visitor coming from Europe into Edirne would see is the Selimiye mosque, a masterpiece of the architect Sinan. It seems as though this city boasts proudly of hosting the structures most characteristic of Ottoman architecture.
The cities found in this region are Balikesir, Bilecik, Bursa, Çanakkale, Edirne, Istanbul, Kirklareli, Kocaeli, Sakarya,Tekirdag and Yalova.
The region of Marmara has a turbulent past. 481 years before the birth of Jesus, during the II Persian War, the Persian King Xerxes made a bridge of boats over the Dardanelle Straits between Abydos and Sestos. In the same place we have the renowned love affair of Leander and Hera, who were buried in the waters of the strait. And, it was here that Mustafa Kemal won the first big victory against enemy forces in World War I.
The lively city of Izmit with its fruit orchards and vegetable gardens is now an industrial center. Nearby is Hereke famous for its carpets.
The city of Gebze, on the north of the Marmara Sea, has a very rich historical past and the city of Iznik, renowned during Ottoman times for its glazed tiles, is worth paying a visit.
The land of silk, Bursa was the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire. In this city, which has come to be identified with lush green, places worth visiting are as follows: The Green Mosque (Yesil Cami), The Green Tomb (Yesil Turbe) and its splendid gardens, The Magnificent Mosque (Ulu Cami), Emir Sultan and Yildirim Mosques and the Ethnographic Museum.
The country’s first ski resort was built on Uludag Mountain, which soars into the air just south of the city.
Tekirdag, which has beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture and broad beaches, is known for its vineyards and wine festivals.
Balikesir is the center of a broad and important region. To the north is Gonen with its famous thermal springs and the commercial port of Bandirma. After Istanbul, this port is the biggest in the Marmara Sea. On the shores of Lake Manyas near Bandirma is the Bird Heaven (Kuscenneti) National Park.
One the shores of the Marmara Sea are a whole host of beautiful beaches and holiday resorts. Among them are Cinarcik, Armutlu, Gemlik, Mudanya, Erdek, the Marmara and Avsa Islands, Denizkent, Sarköy, Silivri and lastly Yalova, a site famous for its thermal springs.
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. Cosntruction of New Palace (Topkapý Palace) is started after 1466, and completed on 1478, a couple of years before the death of Fatih.
Side of Dolmabahce Palace, built by Sultan Ist Abdulmecit during 19th century is lying for 600 m at European coast of the Bosporus. Dolmabahçe Palace, is constructed between 1843 and 1856 as a mixture of European art methods. It is one of the pieces of art of Sultan Abdulmecit’s architect, Karabet Balya.
The church of the Divine Wisdom, undoubtedly one of the greatest architectural creations in the world. Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian circa AD 535, it was transformed into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453. Now a museum, it is awesome in size and contains beautifully preserved Byzantine mosaics.
YEREBATAN SARNICI (UNDERGROUND CISTERN)
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.
A legendary Byzantine church decorated with extraordinary late 14th century frescoes and mosaics portraying the life and miracles of Christ. The most important and extensive series of Byzantine paintings in the city and among the most significant in the world.
Sinan’s masterpiece. The massive scale of this mosque is best appreciated from a distance. It is the biggest mosque in Istanbul. This, the grandest of all Turkish mosques, was built between 1550 and 1557 by the greatest, richest and most powerful of Ottoman Sultans, Süleyman I. the Magnificient. Inside, the mosque is breathtaking in its size and pleasing in its simplicity.
THE BLUE MOSQUE
This mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet I during 1609-1616 in the square carrying his name in Ýstanbul. The architect is Sedefhar Mehmet Aða. It is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. The mosque is 64 x 72 m in dimensions. The central dome is 43 m in height and is 33.4 m in diameter. 260 windows surround the mosque. Due to its beautiful blue, green and
white tilings it has been named the “Blue Mosque” by Europeans.
The ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and the center 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.
A visit to the “Hamam” can be a wonderful experience; cleansing, refreshing, relaxing and sociable.
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 splendor and simple beauty. Modem hotels stand next to yali (shorefront wooden villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses, and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages.
Displays a selection of the 60,000 greco-roman and near eastern antiquities in the collection including a sarcophagus said to have contained the remains of Alexander the Great and a stone tablet carved with the treaty of Kadesh, the world’s first peace treaty.
THE MAIDEN’S TOWER
Kýz Kulesi (Virgin Tower), symbol of Istanbul, is a small cute tower established on a small island at the entrance of Bosphorus. The tower which is also used as watch tower, lighthouse within the course of history is now allotted for tourism.