The Second Capital of Ottoman Empire
city of Ainos archaeologists have excavated a settlement belonging to
one of the oldest known neolithic cultures in the Balkans. Their pottery
and the defensive wall around the settlement are typical of contemporary
Anatolian cultures, so these people are thought to have been a colony
Thrace was settled by a people whose courage and skills as warriors put
fear into many of their neighbours. These qualities meant that the
Thracians were sought after as mercenaries by first the Athenians and
then the Romans. Thracian settlements took many forms, from caves to
strong forts, farms to fishing villages whose houses were raised on
poles, and unwalled cities.
east of Ainos, the Drugeri in the central region of the Hebrus, the Tyns
in Salmydessos and the Kalopothaks were some of the Thracian tribes who
inhabited the region stretching from Ainos to the Kallipolis (Gallipoli)
peninsula. Most famous of all were the Odrys who at the height of their
power inhabited an area extending from the Tonzos valley to the Aegean
one of the major to vns of the powerful Odrys Thracians. Odrysai lay in
the fork at the confluence of the Hebrus and the Tonzos, and was a
centre of commerce.
region lay on the only transit route between Europe and Asia Minor,
migrations, invasions, trade and cultural exchange had a profound effect
on its inhabitants. The passage of peoples to and fro was unceasing.
In 513 BC
the Persian king Darius led his army against the Scythians, crossing the
Bosphorus and advancing along the coast into Thrace. The army made its
first stop in the land of the Odrys, which now became part of the
later, in 492 BC, another Persian army led by Mardonius consolidated
Persian rule over Thrace, and in 480 BC the Thracians were obliged to
supply troops for the army of King Xerxes, who set out from the Gulf of
Melas (today Saros) on the Kallipolis peninsula, and conquered his way
to the city of Ainos, taking possession of the entire Hebrus plain.
Persians lost control of the region, the Thracian tribes resolved to
unite, choosing as their leader King Teres of the Odrys. In this way the
Odrys became master of an area stretching from the Hebrus to Kypsela (Ipsala)
and Varna, and established an aristocratic feudal state.
BC the Odrys were defeated in battle against the Macedonian army led by
King Philip, and thereafter stead'ıly declined in power. When his
father was killed in 336 BC Alexander the Great, afraid of uprisings
tearing his country apart, marched into Thrace in 335 BC. He advanced
along the coast, crossing through the kingless land of the Thracians and
over the river Nestos (Mesta) to reach the foothills of the Balkans in
just ten days. After passing through Odrysia and over the Hebrus, he
marched along the banks of the Tonzos, then crossed a pass. After
Alexander's death the successors to his empire turned Thrace into a
BC Thrace was invaded by the Galatians, but the Odrys soon regained
their former power and their king Kotys established friendly relations
with Macedonia. In the war against Rome which lasted from 171-168 BC,
Kotys was the only ally of Perseus. Eventually the Romans conquered
Macedonia, while Thrace began to live in the shadow of Rome.
pursued a policy of maximising their influence over the region by
establishing numerous kingdoms and principalities, but the Thracians who
had never been amenable to foreign domination rebelled against all these
efforts. Nevertheless, in the early years of our era, the land of the
Odrys had become .a Roman base and leverage point for maintaining its
power over the region. In these years the Greek coastal cities became
part of Rome, ruled by a Macedonian governor.
In 37-38 AD
Caligula made Rhaimetalkes king of Thrace, but after Rhaimetalkes was
killed the Emperor Claudius put an end to Thracian independence. In 45
AD Thrace was reduced to a province of the Roman Empire.
Roman emperor Hadrian (117-138) travelled to the East
in 123-124, he commanded that new buildings be constructed
in the town of Odrysai, also known as Uscudama. The town grew into a
city, and became one of the most important inthe Roman Empire. It was
now thought worthy to take the name of the emperor who had so honoured
the city, and Odrysai was re-named Hadrianopolis (Adrianopolis),
important building which Hadrian had constn.ıcted here was the
castle. Corresponding exactly to the plan of a Roman castrum, the castle
had nine gates, four circular towers, one at each corner, and along each
wall twelve quadrangular turrets. Around the walls was a moat. When Rome
was enjoying its golden age during the second century and first half of
the third century, the cities of Thrace grew and prospered.
Hadrianopolis, an important military stronghold and centre of trade with
a fertile hinterland, was no exception.
Diocletian (284-305) established a tetrarchy to govern the Roman Empire
more effectively in these times of civil strife, and the empire was
divided into East and West, Diocletian becoming emperor of the former.
