An Idyllic Daycation from Istanbul
Breaking up the city sightseeing with some day trips from Istanbul is a good way of escaping the hustle and bustle for a while and exploring a different side of Turkish life. Here's one suggestion; Bursa's off the beaten path: Mudanya & Trilye.
Mudanya was founded in the 7th century BC by immigrants from Kolofon, one of the 12 big cities of Ionia.
Located on the Gulf of Gemlik, Mudanya has served as a port city for centuries. The town’s claim to fame is as where the armistice was signed. The armistice on October 11, 1922, has been a milestone in Turkish Republican history, for it established the victory of the Republican armies and the concession of Greece and its European allies France, Great Britain and Italy. Visit Mudanya Armistice House Museum (Mütareke Evi) and monument for more details and to sniff the history.
Built back in 1724, Tahir Paşa Mansion’s six floors served as public library for a long while, until being handed over to Municipality of Mudanya in 2012. adorned with engraved flowers, this rare building from Tulip Period now serves as a museum under custody of Mudanya Municipality. Belongings of Tahir Pasha, such as French chandelier in form of duck, handmade clock with beaten silver dial, were brought back from France and are on display. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Tahir Ağa Culture Center and turkish bath in downtown.
The 19th century Apostoloi Church (Aydınpınar Kilisesi) was transformed into a mosque, its belfry employed as minaret, after the proclamation of the republic. Despite being in bad shape, wooden engravings, motifs and original leaded glasses still offer a visual feast, while some walls display hand-carved prayers and verses.
Former Mudanya Train Station was built back in 1849 by the French as customs warehouse. As a part of Ottoman project of Asian Railways aiming a main line between Istanbul and Baghdad, a line between Bursa and Mudanya was to be established. The building then was converted to a train station. The rail line was operationalized in its second attempt, though. The railway not being connected to other lines and the journey taking too long (because of somehow constructed on slopes) led to the fall of the train line. In the late 1980s, the building was restored and transformed into Montania Hotel. The hotel’s Wagon Cafe is pretty nostalgic. You can ask to visit around or opt for a coffee or a stay.
The Orthodox Church in downtown Mudanya today serves as Uğur Mumcu Culture Center. The church lost its function as a place of worship following the departure of Greeks from Mudanya after the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. It even served as movie theater for some time in between. Weird, isn’t it?
Dereköy Church, defying time in Mudanya was named after “Potamia,” which means “creek” in Greek. Built back in 1857, it served as a mosque to Muslims coming from Thessaloniki and nearby Drama, Kavala, Yanya, Karacaova, Langaza and Crete as of 1924. The building, standing out with its plaster and wooden ornaments, unfortunately is left to its own devices currently.
Don’t forget to wander around the historical Greek neighborhood and gaze at the colorful lovely houses, with amazing sea view accompanying you.
Located within the province of Bursa, the seaside village of Trilye is 12 kilometers west of Mudanya on a winding seaside road. The easy transportation option from Istanbul, just a ferry ride plus a 20 minute bus ride, makes this citta slow nominee, in fact, quite attractive.
Originally a Greek fishing village dating back to 5th century BC, the town is also known by its Turkish name, Zeytinbağı (“olive yard”), a name that pays tribute to the olive orchards that blanket the hillsides surrounding the village. The original name Trilye is believed to come from either the famous local red mullet fish, called Trigleia, or the three priests excommunicated and exiled here.
During its golden age as one of the many integral ports, apart from fishing, the town’s source of income was silk trade as well. Today it’s replaced mostly by olives.
Trilye’s fascinating Ottoman and Byzantine architecture as well as its colorful old Greek houses from the 19th-century make it noteworthy to wander this so-called open air museum.
The most famous of the iconic houses are the Coffin (or Deck) House and Haunted House, that stand opposite each other. The Old Post Office is a good model to have been restorated and well-kept with stone bottom and wooden upper part.
The town’s most important structure, the Byzantine Haghioi Theodoroi Church was an 8th-century Byzantine church dedicated to Saint Theodore before it was converted into Fatih Mosque following the conquests of the Ottomans.
Built in a markedly neo-classical style in 1907, The Zarifeion School (Taş Mektep) served as an orphanage, a boarding school, a primary and a secondary school in the years following. Currently idle, the magnifient building is expected to go under restoration for a culture center.
St. Basil’s Church (Aziz Vasil Kilisesi) was built in 1878 and turned into a dining hall of The Zarifeion School. After its restoration in 2009, today it serves as Faruk Çelik Culture Center.
Panagia Pantobasilissa Church (Kemerli Kilise) is known to be the very first church ever where the walls were decorated with frescos. Different layers of frescos date back to 14th & 18th centuries. It is believed that the columns were brought from Alexandria.
Hagios Ioannes Greek Church (Dündar Evi) has been transferred to private property status after the exchange agreement. A Cretan businessman has tried converting it into a hotel but given up and put it up for sale.
Swallow's Nest (Tarihi Çamlı Kahve) lies on a high hill past the Zarifeion School and is referred as the balcony of Trilye. This area is currently used as a teahouse and overlooks the sea, olive orchards and the beautiful scenery from the top under pine trees.
While in Trilye, also make sure to visit the Kapanca Port, which dates back to the Roman era. It was an important port for exporting the goods produced in the fertile lands to the center of the Byzantine Empire. It is known that the Genoese have used Trilye and Apemeia (Mudanya) ports for transporting the salt extracted from the northern part of the Appolonia Lake.
Before leaving Trilye, make sure to try fish and the locally produced olives, olive oils, and olive soaps for sale in many shops and booths.
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