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Edirne worth seeing
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 25 Aug 2008 Mon 06:05 am

 
Glorious gateway to Thrace Edirne
 
Tucked away in the far northwest corner of Turkey is the lovely small town of Edirne, a place that tends to get overlooked by visitors intent on the typical two-week loop tour of the country.

But it wasn´t always this way. In the 1970s Edirne was very much a fixture on the overland routes from northern Europe to Turkey and points east. Then came the Iranian revolution, which shut down the old hippy trail and the cheap air ticket revolution, which made it more expensive to travel by road than by air. Slowly, Edirne slipped off the travel map of all except those with a particular interest in Ottoman architecture.

Because the great thing about Edirne is that it still retains a great deal of its original Ottoman town planning. Unlike so many towns -- particularly those in Trakya (Thrace -- the European part of Turkey) -- it is yet to disappear behind a wall of high-rise apartment blocks. Instead, it´s a pleasingly low-rise town that is ringed with water meadows, the sort of place which positively insists on that rather un-Turkish activity of taking a short country stroll.

Of course Edirne is best known for two completely different things. The first is that it is home to one of the finest works of the great Ottoman architect Sinan (c. 1497-1588) to be found outside İstanbul. This is the Selimiye Camii, which was built between 1569 and 1575 on a piece of land that slopes gently downwards to the town center. Sinan himself is said to have thought the Selimiye Camii his masterpiece, outstripping in beauty even the more famous Süleymaniye Camii in İstanbul. A funny story records how he supposedly asked a passing crone what she thought of his building. No doubt anticipating encomiums, he was taken aback to have her tell him that one of the four minarets was out of line. Rather than argue with her, Sinan had a worker ascend the minaret with a rope which he threw back down to a colleague on the ground. The colleague then heaved on the rope according to directions from the old lady, until at last she was prepared to concede that the minaret was upright. Once she had trotted away happy, the workers chided Sinan for listening to her and putting them through such a pantomime. In a piece of folk philosophizing that might have come straight from Nasreddin Hoca, Sinan replied that it was wiser to go along with her and see her depart satisfied than argue with her and watch her walk away to tell everyone that he had built a crooked minaret.

Zaman

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