As part of these changes Hadrianopolis was made provincial capital of
Haemimontus, one of six provinces in Thrace. But when Diocletian
abdicated in 305 a power struggle broke out between the eastern and
In 324 a
battle was fought near Hadrianopolis in which Licinius, emperor of
eastern Rome, was defeated by Constantine, emperor of the West. Licinius
withdrew to Byzantium, but was again defeated and then killed.
Constantine moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium, where as
Constantine I he ıuled the now reunited Roman Empire alone from 324
until 337. The new capital was known as Nea Roma until Constantine
renamed it Constantinopolis after himself on 11 May 330.
during the reign of the Emperor Valens (3~4-378) a Roman army was
defeated in battle against the Goths north of Hadrianopolis.
In order to
prevent upheavals in Thrace and a threatened mass exodus out of the
region, the Emperor Theodosius I (379-395) adopted a more conciliatory
policy towards the Goths. Theodosius spent September of 381 in
of relative peace was broken by a new threat, as the Huns launched
incursions against Thrace. The looting and plundering continued
sporadically between 441 and 447.
In 550 it
was the turn of the Avars, who roundly beat a Byzantine army outside
Hadrianopolis. Huge numbers of soldiers were taken captive and the
sacred standard of Constantine the Great was seized by the Avars. The
victors pursued the Byzantines as far as the wall of Anastasius west of
Constantinople, but here the Byzantines re-formed, set upon the Avars
and recaptured both the sacred standard and some of their companions
from the enemy.
reign of Heraclius (610-641), whose Heraclian dynasty lasted until the
end of the seventh century, Hadrianopolis was the centre of five
In 807 the
Emperor Nicephorus I (802-811) led an army against the Bulgars, who had
taken Hadrianopolis, and recaptured the city, but had to immediately
return to Constantinople where an uprising was being fomented against
onwards, the Pecheneks posed the greatest threat to Byzantine security.
During the reign of Constantine IX Monomachus (1042-1055) the Pecheneks
united to raise a powerful army which marched to Hadrianopolis,
encamped beneath its walls, and commenced raiding and looting the
surrounding villages and towns. When Constantinople was captured by the
Latins in 1204, Hadrianopolis came under the control of Venice, which
received the larger share of the divided Byzantium.
In 1336 one
of the daughters of Andronicus III (1328-1341) married the Bulgarian
prince Mikhael in Hadrianopolis. When Andronicus III died in 1341, he
was succeeded by his nine-year-old son John V (1341-1391). Cantacuzene,
who had been entrusted with the post of regent, betrayed this trust on
26 October 1341 by declaring himself emperor in Didymoteikhos. The
resulting conflict between factions supporting John V and Cantacuzene
escalated into civil war, which broke out in Hadrianopolis and swiftly
spread through Thrace. Cantacuzene took Hadrianopolis and in 1347
entered Constantinople, where for the second time he proclaimed himself
emperor as John VI in place of John V Palaeologus. In 1352 he was
obliged to fight for possession of Hadrianopolis once again, this time
against John V, who was strongly supported by the Serbians and
Bulgarians, including a contingent of 4000 cavalry. Cantacuzene appealed
for help against this intimidating force from the Turkish sultan Orhan
Gazi (1326-1360), who was at the same time his son-in-law. Orhan Gazi
sent his old friend and ally a force of around ten thousand soldiers
under Süleyman Bey, so securing Cantacuzene's victory.
night in 1354 Süleyman Bey took the fortress of Kallipolis, opening the
way for the Ottoman advance into Thrace. In 1360 under Orhan Gazi's
successor Murad I (1359-1389) Turkish forces conquered Didymotheikos.
Murad I set his sights on expanding Ottoman territory into Europe, and
quickly took Sultan, Çorlu and Keşan in western Thrace. He charged
Lala Şahin Paşa with the conquest of Hadrianopolis, and
together with another Turkish commander Hacı İlbeyi the city
was captured from the Byzantines in July 1362.
fetihname (declaration of conquest) sent by Murad I to Üveys
Han, ruler of the Turkish Celayirli principality, Hadrianople is
referred to as Edirne. In 1363 Murad I paid a visit to his new city, and
appointed Lala Şahin Paşa commander of the garrison. Edirne
became a crucial military base for subsequent territorial conquests by
the Turks in Rumelia (Land of the Romans) as they called the Balkans and
Thrace. The following year the Battle of Sırpsındığı
was fought 25 km west of Edirne against a joint army of Serbs,
Wallachians and Hungarians. One night Sultan Murad had a dream in which
he was conversing with a wise, white bearded old man, who advised him to
build a palace in Edirne. Murad I took heed of this dream and constıucted
himself a large palace beside the river.
