Dec, 30 || 14 Comments | Tags: Adalet Kasrı, Balkan Savaşları Anıtı, Edirne Palace, Edirne Sarayi, Er Meydanı, Justice Tower, Kırkpınar, Sarayiçi, Tunca Nehri
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Sarayiçi (Eng: Inner Palace) is actually an island surrounded by two branches of Tunca river. It was once the private hunting reserve of the Ottoman sultans. Today it’s the site of the famous Kırkpınar oil wrestling matches, a Memorial for Balcan Wars and the left-overs from Edirne Palace.
A modern mini-stadium in which annual wrestling competitions take place, surrounded by some statues of champions of past years will welcome you to this island. Just next to the stadium, is the Justice Tower (Adalet Kasrı), a sturdy square tower built in 1561 by Suleyman the Magnificent and the sole completely intact remnant of former Imperial Palace / Edirne Palace of Ottomans here. It is said that Lawgiver Suleyman himself has written the laws in this tower. In front of it are two stones. On Stone of Respect (Seng-i Hürmet) people would place petitions to the sultan, while on Stone of Lesson (Seng-i İbret) would display the heads of any high-court officers who had offended the sultan.
Next to the Tower, a smaller bridge on the narrower branch of the river surrounded by some centuries-old ash trees will take you back to the mainland. Just after crossing the bridge, at the right side, about 50 metres away, is the monument to the soldiers fallen at the Siege of Edirne in 1913; Monument to the Martyrs of Balkan Wars (Balkan Savaşları Şehitliği). The monument itself, which is a recent construction with an older one hidden behind the bushes nearby, was built to commemorate World War I and previous battles. The site is actually mass grave of an estimated 30,000 soldiers, so appropriate respect should be shown.
Further away from the river is the ruins of a number of buildings of the former palace scattered around the fields, which had the unfortunate service as an arsenal during the siege of 1913, and had been blown up in order not to fall in hands of Bulgarians, the opposite side of the battle. Begun by Sultan Beyazıd II in 1450, this palace once rivalled Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace in size and in luxury. Although the place had lost the distinction of being a capital in 15th century, it was still the favourite summer retreat of Ottoman dynasty, featuring numerous hunting manors on the edges of the actual palace. Ruins are now undergoing a slow restoration, with the imperial kitchen has returned to its pre-1913 appearance recently. An illustration in front of the gate of the palace building, the only part of the building that escaped the blast, may help you envisage what the palace looked like.
How to get there: Walk form thew north corner of Selimiye Mosque down along Hatice Hatun Sokak, just 1km away. Or walk from Üç Şerefeli Mosque, along Hükümet Caddesi 1.3 km and cross the Tunca River on Saraçhane Köprüsü (Saddler’s Bridge); or head north on Mimar Sinan Caddesi and Saray Yolu, and cross the river on Saray Köprüsü (Palace Bridge; 1560) Upon crossing a long bridge over the river Tunca, you will arrive on an island surrounded by two branches of Tunca.
Alternatively, it’s a scenic 1km walk along the road to the north of the Tunca river from the Sultan Beyazıt II complex.