A day’s Visit to the Great Synagogue in Edirne, Turkey.
**Privately organized by UTS-United Travel Services DMC,Turkey**
ISTANBUL / EDIRNE / ISTANBUL
At 8 am, UTS-United Travel’s English speaking private lecturer/guide will meet you at the lobby of your hotel in Istanbul for departure by a/c vehicle to the city of Edirne (approx. 2,5 – 3 hours, driving distance from IST) - a historical rich town whose architecture reflects its fascinating historical heritage. Situated in between the Greek and Bulgarian border of Turkey, Edirne is an untouched gem of our mosaic of cultures. It is Turkey’s “Best-Kept Secret”, a fabulous town where one can walk from the masterpiece of one architectural era of the Ottoman Empire to the local lifestyle of modern times.
The city was founded in the II century by Hadrian as Hadrianopolis. The Ottomans captured it from the Byzantines in 1363 and established their capital city moving it from the previous capital of Bursa.
In Edirne, the Eski (Old) Mosque (1414) is a perfect square in architectural style divided into nine domed sections by four massive piers. It is very Seljuk in character and is an elaborate version of the Ulu Mosque in Bursa, famous for its huge works of calligraphy- The Uc Serefeli Mosque (1447) replaced the Eski Mosque, as Edirne’s chief place of worship as soon as it was completed. Its dome of 79 feet was the largest built by the Ottomans up to that time.
To impart a sense of space, the architect used only two freestanding columns, burying the four others of his hexagon in the walls - a major innovation of the time.
In addition to numerous mosques, fountains, bridges, schools, hospitals from the rise of the Ottoman Empire, in the 13th century, the very masterpiece of Ottoman Civilization, the ‘Selimiye Mosque’ is built here in Edirne and not in Istanbul. This grand edifice is one of the supreme human achievements in the whole history of architecture in the world. It is the last masterpiece of the Ottoman Architect Sinan that he built at the age of 85 as his last gift to the world of Ottoman Culture.
Lunch will be served at a celebrated local restaurant with its special & famous Turkish dishes, exclusive to “Edirne cuisine”.
Continue to visit the Rustem Pasa Caravanserai and the lively restored Arasta Bazaar and Bedesten Bazaar, for local souvenirs.
As the highlight of the day, visit the Grand Synagogue of Edirne, which is the biggest Sephardic Synagogue in the whole region of the Balkans, (The 3nd largest synagogue of Europe.) that was restored by the Republic of Turkey-Foundations’ General Directorate, in 5 years and opened to public visit on 26 March 2015, with a major celebration attended by the Turkish Prime Minister’s Delegation and the Chief Rabbi of Turkey together with his congregation from Istanbul.
As for the historical background of the majestic EDIRNE Synagogue, the 1903 the Great Fire of Edirne destroyed more than 1,500 houses and also damaged several synagogues in the city. The twenty-thousand strong Jewish communities there needed urgently a place of worship. Following the support of the Ottoman Empire Government and the Edict of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the construction of a new synagogue began on January 6, 1906 at the site of the ruined synagogues in Edirne. It was designed by the French architect France Depré in the architectural model of Sephardi Leopoldstädter Tempel in Vienna, Austria, at the Cost 1,200 gold coins. It was opened to service on the eve of Pesach (Passover) in April 1909. The Synagogue can accommodate up to 1,200 visitors at once today, in Turkey.
At the end of your private tour, you will be driven back to your hotel in Istanbul, escorted by your dedicated bilingual guide, with fond memories of your day in Edirne.
Additional link to Edirne Synagogu: