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

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

Kefke Rocky Outcrops

East of Izmir, is Adapazari, the provincial capital of Sakarya, an important agricultural and industrial region. The Sakarya (Sangarius) River irrigates this fertile land which abounds in fruit trees and fields of vegetables. In the city of Adapazari, itself, the Ataturk and Ethnography Museum displays 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 m across the river, with eight arches connect the two shores.

A few km away at Lake Sapanca, quiet restaurants, hotels, and summer residences line the lakeshore. Istanbulites escape to this retreat in the Saman Mountain basin throughout 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.

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

The province of Bilecik lies southeast of Iznik in the verdant and fertile Sakarya River Valley. In the old quarter of the city stands the mausoleum of Seyh Edebali, who played an important role in the founding of the Ottoman Empire. Every September, a commemorative ceremony and cultural festival are held here in his honor. The Orhan Gazi Mosque is near his tomb.

Set amid the numerous willows which give Sogut its name, the town is well worth a detour.

Izmit Museum

The migrating Kayi Turks first settled here, and the tomb of their leader Ertugrul Gazi is 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 Ethnography Museum which traces the history of Turkey through its displays.

In ancient times Yalova was known as Helenapolis in memory of Emperor Constantine’s mother Helena who designed the city. Today, Yalova is an important port city, famous for its thermal baths. Termal, in the southwestern part of the city is the center of the thermal district and the best place in Turkey to enjoy the curative thermal bath waters. In Termal, there’s a wonderful panoramic view of the entire Thermal district center from the top of a hill overlooking the city. The Ataturk Mansion, located in Yalova, is now a museum (open to the public weekdays except Monday and Thursday). Built in 1929, Ataturk’s former summer residence displays original furnishings from the early 20th century. For more natural beauty take in Karaca Arboretum, open Sunday afternoons until 6 p.m.


Seventeen km west of Yalova, the relaxing resort area of Cinarcik has lovely beaches and modern accomodations.

Formerly known as Nicaea, Iznik lies at the eastern tip of Lake Iznik, to the south of lzmit. The city was founded in 316 BC by Antigonas, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, and then taken by another general, Lysimachus, who named the city “Nicaea” for his wife. Later the city fell to the Bithynian Kingdom and was bequeathed to Rome in 128 BC. After playing its role as an important Roman, and then later Byzantine city, it fell to the Seljuks in 1078 and passed on to the Ottomans in 1331. The Roman theater was built by Trajan (249-251). On the shore of Lake Iznik stands the Roman Senate, where the first Council of Nicea took place in 325. In the center of the town is the Church of St. Sophia, used by other councils. One of the more important councils was in 745 over iconoclasm, the role of icons in worship. The “Baptisteriurn” has a cupola over the baptistry. The Ottomans converted this church into the Orhan Mosque. Another church is the 6th-century “Komesis” Church built for the ascension of the virgin. Iznik stands along with Jerusalem, Ephesus and the Vatican in importance in the Christian world. It is still a small town which does not seem to have exceeded its original 4227 m of Roman walls with their 114 towers.

The four gates which allowed access to the city still stand. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Iznik was the center of exquisite ceramic ware production which made an important decorative contribution to mosques and palaces throughout Turkey. A museum displays the finds of nearby excavations. Among the important Islamic buildings, be sure to visit the turquoise tiled Yesil Mosque and the Nilufer Hatun Imarethanesi. After exploring the sights, the lakeside fish restaurants provide delicious food and a relaxing atmosphere. Five km from Iznik, in the village of Elbeyli there are a 5th century catacomb and an obelisk 15.5 m high built by Cassius Philiscus.

Yenisehir, 40 km. northeast of Bursa, is filled with many interesting and lovely old Turkish houses. The 18th century Semaki Mansion, now restored as a museum, is open to visitors.

Turkish Bath
Turkish Bath

The city of Bursa, southeast of the Sea of Marmara, lies on the lower slopes of Uludag (Mt. Olympos of Mysia, 2,443 m). The city derives its name from its founder, King Prusias of Bithynia. Its previous antique name was Prussa ad Hypium. It subsequently came under Roman, then Byzantine rule before falling to Orhan Gazi in 1326, when it become the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. Many important Ottoman buildings remain.

Known as “Green Bursa,” the city is filled with gardens and parks and overlooks a verdant plain. It is at the center of an important fruit growing region. Bursa was, and is still, famous for its peaches, silk trade, towel manufacture and thermal springs. Make a point to try the local dish Iskender Kebab, a dish of bread, tomato sauce, strips of grilled meat, melted butter and yogurt. Candied chestnuts are another regional speciality.

A tour of the city begins in the eastern section at the Yesil Turbe (Green Mausoleum). Set in a garden and distinguished by its exterior paneling of tiles, the mausoleum holds the tiled cenotaph of Sultan Mehmet 1. Across the street, the Yesil Mosque of 1424 reflects the new Ottoman, as opposed to Seljuk, aesthetic. A medrese nearby completes the complex and is also home to the Ethnography Museum. Before exploring this area, stop for a glass of tea in one of the traditional tea houses. Going uphill, to the east, you pass by the Emir Sultan Mosque in its delightful setting, and after walking through a district of old houses, you reach the Yildirim Beyazit Mosque (1391).