Ottoman Dar-ül Mülk
the conquest large numbers of Turks began to settle in Edirne, which was
proclaimed the Ottoman capital in 1365, marking a new chapter in its
history. It was from here that Sultan Bayezid I (1389-1403) commanded
the first Turkish siege of Constantinople.
the death of Yıldırım Bayezid I, the empire was torn
apart by a decade of strife between his sons who all laid claim to the
throne. During the interregnum, which lasted from 1403 to 1413, Edirne
acquired even more importance. Bayezid's eldest son Emir Süleyman Çelebi
moved the state treasury from Bursa to Edirne, where he declared himself
sultan. In 1411, his brother Musa Çelebi, with the help of the voyvode
of Wallachia, attacked the city and seized it from his brother. Musa Çelebi
struck coins in his own name. In 1413 Mehmed I Çelebi (1413-1421)
reunited the country and took Edirne from his brother.
another claimant to the throne made a sudden appearance, declaring
himself to be Mustafa Çelebi (Mustafa the Pretender), the son of
Bayezid I who had disappeared at the Battle of Ankara against Tamerlane.
Gathering an army of supporters he captured Edirne and struck money in
his name. Later he marched into Anatolia, but was defeated by Murad II
(1421-1451) near Bursa. Mustafa Çelebi, who had made off with his
father's treasury but been waylaid on his way to Wallachia, was brought
back to Edirne in 1442 and executed. The first public festival was held
in the city in the wake of this event.
also held magnifıcent celebrations in Edirne upon the circumcision
of his sons Alaeddin and Mehmed. In 1444 Murad II abdicated in favour of
his son Mehmed so as to lead a life of peaceful retirement in Manisa.
Mehmed II was the first Ottoman sultan whose accession took place in
Edirne after the city became the Ottoman capital. The future Mehmed the
Conqueror was just a child of 12 when his father entrusted him with the
throne, but Murad II's retirement did not last long. When a crusader
army gathered against the Ottoman Empire he was obliged to return to
Edirne and resume leadership of the army against the enemy.
crushed the enemy at Varna, and attempted again to leave the country to
his son, but this time the janissaries mutinied, and he had to return to
Edirne again to take up his throne for the third time. Only upon his
death on 5 February 1451 did his son Mehmed II (1451-1481) finally rule
independently. This young man of 19 had a very important goal ahead of
him, to take Constantinople, and he began his preparations in Edirne.
II achieved his greatest ambition in 1453. In a final attack on the
morning of 29 May, the landward walls of Constantinople were
breached. That day the young sultan, rode into the city and performed
his prayers in the great church of Haghia Sophia. He was to go down in
history as Fatih Sultan Mehmed, Mehmed the Conqueror. Constantinople
became the third Ottoman capital, but Edirne was not pushed
altogether into the background, and was the scene of many important
events in the empire's subsequent history. Mehmed II's son Bayezid II
(1481-1512) had Gedik Ahmed Paşa executed at Edirne Palace, and it
was here that the struggle with his son Selim for the throne took place.
the main military base for all the sixteenth century campaigns of
conquest westwards into Europe, and in consequence the sultans spent
much of their time in the palace there. So Edirne was effectively the
seat of government for much of that time, enjoying the attention that
this brought. Yavuz Sultan Selim I (1512-1520), Süleyman I the
Magnificent (1520-15ü6) and Selim II (1566-1574) all founded public
the l7th century, beginning with Ahmed I (1603-1617), the sultans
continued to divide their time between Istanbul and Edirne. Osman II
(1617-1622) and Murad IV (1623-1640) organised magnificent hunting
parties in the forests around Edirne, and Mehmed IV (1649-1687), so
passionately fond of the chase that he was known as Mehmed the Hunter,
spent most of his time hunting here. In the 1670s this sultan embarked
on his campaigns against Russia and Poland from this surrogate capital.
sultan who preferred life in Edirne to Istanbul was Mustafa II
(1695-1703), who was deposed after an uprising known as the Edirne
Incident in 1703.
the Battle of Prut against Russia, which ended in the Treaty of Prut
signed on 16 April 1712, the Russians refused to withdraw from Poland as
agreed. After seven months the Ottomans resolved to go to war again, and
Ahmed III (1703-1730) set off at the head of his army from Istanbul to
Edirne. Alarmed by this, Peter I of Russia sent news that he was ready
to negotiate. As a result of peace talks held in Edirne the Treaty of
Edirne was signed on 24 June 1713, under which the Russians agreed to
withdraw from Poland within two months, to the restoration of the
frontiers as they had ,stood in the reign of Mehmed IV, and to the
return of King Karl XII of Sweden -who had been living in exile in the
Ottoman Empire- to his country under the escort of a Turkish guard
great fire of 1745 and then the earthquake of 1751 left Edirne
devastated. Its days of popularity and splendour were gone, and the city
went into decline. The leading Ottoman notables in the Balkans, afraid
of their power being undermined when Selim III (1789-1807) established
his new army the Nizam-ı Cedit, rebelled twice in Edirne, in 1801
broke out with Russia in 1828, and on 22 August 1829 the Russians took
Edirne after a siege of just three days, forcing the Ottomâns to sign a
peace treaty that would leave the empire weakened. The treaty was signed
on 14 September 1829 and Edirne restored to Ottoman rule, but the Muslim
population felt vulnerable and began to abandon the city in large
numbers. Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839) visited the city in 1831 to boost
its morale, remaining for ten days during which he gave orders for the
rebuilding of the city's damaged buildings. In commemoration of the
visit coins bearing the stamp of Edirne were struck, the three
denominations being known as the hayriye, nısfiye and rubiye.
Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-1878 Edirne was again occupied by Russian
forces on 20 January 1878. This time the occupation lasted for over 13
months, during which many areas of the city were burnt and razed before
Ottoman rule was restored on 13 March 1879.
decades of relative peace for Edirne again came to an end when the
Balkan states formed an alliance against the Ottoman Empire and war
broke out in 1912. A Bulgar and Serbian army attacked Edirne, whose
defending forces under Şükrii Paşa held out for 160 days
until hunger forced them to surrender on 26 March 1913.
On 22 July
1913 an Ottoman force led by Enver Paşa met with no resistance when
they came to retake a city now in a ruinous state. All efforts by the
European powers to eject the Turks from Edirne on a permanent basis
failed, and under the Bucharest Treaty of 10 August 1913 Edirne was left
to the Ottomans.
and 1922, in the wake of the First World War, Edirne spent over two
years under Greek occupation. Following the Mudanya Armistice a Turkish
army entered Edirne on 25 November 1922. Finally the Lausanne Treaty of
24 July 1923 turned Edirne into a frontier town on the border with
Greece and Bulgaria.
nearly two centuries of largely man-made devastation, Edirne still
retained many of its Turkish monuments. While the first Ottoman capital
Bursa is renowned today largely for its early Ottoman architecture, the
second capital Edirne represents the entire spectrum of Ottoman
architecture over the centuries. Even though its own role as capital
ended in the mid-fifteenth century, it was bedecked over subsequent
centuries with buildings representing the greatest eras of Ottoman
oldest Turkish building in Edirne, dating from 1397-1400, this mosque
was built on the foundations of an earlier cruciform Byzantine church.
It has a small central dome surrounded by four vaults.
of this mosque began in 1403 by Emir Süleyman Çelebi, and was
completed in 1414 by Sultan Mehmed Çelebi. Its architect was Hacı
Alaeddin of Konya. The square building with nine small domes and four
pillars is of the ulu mosque type. It is constructed of ashlar stone,
and the portico is built of alternate courses of stone and brick. One of
its most interesting features are the large inscriptions.
founded by Sultan Murad II in 1436 is one of the finest examples of
mosques with secondary areas off the central prayer hall. While the
exterior is severe, the interior is decorated with superb examples of
fifteenth century Ottoman decorative art, in the form of tiles covering
all but the north wall, beautiful stencihed decoration on the intrados
of the large arch linking the two central domes, the magnificent mihrap
niche and the minber.
was also founded by Murad II and constructed between 1438 and 1447. It
marks the transition between early and classical Ottoman architecture. A
transverse plan is used here in Turkish architecture for the first time.
One of its four minarets has three balconies, another two balconies and
the remaining two have a single balcony each. The minarets are richly
decorated with stalactite carving, reeding and spiral motifs. Separate
spiral staircases cleverly intertwined lead up to each of the balconies
in the first minaret, which gives the mosque its name - Üç Şerefeli,
meaning Three Balconied. The courtyard is surrounded by colonnades with
slightly pointed arches and contains a şadırvan (ablution
Sultan Bayezid II set out to conquer the forts of Kilia and Akkerman in
Moldavia and Bessarabia he halted in Edirne to get in military supplies,
and on 23 May 1484 the foun- dations were laid for a mosque and large külliye
(complex) consisting of şifahane (hospi- tal), medrese
(college), imaret (public kitchen), tabhane (guest
house), hamam (baths), and flour mill on the banks of the Tunca
river. The project also included a bridge over the river. At a time when
in Europe the mentally ill were believed to be under the influence of
the devil, and frequently burnt at the stake, patients in Bayezid's
hospital were treated with music therapy. The hospital staff included
ten singers and musicians playing the ney, violin, santur and ud.
Certain modes of Turkish music were found to be particularly beneficial,
among them neva, rast, dügah, segah, çargah and buselik. As well as
music another form of therapy involved the scent of flowers.
numbers among the greatest monuments of Ottoman Turkish architecture.
Designed by the architect Hayreddin, it has a single dome 21 metres in
diameter over the prayer hall, and nearly a hundred smaller domes over
the buildings of the complex.
mosque was built between 1569 and 1575 by Mimar Sirıan for Sultan
Selim II, and Mimar Sinan described it as his masterpiece. It has four
minarets, each with three balconies, and these graceful minarets set at
each corner around the central dome are visible from a great distance
outside the city.
metre diameter dome rests on eight pillars set back against the walls,
so creating an unbroken soaring central space. The eloquent unity of the
interior, visible in entirety at a glance, is remarkable. The clear
silhouette of the exterior is dominated by the dome.
Mosque is also celebrated for the perfection of its marble carving,
tiles and calligraphic decoration. In particular the marble carving of
the minber has never been surpassed. The mihrap wall, royal gallery and
the pediments of all the lower course windows are decorated with
beautiful tiling, the finest in colour and composition being the large
tile panels on the mihrap wall. The stencil decoration on the ceiling of
the lower part of the royal gallery is also of especial note.
intricately carved marble şadırvan stands in the cloistered
palace in Edirne was built by Murad I. In 1450 Sultan Murad II started
building a new palace on a large site on the west bank of the Tunca, and
following his death in 1451 this palace was completed by his son Mehmed
One of the
most important palace buildings was the Cihannüma Kasır, a seven
storey structure on whose top floor was an octagonal chamber containing
an ornamental pool in the centre. Next to Cihannüma was the Kum Kasır,
which had a hamam with a spiral ribbed dome.
the Cihannüma Kasır was a rectangular maksem (a water
distribution structure) over a vaulted basement. Water from the su
terazisi (water towers placed in valleys which acted on the
principal of hydraulic levels and served as inverted siphons) filled
tanks in the maksem, from which it was distributed in six directions. In
the second half of the sixteenth century a prayer terrace was built at
Much of the
palace was badly damaged during the Russian occupation which began on 22
August 1829. When Sultan Abdülaziz made his state visit to Europe in
1867, he travelled on the Sultaniye yacht for the outward journey but
returned by land. Since the original plan had been for him to travel via
Edirne, the Cihannüma Kasır was repaired and some additions made
in preparation for his arrival. But instead the sultan travelled from
Belgium via Coblenz, Prussia, Vienna and Budapest by road, and made the
rest of the journey by steam ship along the Danube, across the Black Sea
and through the Bosphon.ıs.
In 1875 when
news arnved that the Russian army was on its way to capture Edirne, the
city's governor Cemil Paşa blew up the ammunition dump near the
palace to prevent it falling into Russian hands. The explosions lasted
for three or four days, endangering the city and demolishing the 425
Roman emperor Hadrian journeyed to the eastern provinces of his empire
in 123-124 he built a magnificent castle at Edirne, which had been named
Hadrianopolis after himself. This castle was still standing until the
mid-nineteenth century. Between 1866 and 1870 it was demolished and the
stone used to build a hospital, school, government buildings and an army
barracks. Of the four corner towers only one survived, transformed into
a clock tower.
is a city of many bridges, most of them spanning the Tunca. These stone
bridges, mentioned in many folk songs, reflect the spatial and
monumental concepts of contempo- rary Ottoman architecture. Those within
the city are an integral part of the urban texture. The imposing beauty
of Edirne's bridges, some of which outside the city are the work of
Mimar Sinan, were never matched elsewhere.
of these bridges dates from the reign of the Byzantine emperor Michael
Palaeologus (1261-1282). This 27 arch bridge was renovated by Gazi Mihal
Bey in 1420 and thereafter known after him. In 1640 Kemankeş Kara
Mustafa Paşa constructed a pointed arched baldachin, the Tarih Köşk,
on the bridge.
