Edirne, the city of history and culture
The northwestern province of Edirne, with its Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex, Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival, historical Uzunköprü bridge and the Sultan Bayezid II Complex, attracts thousands of local and foreign tourists every year.
The city’s Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex, which stands exemplary in defining the Turkish-Islamic works, bears ornamental features such as stone, marble, tile, wooden, and nacre along with its magnificent architectural features. It entered the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 2011.
One can bask in the glory of the four minarets adorning the Selimiye Mosque, which was built between 1569 and 1575 on the order of Ottoman Sultan Selim II, in the vicinity of Edirne.
Connecting Anatolia and the Balkans on the Ergene River, Uzunköprü, the world’s longest historic stone bridge, was built between 1426 and 1443 by the chief architect, Müslihiddin, during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Murat II. Being 1,392 meters in length and 6.80 meters in width, Uzunköprü stands as an important historical heritage of the city.
While Uzunköprü got inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Tentative List in 2015 due to its magnificent historical importance, another site Sultan Bayezid II Mosque Complex also got included in this list the following year.
Located on the north shore of the Tunca River in Edirne, and getting its name after the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II, the complex served as a place that consisted of a mosque, several guest houses, a medical school, pharmacy, hospital, an almshouse, and food-storage areas of the period. Sultan Bayezid II Mosque Complex, which is now a museum where one can witness well witness its golden days, is among the works that continue to be an attractive area with the UNESCO label.
Kırkpınar, a legend of bravery
One thing that cannot go unnoticed is Edirne’s Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival, which is marked as “the legend of wrestling” with its unique rituals. Representing the Turkish traditions that amuse the onlookers with its extraordinary moves that wrestlers play to tussle head on head in the competition, it entered the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List of Humanity in 2010.
The historical Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival stands out as a cultural element that attracts tourists to the city every year, although, keeping in line with COVID-19 measures, this year the festival could not be conducted.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, UNESCO Turkey National Committee Chairperson Oğuz Mehmet Öcalan said that Edirne, with its historical and cultural structure, was one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey.
Stating that the city stands out in terms of tourism, especially with its Selimiye Mosque along with Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival, Sultan Beyazıd II Complex and Uzunköprü bridge, Oğuz said that the city has come to be known all over the world after entering the UNESCO list.
Noting that visual heritage stands vital in terms of the recognition and tourism potential of cities, Oğuz said, “Therefore, those who will travel to a city look at the UNESCO list, which is a great guide for the tourism of the countries, a great recommendation mechanism.”
“There may be tens of thousands of heritages of outstanding universal value in the world, UNESCO does not undertake to protect or restore all of them. It supports and advises the country to preserve this heritage,” he added.