Now make your way to Cumhuriyet Square (known locally as Heykel) and stroll along Ataturk Avenue to Kom Park where outdoor cafes are set among flowers and fountains. At the back of the park, a long building, the Kom Han (1490), houses the silk cocoon trade. From here you proceed to the covered bazaar area, with its narrow streets, caravanserais and bedesten.

On the other side of Kom Park stands one of Bursa’s oldest religious buildings, the Orhan Gazi Mosque, built in 1413. Nearby is the large Ulu Mosque, constructed in the Seljuk style. A finely carved walnut mimber (speaker’s platform) and impressive calligraphic panels decorate the mosque. The sadirvan (ablutionary fountain) lies uncharacteristicly within the mosque itself under the ceiling of twenty domes.

Walking west from the Ulu Mosque you arrive at Hisar, an old and picturesque quarter of Bursa. In the park that overlooks the valley are the mausoleums of Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, and his son Orhan Gazi, who commanded the army that conquered Bursa. The cafes of Tophane offer a good place to stop for refreshments. In nearby Ressamlar Sokak (Painters’ Street), local artists work in the open air.


At the Yildiz Park Tea Gardens in the Muradiye quarter, you get a superb view of the Muradiye Complex. The compound, in a tranquil park-like setting, contains the Mosque of Sultan Murat 11 (1426) built in the style of the Yesil Mosque and the tombs of Murat 11, Sehzade Cem and Sehzade Mustafa. These contain some of the loveliest decoration and tile work. The nearby Ottoman House Museum is in a restored 17th century dwelling that provides an interesting glimpse into the lives of wealthy Ottomans.

Other places of interest in Bursa include the Culture Park with the Bursa Archeological Museum, and the Ataturk Museum on the road to Cekirge, The western suburb of Cekirgehas been known since Roman times for its warm springs rich in minerals. Many modem hotels have thermal bath facilities or, you can also visit the old hamams. Yeni Kaplica (New Spring) was built in 1552 by RustemPasa, Pasa, the Grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent. TheEski Kaplica (Old Spring), built on the site of the original Byzantine baths, is the oldest bath. The Karamustafa Pasa baths are reputed to have the best hot mineral waters in the area. Buildings of interest in Cekirge, include the Mosque and Mausoleum of Murat I and the tomb of Suleyman Celebi, a religious poet. The monument to Karagoz commemorates the character whose humorous antics are immortalized in Turkish shadow puppet theater.

Thirty-six km from Bursa is Uludag, the largest center for winter sports in Turkey, a variety of activities, accommodation and entertainment. The slopes are easily reached by car or cable car (teleferik). December to May is the best time for skiing, although the neighboring Uludag National Park, is well worth a visit at any time of the year for the lovely views and wonderful fresh air.


A seaside resort town 25 km from Bursa, Mudanya’s fine fish restaurants and nightclubs are popular with the residents of Bursa. The Armistice Museum is also worth a visit. just 12 km from Mudanya, Zeytinbagi (Tirilye) exemplifies the architecture and layout of a typical Turkishtown.

The Gulf of Gemlik, 29 km from Bursa has wide sandy beaches, of which Armutlu and Kumla are the favorites.

Olive Oil
Olive Oil

The province of Balikesir borders both the Marmara and Aegean regions. In the capital of Balikesir, interesting historical sites harmoniously blend with nature. The mid-14th centuryYildirim Mosque, built by Beyazit 1, is the city’s oldest mosque. The Zagnos Pasa Mosque, built in 1461 by and named for the Grand Vizier of Mehmet the Conqueror, was once part of a great complex. Today only the mosque and bath remain. The Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower) built in 1827 by Mehmet Pasa is a smaller version of the Genoese Galata Tower. The Karesi Bey Mausoleum of 1336 contains the cenotaphs of Karesi Bey and his five sons. Also take in the artifacts from the area displayed in the newly completed Balikesir Museum (Kuva-i Milliye).

The beautiful Degirmen Bogazi, an area ten km from Balikesir towards Bursa, lies between two hills. On weekends and holidays families flock to this scenic spot and its restaurants atKarakol village photographers can capture three picturesque windmills. Ancient Penderamus now called Bandirma, is today an important commercial and industrial harbor second only to Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara. You can spend a pleasant afternoon in the town’s restaurants and cafes. Belkis (Kyzikos) lies ten km west of Bandirma. In this ancient city on the isthmus of the Kapidag Peninsula, the Temple of Hadrian, a theater and aqueducts still captivate visitors. The Kuscenneti National Park near Lake Manyas is an ornithological site where 239 different species of birds flourish. Every year, over three million birds fly through this preserve. April and May are the best months to enjoy the wildlife. Thirteen km southeast of Bandirma in Karacabey, horse farms breed magnificent specimens of this beloved animal.