In 1451 the
twelve arch Şahabettin Paşa Bridge (also known as Saraçhane
Bridge) was constnıcted. This was followed in 1452 by the Fatih
Bridge, the Bayezid Bridge built in 1488 by Mimar Hayreddin, the Saray
(Kanuni) Bridge built in 1560 by Mimar Sinan, Ekmekçizade Ahmed Paşa
Bridge built in 1608-1615 by Sedefkar Mehmed Ağa and the Meriç
(Yeni) Bridge at the confluence of the Meriç and Arda rivers between
1842 and 1847. These are the most notable of Edirne's historic bridges.
(caravanserais) were the hotels of their day, providing
accommodation and stabling for merchants and travellers. One of the most
interesting examples of classical Ottoman kervansarays is Rüstem Paşa
Kervansaray, built by Mimar Sinan for Süleyman the Magnificent's
celebrated grand vezir Rüstem Paşa. It consists of a central
rectangular courtyard surrounded by colonnades, behind which are the
rooms. Along one of the exterior walls it has a row of shops which
provided income for the institution. Ekmekçioğlu Ahmed Paşa
Kervansaray was built in 1609 by Ekmekçioğlu Ahmed Paşa,
finance minister to Sultan Ahmed I, on that sultan's orders. Its
architects were Sedefkar Mehmed Ağa and Hacı Şaban of
houses were timber framed with stone foundations, and the exterior
often plastered. They had broad eaves and jutting bays supported by
series of stn.ıts. The entrance was set back slightly in the centre
of the main façade.
room facing Mecca was usually set aside as a prayer room. All the living
rooms had fitted cupboards where linen and household ware of all kinds
were kept. There were jugs, cups, bowls and plates
for serving preserves, confectionery, sherbet
and syrups, embroidered towels and other linen, basins and ewers.
Rooms where guests were received had shelves along the walls on which
the family's most treasured pottery and porcelain plates, bowls and jugs
would be displayed and alcoves containing several shelves known as katlı
raf were similarly used to display pretty bowls, gülabdan (rosewater
sprinklers) and vases.
Edirne's winters could be extremely cold, the walls were thick to
provide insulation and the rooms contained fireplaces either set into
the walls or protruding from the exterior walls in the form of conical
Edirne house plan, which was adopted throughout the Balkans, was
characterised by a central gallery room known as a hayat off
which the other rooms opened, a feature of all houses from the most
humble to the grandest. At one end the hayat jutted out over the garden,
supported by posts 1.5-2 metres in height. This end of the hayat was
raised slightly from the floor level of the rest of the gallery and
surrounded by wooden divans.
had separate courtyards for the harem (the private part of the
house reserved for the family and female guests) and selamlık (where
the master of the household received guests and carried out his business
affairs) sections. These contained marble fountains, sometimes small
pools and vine shaded arbours. A small door linked the harem and
Edirne was a
major centre of trade which enjoyed centuries of prosperity. The
fortress like bazaars known as bedesten where traders in
gold, silver, jewelry and other precious goods had their shops was guarded by a
watchman at night. The revival of trade in the eastern Mediterranean in
the fifteenth century was the main factor in Edirne's economic
development. Wheat, barley, maize and other agricultural staples shipped
from Egypt, the Aegean islands, İzmir and other western Anatolian
cities arrived at the port of Enez, where they were loaded onto smaller
ships and sent up river to Edirne. In addition rice from Filibe
(Plovdiv) arrived via the Meriç river and was sent from here to
the seventeenth century merchants arriving with their caravans from Iran
would market these goods in Edirne, load up with new purchases and
continue on into the Balkans. Goods from Europe were also found in the
markets of Edirne, and from here European merchants returned home with
beeswax and leather goods. Venetian and French merchants came here to
purchase silks from Bursa and woollens from Ereğli.
commercial buildings were constructed in Edirne to provide
accommodation, storage and retail premises for merchants and shopkeepers
as the economy of the city flourished. As well as bedestens for trading
and storing valuable goods, there were hans where craftsmen and
merchants could rent offices and workshops and bazaars. Rentals from
these buildings provided revenues for the upkeep of the mosques, and
paid for the food distributed to students, the poor and mosque personnel
at the imarets.
and 1418 Sultan Mehmed I Çelebi founded a bedesten as an endowment for
Eski Mosque. Built by Mimar Alaeddin, this 14 domed building consisted
of a row of shops around the outside and 36 vaulted rooms inside. Its
walls were of red and white ashlar stone.
Çarşısı was a bazaar of 130 shops built by Mimar Sinan
for Hersekli Semiz Ali Paşa in 1569. The bazaar was 300 metres long
and had six gates.
