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Edirne

A perfect getaway

Best Time to Visit
June-August

Population
412.115

Airports
Kesan Airport

Best Places to Stay
City center

When the tourist crowds of Istanbul disperse to other areas of the country, many are drawn by the popular attractions east or south of the city. And although very few think of going west, those that do find a beautiful Ottoman treasure. This is Edirne, a pleasant, historic city 235 km (146 miles) west of Istanbul near the Greek and Bulgarian borders.

It may not be as popular as the likes of Izmir, but it’s home to some of the finest Ottoman attractions in the country. These include the elegant Selimiye Mosque and other fine mosques like Eski, Muradiye, Ucserefeli, and Beyazit II. It also has a rich history that stretches for several millennia back in time to an age when war and conquest were the hallmarks of great empires.

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When the tourist crowds of Istanbul disperse to other areas of the country, many are drawn by the popular attractions east or south of the city. And although very few think of going west, those that do find a beautiful Ottoman treasure. This is Edirne, a pleasant, historic city 235 km (146 miles) west of Istanbul near the Greek and Bulgarian borders.

It may not be as popular as the likes of Izmir, but it’s home to some of the finest Ottoman attractions in the country. These include the elegant Selimiye Mosque and other fine mosques like Eski, Muradiye, Ucserefeli, and Beyazit II. It also has a rich history that stretches for several millennia back in time to an age when war and conquest were the hallmarks of great empires.

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Planning a trip to Edirne soon? Answer this trip planner and get your FREE quotation within 24 hours.

The History

Before Arrival

When to Go

What to Eat

Tips & Etiquette

Two rivers and three seas bound the territory of Thrace; the Danube and Nestos rivers and the Aegean, Marmara, and Black seas. What was once an unruly region dominated by warlike people is now a quiet and peaceful territory almost equally divided among Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria.

As for Edirne itself, the city is the historic capital of Thrace. It was known as Uscudama in the Thracian period and Oresteia in Hellenistic times. But the city reached its peak when it was made Hadrianopolis, the capital of Roman Thrace by Emperor Hadrian. It retained some of its importance throughout the Byzantine period until the Ottomans finally conquered it in 1361.

Hadrianapolis became Edirne and briefly served as the Ottoman Capital. And since it was an excellent spot for hunting and falconry, the city remained a popular retreat for the Sultans long after the capital was moved to Constantinople.

Edirne’s decline began in 1751 after an earthquake rocked the region. Since then, the city has survived the Russo-Turkish wars, Balkan War, Annexation by the Greeks, and a wave of Antisemitism that saw its thriving Jewish population flee to Istanbul.

Edirne sits 235 km west of Istanbul, around a three-hour drive from the Turkish capital. This means that it’s possible to visit the city as part of a long day trip from Istanbul. But if you want to get the most out of the Thracian capital, you’ll want to spend an entire day or two in its ancient embrace.

So, make sure that you book a guided tour of Edirne before making your journey. This ensures that you enjoy a well-crafted itinerary that takes you through the city’s best attractions and private transfer to and from world-class accommodation facilities.

Edirne has no tourist crowds. So, if you’re worried about overcrowding, you’ll be glad to know that it’s pretty much free all year round. And if you care about the weather, the city experiences hot, dry, and mostly clear summers and frigid and partly cloudy winters. The best time to visit the city is between late June and late August when the weather is moderate.

Fortunately, this time frame coincides nicely with Edirne’s popular oil-wrestling (The Kirkpinar) festival. So if you time your visit well, you’ll be able to witness the best wrestlers from around the country battle while drenched in olive oil.

Those who visit the city some six to seven weeks earlier can experience the ancient pan-Balkan spring festival (Hidirellez).

Edirne is home to hundreds of excellent restaurants serving delicious local cuisine. Some of these include Tatli Konagi, Oz Akgunler Edirne Cigercisi, Vargo Restaurant & Bar, Edirne Cigercisi Kemal Usta, Meshur Edirne Cigercisi Kazim ve Ikhan Usta, Edirneli Kofteci Osman, and many more.

Since you’ll be visiting several mosques, you must wear clothes covering your elbows and knees. Women will also be required to cover their hair during mosque visits.

Discover the best of Edirne

Edirne is not a huge city. However, you can explore all its top attractions on foot in one full day. As you wander across and along its streets, you’ll notice the rich Ottoman influence on the city’s architecture. This is one of the more underrated aspects of Edirne; it’s one of the best-preserved Ottoman cities in the country.

Fortunately, the streets aren’t all that crowded. So, you can always stand and admire a nicely constructed house here, a beautiful mosque there, or any structure that interests you along the way.

Speaking of exciting structures, some of the must-see places in the city include:

Selimiye Mosque

As any seasoned Turkey tourist would predict, the biggest attraction in an Ottoman city is always a mosque. And while Istanbul has the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, Edirne has Selimiye Mosque.

Selimiye Mosque was designed in 1569 by the famed Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. He may have been eighty years old, but his brilliance was still as bright as ever. He designed a mosque whose sheer beauty continues to shine over 500 years after the cornerstone was secured.

Selimiye Mosque was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011.

Design-wise, Selimiye Camii features a courtyard surrounded by a colonnaded portico. The portico arches are of alternating red and white stone, creating a beautiful design unlike any other in the city. There are also ancient columns and domes above the arcades and a delicately fashioned ablutions fountain.

The mosque has the second tallest minarets in the world. At 71 meters, the four identical minarets are the second in height to only those in Mecca and are an astonishing sight even from far out in the city. In addition, they feature three balconies that provide an incredible view of the city’s skyline.

But perhaps the most impressive of all is Selimiye’s 31.5m-diameter dome, which has been richly decorated with Arabic calligraphy proclaiming the greatness of the god.

Sultan Beyazit II Mosque Complex

The Sultan Beyazit II Mosque Complex doesn’t inspire as much awe as Selemiye Mosque. Still, it’s an incredible example of Islamic architecture worth an hour or two of exploration. The 14th-century complex (kulliye) contains an asylum, medical school, traveler’s hostel, and hospital.

The mosque’s hospital was transformed into a health museum dedicated to the history of medicine in 1997. The museum is the only one of its kind in the country and thus, is the most visited tourist attraction in Edirne. Its rooms offer an insightful sneak peek into the medical practices of the ancients.

Ali Pasha Bazaar

This bustling bazaar is another of Mimar Sinan’s gifts to the city. The market is beautifully decorated with red and white stone arches that blend incredibly well with the bazaar’s fruits, vegetables, and spices. And speaking of fruits, the market is home to meyve sabunu (fruit-shaped soap), which are unique to the city. However, beware that it’s easy to confuse these soaps with regular fruits.

Edirne Tours

Where to Go Next

After Edirne, you can visit Gallipoli, Pergamon, Tekirdag, Alacati, Canakkale, and Dardanelles Strait.

Tekirdag shore fish
A Hidden-Gem of Thrace
Canakkale Kilitbahir Castle
The Impassable
Top Places Gallipoli
A Sacred Site
Troy Private Guided Tour
The Legend
Pergamon Asclepeion tunnel sacred spring
Ancient Medical Center
Iznik wall Lefke gate
More than tiles

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