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Izmit, Iznik and Bilecik

 

 

 

Yesil Mosque, Iznik

 

 

 

 

A fast highway connects Istanbul with Izmit, the capital of the Kocaeli province. An important city in Roman times when it was known as Nicomedeia,it is now a prosperous industrial center. The Saatci Efendi Konak, a restored typical 18th century Ottoman mansion,now serves as the Ethnological Museum. Pismaniye, the local sweet, consists of thousands of thin layers of stretched sugar.

Hereke, west of lzmit, is a major carpet making center. Renowned throughout the world for their beauty and quality, these carpets fetch the highest prices in Istanbul's bazaars. On the Black Sea coast, north of lzmit, particularly at Kerpe, Kefken and Kovanagzi,sandy beaches and comfortable guest houses attract vacationers.

East of lzmit, Sakarya is the provincial capital of the province of Adapazari, an important agricultural and industrial region. The Sakarya (Sangarius) River waters this fertile land which abounds with fruit trees and fields of vegetables. In the city of Adapazari itself, the Ataturk and Ethnograpnicai Museum display a number of tne personal effects of the founder of the Turkish Republic as well as regional artifacts. The Beskopru Bridge, built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in 553,stretches for 429 meters across the river. Eight arches connect the two shores.

 

A few kilometers away at Lake Sapanca, quiet restaurants and hotels line the lakeshore. Istanbulites escape to this retreat in the Saman Mountain basin througnout the year. The Arifiye Forest on the highlands of Lake Sapanca has nice camping and picnic areas and an excellent panoramic view of the lake below.

The Akgol Lake lies just inland from the Black Sea Karasu holiday center. Both places offer scenic surroundings and comfortable accommodation. At Tarakli you can wander though a town that preserves many of its old buildings.

Formerly known as Nicaea, Iznik lies at the eastern tip of Lake Iznik, south of Izmit. Originally an important Roman and Byzantine town, it fell to the Seljuks in 1078 and subsequently to the Ottomans in 1331. Still a small town, it does not seem to have exceeded its original Roman walls. The four gates which allowed access to the city still stand. In the town center the ruins of the St. Sophia Cathedral, the seat of the first Ecumenical Council of 325, evoke images of convening bishops and clergy. In the 16th and 17th centuries, lznik was the center of the production of the exquisite ceramic wares which have made such an important decorative contribution to mosques and palaces throughout Turkey. A museum displays the finds from the nearby excavations.Among the important Islamic buildings in town, be sure to visit the turquoise tiled Yesil Mosque and the Nilufer Hatun Imareti.After exploring the sights, the lakeside fish restaurants provide delicious food and a relaxing atmosphere.

Yenisehir, on the road to Bursa, is filled with many interesting and lovely old Turkish houses. The 18th century Semaki Konak,now restored as a museum, welcomes visitors.

Ancient City Gate, Iznik

 

Iznik Ceramic

 

The province of Bilecik lies south of lznik in the verdant and fertile Sakarya River valley. In the old quarter of the city stands the mausoleum of Seyh Edebali, an important influence in the founding of the Ottoman Empire. Every September a commemorative ceremony and culture festival is held here in his honor. Near his tomb is the Orhan Gazi Mosque.

Set amid the numerous willows which give Sogut its name, a detour to this town is well worth the eftort. The migrating Kayi Turks first settled here, and the tomb of their leader Ertugrul Gazi stands in the town. In September a commemorative ceremony is held in his honor. Other tourist attractions include the life-size busts of famous figures from Turkish history and the Ethnographical Museum which traces,through its displays, the history of Turkey.