(open bazaar) consisting of 124 shops was founded as an endowment
for Selimiye Mosque by Murad III (1574-1595) and built by the architect
Davut Ağa. The arasta was 255 metres in length with 73 arches.
attracted a large population of craftsmen, including leather workers,
saddlers, harness makers, felt makers, shoe makers, weavers, spinners,
silk thread makers and tailors. There were also large numbers of cook
shops, kebab shops, grocers, bakers and butchers. The frequent presence
of the court, notables and wealthy local citizens also meant that
goldsmiths and jewellers were numerous.
of artisans included metalworkers such as iron and coppersmiths, dyers,
cart and carriage makers, textile printers, rose oil makers and soap
makers. Their shops were mainly on the ground floors of two or three
storey buildings facing the streets, and in some cases consisted of rows
of shops with upper storeys. Part of the tax revenues raised in Edirne
nrovided income for nublic institutions.
its height Edirne was one of the Ottoman Empire's most important cities,
situated strategically on the military and economic transit routes into
Europe. The westernised fashions of Istanbul were adopted with alacrity
in Edirne, from which they spread into the Balkan territories of Turkey.
seventeenth century Edirne had a population of 350,000, making it
Europe's fourth largest city after Istanbul, Paris and London.
Subsequently the decline which had begun with the fire of 1745 gathered
momentum with the series of enemy occupations during the nineteenth
century (the Russian occupations of 1829 and 1878, Bulgarian occupation
of 1913 and Greek occupation of 1920-1922). During the war with Russia
in 1828-1829 a large part of the Muslim population migrated, and their
place was taken by Christians from outlying villages.
gipsy community were without doubt the most vivacious of Edirne's
inhabitants. The men made a living tinning copper and as carters, while
most of the women were peddlers who sold their wares from door to door.
The gipsies, who were Muslims, were also popular musicians with their
own distinctive style. They played such instruments as drums; zurna,
clarinet, kanun, darbuka, def (tamborine), ud and cümbüş.
At the end
of the nineteenth century the Turkish and Muslim population was 79,000,
Greek 77,000, Armenian 5000, Bulgarian 32,000 and Jewish 9000.
Edirne was a
subprovince known as a paşa sancağı attached to
the Beylerbeyi of Rumel: until the 1840s, when it became a province.
the site of the famous oil wrestling tournament, is a word meaning Forty
Springs, and is thought to have been named after forty Turkish warriors
who formed the vanguard of the first Ottoman crossing over the Çanakkale
(Dardanelles) Strait into Europe in the fourteenth century.
principalities of Aydın and Saruhan who had assisted the Byzantines
in quelling rebellious Byzantine fortresses and cities in the European
territories of the empire, later made a habit of raiding these regions,
and the Byzantine emperor sought an alliance with the Ottomans, who were
becoming an increasingly powerful and expanding force in Anatolia.
Gazi had no objection to taking advantage of this situation by
aiding the Byzantines against rival Turkish principalities. While the
latter were intent only on short term gains, and always returned to
Anatolia after their incursions, his aim was different. Orhan Gazi
intended to gain a foothold on European soil and to expand his budding
Ottoman Empire westwards.
sent a force under Süleyman Bey to take one of the Byzantine forts in
Rumelia. Süleyman Bey crossed the Çanakkale Strait on two rafts with
forty picked warriors, and in a surprise attack towards dawn took the
fort of Kallipolis (Gelibolu). With reinforcements who crossed the
strait later, he went on to lead his forces against a series of
fortresses in the region.
trusty warriors who formed the vanguard of this force were all master
wrestlers, and whenever the army stopped to camp they held wrestling
matches. When they arrived at a meadow some distance away from
Hadrianopolis, they again organised a tournament, at which one pair of
wrestlers resumed a match that had remained unfinished at the previous
tournament. The match happened to coincide with the spring festival of Hıdrellez.
Evening fell, but still neither of the pair had beaten the other. They
continued in the darkness, and eventually towards midnight both died of
exhaustion. They were buried in the meadow here, and the army marched on
to Hadrianopolis the next day.
and Orhan Gazi had died to be succeeded by his son Murad I. Hadrianople
was now in Turkish hands, and had become known as Edirne. The surviving
warrior wrestlers decided to erect stones over the graves of their two
heroic fellows. When they arrived at the meadow they found a stream of
crystal clear water gushing from foriy springs, and named the meadow Kırkpınar.
The meadow of Kırkpınar lies about 25 kilometres west of
Edirne, and is today inside the Greek frontier.
When Murad I
made Edirne his capital, he established a lodge to train archers, cirit
players (an equestrian game played between two teams throwing a
javelin) and wrestlers, and at the same time it became traditional for a
wrestling tournament to be held at Kırkpınar each year. About
three weeks before Hıdrellez the steward of the tournament, known
as the Kırkpınar Ağa, would send candles with red bases
to the cities, towris and villages of the region, and these would be
hung from the ceilings of coffee houses as messages to wrestlers of
particular note living in those neighbourhoods. This gave rise to the
expression, `Were you invited with a red based candle?', in reference to
someone who turns up uninvited.
before the tournament local villagers would begin erecting stalls for
tradesmen and shaded arbours around the wrestling field for the
spectators. Tradesmen would rent the stalls to sell their wares, food
before the tournament the steward would supervise the erection of tents
for the wrestlers and guests. Cauldrons and pans would be brought to the
meadow, and the cooks would begin their preparations for the three days
of feasting and entertainment to come. The tournament commenced three
days prior to Hıdrellez. Two or three of the oldest and most
respected wrestlers would be appointed as referees who watched the
matches with the steward from his own tent. The last day was set aside
for the wrestling match between the first and second master wrestlers,
and generally the tournament would draw to an end on the eve of Hıdrellez.
red and Edirne work
is a type of painted decoration done on wood. From the fourteenth
century onwards this decoration was applied to ceilings, doors, and
shelves in the wooden houses of Edirne, and to furniture such as
cupboards, clocks, chests, pen cases and boxes. Inside the boxes gilt tuğra
(imperial ciphers) and other motifs were executed.
of Edirnekâri consisted primarily of flowers, leaves and fruits,
executed with fine craftsmanship in paints noted for their durability.
single flowers or small sprays of flowers typical of this work until the
seventeenth century were replaced in the eighteenth century by large
bunches of flowers or flowers in vases.
At the same
time designs of this type began to appear on leather book bindings, and
the lacquered bindings for which Edirne was renowned therefore also
became known as Edirnekâri.
eighteenth century Edirne became famous for a red dye known as Turkey
red or Edirne red (rouge d'Adrianople in Europe). Cotton fabrics dyed in
this colour were also known as Edirne red.
painted decoration known Edirnekâri work survived until the
mid-nineteenth century, and pieces of great beauty were produced by
masters of the art.
sixteenth century all imperial festivals in celebration of events such
as victories, circumcisions of royal princes and marriages of royal
princesses were held in Edirne. Although from the sixteenth century
onwards Istanbul took over this role, Mehmed IV held a festival in
Edirne in 1675 to celebrate the, circumcision of his sons.
first festival in Edirne was held to celebrate the capture and execution
of Mustafa the Pretender by Murad II. The same sultan held splendid
circumcision feasts here for his sons Alaeddin and Mehmed II, and in
1444 organised a festival in celebration of the Ramazan bayram (the
holiday marking the end of this month of fasting) consisting mainly of
sports displays and lasting three days and three nights. In 1450 a
festival which continued for an unprecedented three months was held in
celebration of the marriage of Murad's son Şehzade Mehmed to Sitti
four years after Istanbul had been conquered and proclaimed capital,
Mehmed II the Conqueror held a festival in Edirne to celebrate the
circumcision of his sons Şehzade Bayezid and Şehzade Mustafa.
As well as sports events and other accustomed entertain ments, it
featured discussions and debates between scholars.
to these, circumcision celebrations were held in Edirne in 1472 for
Mehmed's sons Cem Sultan and Şehzade Abdullah, and in 1480 for
Selim, Şehinşah, Mahmud, Alem, Korkud, Ahrnet and Oğuz
the most spectacular of all these festivals was that organised in 1674
by Mehmed IV who lived in Edirne for most of his reign. This was to
celebrate the circumcision of his 12 year-old son Mustafa (the future
Mustafa II) and his two year-old son Ahmed (the future Ahmed III), and
the wedding of his 17 year-old daughter Hatice Sultan to his vezir and
companion Mustafa Paşa. The feasting and celebrations for the
circumcision lasted 16 days, for the wedding 19 days, and are among the
most colourful pages in Edirne's history.
for the festivities began six months in advance. Extravagantly decorated
standards known as nahıl, artificial gardens carried on
floats, and figures of animals made of sugar were traditional features
of the parades. Acrobats, illusionists, snake charmers, shadow players,
puppeteers and many other performers entertained the crowds and horse
races, archery contests, cirit matches, sword fights and wrestling
matches were held.
the eighteenth century country excursions and picnics became a favourite
recreation of the urban population. Every city had its attractive
meadows and parks in the vicinity, and in Edirne it was the orchards and
meadows along the Meriç river where the people gathered on summer
holidays to enjoy the green surroundings, the view of the river, and
chatting to their companions.