The top things to see and do in Edirne, Turkey!
The more I fall in love with Turkey, the more I discover quirky new places to see that no guidebook will tell you about. Edirne, in the Thrace region, is one of these outrageously overlooked cities which you should definitely visit.
Read through and check out my favourite spots in Edirne - I'm sure you'll agree that it's worth your time!
1. The Complex of Sultan Bayezid II Health Museum
Hey - aren't museums supposed to be boring? Not the Sultan Bayezid II Health Museum, a centuries old complex and one of the world's leading hospitals of its time. Patients with mental illnesses were treated by using the sound of water, music and aromatherapy, and a general feeling of tranquility.
Strolling around the complex today is just as serene an experience as it was in the 1400s, especially on a warm winter's day. You can find the complex around 2km away from the city centre - a perfectly walkable distance, or get there by bus.
2. The Grand Synagogue of Edirne
Another thing you rarely hear about Turkey is its diversity. In Edirne alone, we visited mosques, Catholic Orthodox churches and synagogues - more specifically, the most stunning synagogue I've ever visited. The Grand Synagogue has recently been restored after years of disrepair, and today it's home to a tight-knit Jewish community in Edirne. It's deceptively simple from the outside, but inside you'll find beautiful architecture and design.
A must see in Edirne for sure!
3. The Sveti Georgi Church
This Orthodox church has somehow survived in Edirne for over 100 years, despite its dwindling numbers of faithful. Today it is open for worship, but you'll have to knock on its imposing doors for the curator to open for you! Be polite and leave a donation for his troubles, the Bulgarian iconography on display is well worth it.
4. Karaagac Train Station
Possibly my favourite landmark in all of Edirne, this is no ordinary train station. In the old days, when rails were the swiftest way to get around, this stop connected Istanbul to mainland Europe. Today, the building has been converted into a faculty branch of Thrace's University, although you can still have a peek around!
The rails are still there, and a train waits patiently for the day when its engines will be made to roar again. While you're in the area, have a spot of coffee in one of the simple bars nearby - this is where Agatha Christie found the inspiration to write her legendary novel Murder on the Orient Express, a staple in any bookworm's library (cough)!
Walking back from Karaagac, you'll cross a large stone bridge. This is Meric Bridge, one of Edirne's oldest constructions and a city landmark. For some reason, it's the most popular bridge in town, and many good restaurants have sprouted nearby.
Whilst pretty, Meric remains, well, a bridge, but I do recommend having dinner here, overlooking the twinkling city and the quiet river.
6. Selimiye Mosque
What can I say about this stunning architectural masterpiece? The Selimiye mosque is Istanbul's Blue Mosque's little sister, housing thousands of faithfuls and an equally large number of admirers. From the courtyard to its intricate domed ceilings, its lights and the stunning Iznik tiles, you cannot miss out on this experience.
As always in religious places, be respectful and mindful of others - no one will annoy you if you don't annoy anyone else!
So, have I convinced you to visit Edirne yet? Let me know your favourite Turkish spots - I'd love to know all about them!