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Edirne (US: /eɪˈdɪərnə, ɛˈ-/, Turkish: [eˈdiɾne]), historically known as Adrianople (/ˌeɪdriəˈnoʊpəl/; Latin: Hadrianopolis; Ancient Greek: Ἁδριανούπολις, romanized: Hadrianoúpolis; Modern Greek: Αδριανούπολη, romanized: Adrianoúpoli; Bulgarian: Одрин, romanized: Odrin; founded by the Roman emperor Hadrian on the site of a previous Thracian settlement named Uskudama), is a city in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne in the region of East Thrace, close to Turkey’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria. Edirne served as the third capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1369 to 1453, before Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) became the empire’s fourth and final capital between 1453 and 1922. The city’s estimated population in 2014 was 165,979.
The city was founded as Hadrianopolis (Ἁδριανούπολις in Greek), named after the Roman emperor Hadrian. This name is still used in the modern Greek language (Αδριανούπολη, Adrianoúpoli). The Turkish name Edirne derives from the Greek name. The name Adrianople was used in English until the Turkish adoption of the Latin alphabet in 1928 made Edirne the internationally recognized name. Bulgarian: Одрин, romanized: Odrin (pronounced [ˈɔdrin]), Albanian: Edrenë, Slovene: Odrin and Serbian: Једрене, romanized: Jedrene, are adapted forms of the name Hadrianopolis or of its Turkish version; see also its other names.
The area around Edirne has been the site of numerous major battles and sieges, from the days of the ancient Greeks. The vagaries of the border region between Asia and Europe gives rise to Edirne’s historic claim to be the most frequently contested spot on the globe.
In Greek mythology, Orestes, son of king Agamemnon, built this city as Orestias, at the confluence of the Tonsus (Toundja) and the Ardiscus (Arda) with the Hebrus (Maritza). The city was (re)founded eponymously by the Roman Emperor Hadrian on the site of a previous Thracian settlement known as Uskadama, Uskudama, Uskodama or Uscudama. It was the capital of the Bessi, or of the Odrysians. Hadrian developed it, adorned it with monuments, changed its name to Hadrianopolis (which would be corrupted into Adrianopolis, Anglicised as Adrianople), and made it the capital of the Roman province of Thrace. Licinius was defeated there by Constantine I in 323, and Emperor Valens was killed by the Goths in 378 during the Battle of Adrianople (378).
During the existence of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, the Crusaders were decisively defeated by the Bulgarian Emperor Kaloyan in the Battle of Adrianople (1205). In 1206 Adrianople and its territory was given to the Byzantine aristocrat Theodore Branas as a hereditary fief by the Latin regime. Theodore Komnenos, Despot of Epirus, took possession of it in 1227, but three years later was defeated at Klokotnitsa by Emperor Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria.
In 1361, the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Murad I invaded Thrace. Murad captured Adrianople, probably in 1369 (the date is disputed). The city became “Edirne” in Turkish, reflecting the Turkish pronunciation. Murad moved the Ottoman capital to Adrianople. Mehmed the Conqueror (Sultan Mehmed II) was born in Adrianople, where he fell under the influence of some Hurufis dismissed by Taş Köprü Zade in the Şakaiki Numaniye as “Certain accursed ones of no significance“, who were burnt as heretics by a certain Mahmud Pasha.
Edirne is famed for its many mosques, domes, minarets, and palaces from the Ottoman period.
Sultan Mehmed IV left the palace in Constantinople and died in Adrianople in 1693.
Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, lived in Edirne from 1863 to 1868. He was exiled there by the Ottoman Empire before being banished further to the Ottoman penal colony in Akka. He referred to Adrianople in his writings as the “Land of Mystery”.
Adrianople was a sanjak centre during the Ottoman period and was bound to, successively, the Rumeli Eyalet and Silistre Eyalet before becoming a provincial capital of the Eyalet of Edirne at the beginning of the 19th century; until 1878, the Eyalet of Adrianople comprised the sanjaks of Edirne, Tekfurdağı, Gelibolu, Filibe, and İslimye.
Adrianople was briefly occupied by imperial Russian troops in 1829 during the Greek War of Independence and in 1878 during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. The city suffered a fire in 1905. In 1905 it had about 80,000 inhabitants, of whom 30,000 were Turks; 22,000 Greeks; 10,000 Bulgarians; 4,000 Armenians; 12,000 Jews; and 2,000 more citizens of unclassified ethnic/religious backgrounds.
Adrianople was a vital fortress defending Ottoman Constantinople and Eastern Thrace during the Balkan Wars of 1912–13. It was briefly occupied by the Bulgarians in 1913, following the Siege of Adrianople. The Great Powers–Britain, Italy, France, and Russia–forced the Ottoman Empire to cede Adrianople to Bulgaria at the end of First Balkan War, which created a political scandal in the Ottoman government in Constantinople (as Adrianople was a former capital of the Empire), leading to the 1913 Ottoman coup d’état. Although it was victorious in the coup, the Committee of Union and Progress was unable to keep Adrianople, but under Enver Pasha (who proclaimed himself the “second conqueror of Adrianople”, after Murad I), it was retaken from the Bulgarians soon after the Second Balkan War began.