Manyas Kus Cenneti, National Park, Balikesir
Manyas Kus Cenneti, National Park, Balikesir

Once known as ancient Erteka, Erdek is just 14 km northwest of Bandirma. One of the oldest and most famous resort areas on the Sea of Marmara, it offers pristine beaches and every type of accommodation.

Marmara Island, formerly known as Prokonessos, rose to prominence in the Roman period and retained its importance in the Byzantine and Ottoman periods thanks to the marble quarries, which supplied the stone for extravagant imperial building programs.

Manyas Kus Cenneti, National Park, Balikesir
Manyas Kus Cenneti, National Park, Balikesir

Near Saraylar village, Marble Beach derives its name from the natural marble that lies just off the water’s edge. In town, an open-air museum displays artifacts which date back to the Roman and Byzantine eras. At the marble quarry you can witness every step of the quarrying process.

Turkeli (Avsa) is another resort island that boasts of spectacular beaches and clear water as well as famous vineyards and wine cellars. In the Manastir district stands the Byzantine Meryem Ana Monastery.

Cunta Island, Ayvalik Balikesir

Fifty-five km southwest of Bandirma is Gonen, Turkey’s most important thermal resort. That the springs were used even in Roman times is testified to by a fifth-century mosaic from what was originally a Roman bath. The waters come from 500 m below the ground, emerge at approximately 82C. Another 30 km to the northwest, Denizkent is a nice vacation spot with lovely beaches.

Sindirgi lies at the base of the Alacam Mountains amid beautiful forests and meadows in a region known for the weaving of superb Turkish carpets. The rugs of Yagcibedir are among the most prized in the country, growing more lovely with age. Around the Gulf of Edremit, also in Balikesir province, are some of the most beautiful coastlines in the country where clear waters meet sandy beaches which are encircled by the silvery green olive groves. Ayvalik, Burhaniye, Oren, Edremit, Akcay and Altinoluk are all resort towns which attract vacationers interested in a relaxing holiday with beautiful scenery and a wealth of historic and archeological sites.

Canakkale Walls

The city of Canakkale lies at the narrow, 1,200 meter entrance to the Canakkale Strait (theDardanelles) that connects the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean. Passenger and car ferries run daily between Canakkale on the Asian side and Eceabat and Kilitbahir on the European side. Yachts navigating the straits stop at the well-equipped Canakkale Marina to allow tourists more time in the area. Hotels, restaurants-and cafes along the promenade, offer a place to enjoy the traffic in the harbor, as well as a view of the Kilitbahir Fortress and the Canakkale Archeological Museum.

In 1451, Sultan Mehmet 11, later the conqueror of Istanbul, built one fortress on the European side of the Canakkale Strait at Kilitbahir and one on the opposite shore at Cimenlik to control the passage of ships through the strait. Today the Cimenlik fortress serves as a military museum dedicated to the World War I Battle of Canakkale.

Adatepe, Canakkale

Gelibolu Peninsula Historical National Park was established to honor the 500,000 soldiers who gave their lives on Gelibolu, also known as Gallipoli. In 1915, MustafaKemal, commander of the Turkish army, led a successful campaign to drive out allied powers from the area. The park includes memorials, monuments, cemeteries, amid the natural beauty of theAriburnu Cliffs and Tuz Golu (Salt Lake). The beauty of the green hills, sandy beaches and blue waters provides an honorable resting place for the soldiers who bravely fought and died in this historic battle. You cannot help but sense the heart of the Turkish nation in the patriotic spirit of the place.

Assos (Behramkale)

The largest of the Turkish islands, Gokceada is ringed with pristine bays. Its hills, covered with pine and olive trees, are dotted with sacred springs and monasteries. Regularly scheduled ferries make the trip from Canakkale and Kabatepe. In August, islanders and tourists gather for colorful local fairs.

As you approach Bozcaada Island, the Venetian castle commands your attention. Then your eyes are drawn to the glistening white houses and the restaurants and cafes which line the promenade. Wine seems as plentiful as water on this island and the consequence of numerous vineyards and wine cellars. There are good sandy beaches at Ayazma, Poyraz and Igdelik.

3 Responses to “THE MARMARA REGION”

  1. İğneada Turkey Attractions Events Photo Gallery Says:

    […] the northern most tip of the Marmara Region, the last shore to be washed by the waters of the Black Sea, Igneada is a hidden Garden of Eden […]

  2. Outdoor Sports in Turkey information Says:

    […] are over 1,000 thermal springs in Turkey most are located in Marmara and the Aegean regions. People come to enjoy the many resorts built around the springs and heal […]

  3. Bursa | Turkey Travel Guide and Touristic Regions information Says:

    […] Bursa whose name comes from Purissias, the King of antique Bithynia is a large city center located at north east of Uludag. This city which is renowned with its hot water spas is at the same time a significant center of winter sports of Marmara Region. […]

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