Thrace and Marmara

The Roman province of Trakya (Thrace) is separated from the rest of Türkiye by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardenelle Straits. Edirne, lying close to the borders of Greece and Bulgaria, is best known for the masterpieces of local architectMimar Sinan, with wonderful examples from the Ottoman Empire. The area is also famous for the lush rolling fields, filled with vineyards and sunflowers grown for their seeds and oil. The cities in this region are Balikesir, Bilecik, Bursa, Canakkale,Edirne, Istanbul, Kirklareli, Kocaeli, Sakarya,Tekirdag and Yalova.

The Marmara region has a turbulent past. In 481 BC the second Persian War, the Persian King Xerxes made a bridge of boats over the Dardanelle Straits between Abydos and Sestos. In the same location is the infamous love affair of Leander and Hera, whowere buried in the waters of the strait. And it was here that Mustafa Kemal won the first big victory against enemy forces in World War I, and the war graves and battlegrounds of Gelibolu are visited by thousands of tourists every year.

The lively city of Izmit with its fruit orchards and vegetable gardens is now an industrial centre, and nearby Hereke is famous for its carpets. To the south is Iznik, renowned during Ottoman times for its glazed tiles which adorned the mosques andtombs, and its great Byzantine city walls. Bursa, the land of silk, was the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire and birthplace of modern Turkish culture. The mosques, like Yesil Came and Ulu Cami, are some of the most important and beautiful inthe country. The country's first ski resort was built on the mountain of Uludag, lying to the south of the city.

Tekirdag, with beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture and broad beaches, is known for its vineyards and wine festivals. To the north is Gonen with its famous thermal springs, and the commercial port of Bandirma which is the biggest in theMarmara sea after Istanbul. Near the city and by Lake Manyas is Kuscenneti (Bird Heaven) National Park with 239 species of birds, many of which migrate from Europe and Asia during the summer, and fly south before the winter.

One the shores of the Marmara Sea are a whole host of beautiful beaches and holiday resorts, including Cinarcik, Armutlu, Gemlik, Mudanya, Erdek, the Marmara and Avsa Islands, Denizkent, Sarkoy and Silivri. To the west is Yalova, a site famous for itsthermal springs.