Thursday, 15 January 2009

Eskişehir

Eskişehir (meaning old city) is located on the banks of the river Porsuk in north-western Turkey in Eskişehir province on the main road and rail route between Ankara and Istanbul. Eskişehir is currently largely ignored by western tourists (although has a thriving tourist industry of visitors coming from the east) presumably due to its landlocked location and sometimes harsh climatical conditions. However Eskişehir is truly one of the gems of central Turkey, the city itself is very modern and beautiful and offers a range of eateries, shopping destinations, Turkish baths, nargile houses, museums and Ottoman architecture. The two universities give the cosmopolitan city a lively and youthful vibe; it’s a fantastic destination for foodies as the quality of the restaurants here is very high. The city has a few local delicacies including helva, boza and my personal favourite çiğ börek, a fine pastry mixture filled with ground meat, spices and onions then pan fried in hot oil and chased down with a glass of ayran, perfect!
In recent years Eskişehir has been rapidly modernising and every time I return there are more improvements such as the relatively new tram system and the parks popping up left right and centre, one of which has an artificial beach complete with sun loungers and changing cabins, which has been constructed on a small part of the redirected river Porsuk. The bath houses of Eskişehir are famous due to the hot drinkable spring water that is reported to cure, or ease many aliments. The city has a long history of “thermal tourism” whereby people have travelled specifically to experience the waters curative properties.
Near the centre of the city you will also find the Odunpazari quarter with its charming traditional Turkish architecture and old Ottoman style buildings. Outside the city in Eskişehir province you can’t take a step without tripping over some fantastically interesting historical goodies be it the recently restored headquarters of the Turkish war of independence at İnönü or any of the countless Phrygian, Hittite, Assyrian and Roman settlements including the tomb of king Midas and the village of Nasreddin Hoca. The area around Eskişehir is literally teeming with areas of archaeological and historical interest.

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