Nature has been generous to İznik, which is beautifully situated around the east end of Lake İznik. You can swim (though the water can be chilly), picnic, or watch the sun set over the lake, and you can also soak in centuries of history and witness the city’s legendary tile-making tradition, in full revival today.
An important city in early Christian history, İznik (known in ancient times as Nicaea) was the site of the First and Second Councils of Nicaea, which drew up the Nicene Creed that outlines the basic principles of Christianity and set the church’s stance on iconography. The city was put on the map in 316 BC, when one of Alexander the Great's generals claimed it. The Seljuks made the city their capital for a brief period in the 11th century, and Byzantine emperors-in-exile did the same in the 13th century, when Constantinople was in the hands of Crusaders. The Ottomans captured the city in 1331, and İznik became famous for its production of colorful tiles, unequaled even today. This long history is reflected in the collection of the İznik Museum, which at the time of this writing was closed for renovations.