Why You MUST Visit The Capital of the Ottoman Empire

Edirne was the capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1363 to 1453 until May 29, 1453, the day Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul and it became the empire’s fourth and final capital. I recently paid a visit to this magnificent city and I have 7 answers for the question in the article’s title:

1. Its History

Romans, Greeks, and Ottomans ruled and lived in Edirne which has an imperial past and comprehensive cultural wealth.  Edirne has numerous Ottoman Empire complexes such as mosques, bridges, palaces, schools and fountains. It’s a true gallery of architectural wonders.

2. Its Cuisine

Edirne-style fried lamb’s liver, almond paste and cookie with almond are the most known and loved foods of Edirne. There are many small local restaurants in the historical center of the city where you can taste delicious fried lamb’s live. For sweet lovers, I highly recommend to eat one of those sweets and take some as a gift for your friends.

3. The Selimiye Mosque

The Selimiye mosque was built by the great architect Sinan between 1569 and 1575 during Sultan Selim II. Sinan called Selimiye his masterpiece and one of the highest achievements of Islamic architecture. It has a huge encompassing dome with 31.25 mt diameter which is even bigger than the dome of Hagia Sophia Church. The minarets of the mosque are 83 mt (272 ft) high and the thinnest and tallest towers in the World. The mosque was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage in 2011.

4. Beyazid II Health Complex

The Ottoman Emperor Sultan Beyazid II built Darüşşifa (health complex) between 1484-1488. The hospital section was one of the most important health complexes of its period. In the 1500s, there were ophthalmologists who were doing eye surgeries in the hospital section.  Lunatics were treated with the sound of water and music.  The Health Museum received European Museum Prize for the Year 2004.


5. Karaağaç Neighborhood & Meriç Riverbank

Meriç River is the longest river that runs solely in the interior of the Balkans and is a natural border between Turkey and Greece. The Karaağaç neighborhood of Edirne is located on another side of Meriç River. Karaağaç is a popular area for locals and the young. You can sit in a cafe or a restaurant on the riverbank, rent a bike or horse carriage and enjoy the area and the riverside.

6. Wrestling

Oil-wrestling is an old Turkish tradition. Edirne is the capital of the oil-wrestling sport. There is a big stadium that is just at the opposite side of old palace area in Edirne, called Kırkpınar. Since 1346 every year in late June, the oil-wrestling tournament is held here. This sport is known as the longest running sports competition in Guinness World Record Book. Before the contest, the wrestlers pour olive oil over their bodies. They wear only trousers made of leather called as “Kıspet”.

7. Old Palace Area

The old palace was built in a hunting and forestry area which is around 80 acres and is located north of the city on the west bank of Tunca river. Emperor Murad II started the construction of the palace. In the following years, the construction of the palace was continuously continued and extended with new buildings around it.  During the Russian occupation in 1829, the palace was damaged heavily and was used as a military camp. There are some restorations and you can see some buildings of old palace. But you can walk around the wide area, imagine the old glorious days of the palace and listen to the ghosts of the Ottoman Empire.

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