Edirne: The heart of Thrace

For centuries, the city of Edirne in Turkey's Western Thrace region has long served as a gateway for the western world as Europeans made their way into Anatolia and the greater Asian continent.

Situated between the Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish borders, this beautiful city is famed for its many mosques and the elegant domes and minarets which dominate the panoramic appearance of the province. It originally served as the capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1416 until the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet the 2nd in 1453.

Ipsala, is a district of Edirne province and it is Turkey's second most important border gate with Greece and the wider European frontier. It is a wildfowl paradise enjoyed by both Turks and travellers from all over the world.

One of the most important monuments in this ancient province is the Selimiye Mosque, built in the 16th century by the Turkey's greatest architect, Mimar Sinan.

Carrying the name of the Sultan reigning in that era, this mosque magnificently represents Turkish marble handicrafts and architecture, and it is covered with valuable tiles and fine paintings. In june 2011 the Selimiye Mosque complex was designated a place on UNESCO's world heritage list.

In addition to Ottoman-Islamic social complexes, Saatli Madrasa which was built on the yard of Üç Şerefeli Mosque in the reign of Murad II, Darul Hadis and Peykler Madrasa which were built in the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmed reveal that Edirne is a center of education.

In addition to these places, several rest houses, Turkish baths, covered bazaars, bridges, and fountains make Edirne a city of civilization.

The lively bazaars of "Bedesten" and "Arasta" make the province colorful and bring back the ancient times. Several bridges exist which have stood for centuries, adorning the land with their old but fine appearances.

A specialty of Edirne is to be a center for oil-wrestling, which is the national sport of Turkey. The championships are held here every year at the end of july, for more than 400 years on Kirkpinar island, a forested area between the Meriç and Tunca rivers. These traditional events celebrate many entertaining activities, and the province is filled with spectators eager to join in the festivities.

Liver is definitely a must-try for non-vegetarians. It is prepared in a unique local way and served with a spicy-hot, dried and crunchy pepper. For those who don't like liver because of its distinct smell, you can be pretty sure you won't sense it in Edirne liver. Best accompanied with Ayran, a salty Yogurt drink and bread, which fortunately is served free of charge at liver restaurants, because it can suppress the fire the dried pepper leaves on your palate.

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