Edirne’s Kervansaray

October 28, 2007

The Selimiye is the major landmark in Edirne but the Eski Cami to the west on the main thoroughfare cannot be missed. To its west the bedesten, completed in 1418 by Mehmet l, still functions as a covered bazaar.  Heading south is a tea garden followed by Rüstem Paşa’s kervansaray across the street. The area is a bustle of shops and restaurants, and one can imagine it was the same in Sinan’s day. This is probably why Rüstem chose the area for his building; he could envision a profit after the expenses of his kervansaray. 

Renovated about 1965, the kervansaray received the Ağa Khan Architectural Award recognizing the preservation of this important structure. The rental spaces fronting the north façade again house thriving businesses as does the interior with the hotel and restaurant-bar. This gives access to the small as well as large courtyard for a view of much of Sinan’s design, but first walk around the exterior to see the fortress like structure of the other walls.

Facing the stores one notices the curve in the façade.  An amusing story relates Sinan’s desire to preserve an exceptionally beautiful old plane tree. True or not, this feature certainly turns what could have been a boring row of shops into one of architectural interest.  There are many more details in this building worth mentioning but discovering them on ones own is part of the fun of traveling.  See you there.

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Edirne

September 21, 2007

 Edirne goats

While considering a trip to the Ottoman’s second capital, Edirne, I think back to 1999 when I first visited the antique town. It is unforgetable, that first view of the magnificent Selimiye Mosque dominating the skyline. Those sixteenth century Ottoman travelers surely marveled at that grand sight Sinan created as they slowly made their way to town.

One can experience that same awe by traversing the berm to the west that protects the old Edirne from the annual flooding of the Tunca River. Beside the river are expanses of grass intermingled with small vegetable gardens and a variety of trees that begin the dream of Sinan’s day. Topping the berm, a gentle curving, dirt path establishes the atmosphere of those years long past with the dusty evidence of the various farm animals sometimes seen walking along the route. To the east below sit the rustic houses adjoining the many cobblestoned lanes meandering up to Sinan’s mosque crowning the far hill , the “hub” of the berm, for it always seems to be the same distance from the traveler walking the path.

How could this scene be any better I wonder as I amble along. It can’t! As long as modern buildings don’t compete with the scale and grandeur of this treasure by the Ottoman master architect, the Selimiye’s position is established as the jewel of Edirne, and will impress future generations.