It was occupied by the Greeks between the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 and their defeat at the end of the Greco-Turkish War, also known as the Western Front of the larger Turkish War of Independence, in 1922.
Adrianople became known in Western languages as “Edirne” circa 1930.
According to the 2007 census, Edirne Province had a population of 382,222 inhabitants. The city is a commercial centre for woven textiles, silks, carpets and agricultural products.
Adrianople was made the seat of a Greek metropolitan and of an Armenian bishop. Adrianople is also the centre of a Bulgarian diocese, but not recognized and deprived of a bishop. The city also had some Protestants. The Latin Catholics, foreigners for the most part, and not numerous, were dependent on the vicariate-apostolic of Constantinople. At Adrianople itself were the parish of St. Anthony of Padua (Minors Conventual) and a school for girls conducted by the Sisters of Charity of Agram. In the suburb of Karaağaç were a church (Minor Conventuals), a school for boys (Assumptionists) and a school for girls (Oblates of the Assumption). Each of its mission stations, at Tekirdağ and Alexandroupoli, had a school (Minor Conventuals), and there was one at Gallipoli (the Assumptionists).
Around 1850, from the standpoint of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Adrianople was the residence of a Bulgarian vicar-apostolic for the 4,600 Eastern Catholics of the Ottoman vilayet (province) of Thrace and after 1878 – of the principality of Bulgaria. They had 18 parishes or missions, 6 of which were in the principality, with 20 churches or chapels, 31 priests, of whom 6 were Assumptionists and 6 were Resurrectionists; 11 schools with 670 pupils. In Adrianople itself were only a very few United Bulgarians, with an Episcopal church of St. Elias, and the churches of St. Demetrius and Sts. Cyril and Methodius. The last is served by the Resurrectionists, who have also a college of 90 pupils. In the suburb of Karaağaç, the Assumptionists have a parish and a seminary with 50 pupils. Besides the Eastern Catholic Bulgarians, the above statistics included the Greek Catholic missions of Malgara (now Malkara) and Daoudili (now Davuteli village in Malkara), with 4 priests and 200 faithful, because from the civil point of view belonged to the Bulgarian Vicariate.
Later however, the Roman Catholic diocese was discontinued, and exists only in name as a titular metropolitan archbishopric, under the full name Hadrianopolis in Haemimonto to distinguish it from several other titular sees named Hadrianopolis.
Points of interest
Situated 7 km (4.3 mi) near the Greek and 20 km (12 mi) Bulgarian borders, Edirne is famed for its many mosques, domes and minarets. The Selimiye Mosque, built in 1575 and designed by Turkey’s greatest master architect, Mimar Sinan (c. 1489/1490–1588), is one of the most important monuments in the city. It has the highest minarets in Turkey, at 70.90 m (232.6 ft) and a cupola 3 or 4 ft (0.91 or 1.22 m) higher than that of Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine Orthodox Cathedral (now museum) in Istanbul. Carrying the name of the then reigning Ottoman Sultan Selim II (r. 1566–1574), this mosque futures Turkish marble handicrafts, and it is covered with valuable tiles and fine paintings. Other notable mosques are Eski Cami (Old Mosque), and Burmalı Cami (Serpent Mosque), aka Üç Şerefeli Mosque.
Edirne has three historic covered bazaars: Arasta, next to Selimiye Mosque, Bedesten next to Eski Cami and Ali Paşa Çarşısı (Ali Pasha Bazaar).
Besides the mosques, there are visitor attractions in Edirne, all reflecting its rich past. The most prominent place being the Edirne Palace (Ottoman Turkish: Saray-ı Cedid-i Amire for “New Imperial Palace”) in Sarayiçi quarter, built during the reign of Murad II (r. 1421–1444). Although the buildings of the palace and its bath (Kum Kasrı Hamamı) are in ruined form, the palace gate and the palace kitchen facility are restored. The Kasr-ı Adalet (“Justice Castle”), built as part of the palace complex, stands intact next to the small Fatih Bridge over the Tunca river.
There are caravansaries, like the Rustem Pasha and Ekmekcioglu Ahmet Pasha caravansaries, which were designed to host travelers, in the 16th century.
The historic Karaağaç railway station hosts today, after redevelopment, the Trakya University‘s Faculty of Fine Arts in Karaağaç suburb of Edirne. Next to it, the Treaty of Lausanne Monument and Museum are situated.
The traditional oil-wrestling tournament called Kırkpınar, is held every year in late June or early July. Kakava, an international festival celebrating the Roma people is held on 5 May each year.
Edirne is well known for local dishes. “Ciğer tava” (breaded and deep-fried liver) is often served with a side of cacık, a cool dish of diluted strained yogurt with chopped cucumber. Also, locally-made marzipan, which has a different recipe from standard marzipan, is one of traditional desserts of Edirne.
Handmade brooms with a mirror in them are one of the cultural images of the city and a central marriage tradition. Miniature versions are still sold in gift shops.