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otherchelebi May 8th, 2011 04:40 AM

Daytrip From istanbul: IZNIK (NICEA)
the first part of this thread is composed of Driving Directions.

you can also take an ferry from yenikapi to yalova and take a dolmus for the 60 kilometer route to iznik. The dolmus runs every hour on the hour and leaves next to the ferry landing.

If you are interested in roman and ottoman historic sites, tiles and life in a small Anatolian town, visit Iznik (Nicea)
renting a car for a day is the best idea to enjoy the route and the surronding area. This may be expensive but i would do it in your place.
- Ask to have the rental car delivered to yenikapi ferry landing at 7AM for the 7:30 Ferry, if you can. Delivery to your hotel will also work because there will be very little traffic at that early hour and the route from Sultanahmet or Taksim is easy.
- Ask your hotel reception to help you to get your ferry tickets by phone, 444 4436, the day before, including the return for the 7:30PM ferry, from and to YALOVA. You can buy by credit card, and swipe the same card through the machine at the booths to get your ticket,)
After landing, leave the landing through the underpass to go left, follow the main highway out of the town, streight through all intersections. Make sure not to exceed speed limit, as there are lots of radar on this stretch.
-20 kilometers will bring you to Orhangazi, where you check the road sign to turn left in the middle of the town at the traffic lights. Another 41 kilometers will bring you to Iznik. All together 50-60 minutes.
- For lunch, either eat at Yusuf Kofte on the main road through the city after the central roundabout, or one of the restaurants on the lake coast promenade.
- Visit the roman theatre, drive along the city walls, visit the historic tile kilns, the basilica, the hamam and the mosque built before the conquest of Istanbul.
- Get directions to drive up to the mausoleum on the hill behind the city for an excellent panoramic view of the town and the lake.
- Visit DARKA, 2 kilometers on the Yenisehir-Bursa highway, on your right, driving streight after the security, parking the car, walking to the lake side, and turning right to have something to drink at the restaurant, and maybe also bathe in the lake. (Let me know if you wish to do this and i will arrange for you to be allowed in DARKA)
On the way back, take a somewhat longer alternate scenic route:
- either, take a right at Boyalica village where the sign says Kizderbent/Karamursel, for a lovely 34 kilometer country road, to turn left at the highway at Karamursel for another 24 kilometers to Yalova fast ferry landing (all together about 75-90 minutes.)
- or take the Bursa road to drive on the Southern coast of the lake, more scenic, with some interesting former Greek villages on the way. This will also take about 75-90 minutes.

otherchelebi May 8th, 2011 04:44 AM

This part of the thread involves some impressionistic information on the town:

Iznik is an old town. It has withstood the onslaught of the ages behind its crumbling city walls. It is not a very friendly town, but has a few hotels and a plethora of struggling artists trying to paint Iznik designs on Kutahya porcelain and sell them to the not so willing to buy tourists, some of whom are usually packaged in Istanbul.

There are just a few restaurants, few fast food places, no beaches on the lake, but terrific sunsets, a very pleasant walking or biking lake shore, and antiquity reaching back some two thousand years. The walls, the amphitheatre, the tombs, the very old mosques, the original tile kilns, the hamam, the basilica, the nearby spa, and the modern development of beautifully landscaped small semidetached houses two kilometers on the highway to Bursa called ‘Darka’ are must sees.

You can walk everywhere within the city in just a couple of hours, wondering where the famous ecumenical councils took place so many, many years ago, and why did the crusaders, Arabs, Seljukis and Mongols ever bother with this tiny place.

Like most cities with not many visitors and not receiving migrations of industrial or agricultural workers, Iznik has no show-offs or new rich. It is possible that they still carry memories of feudal lords, occupying hordes and imperial tax collectors in their collective subconscious. Hence, there are no specially designed houses or gardens or shops, and all the inhabitants appear to lead a very simple life despite the rich orchards, the olive groves and the profuse vegetable production in the city environs.

It is also interesting to see that except for a few houses on the lake shore, the hospital, and a school, there are almost no buildings outside the original city walls. And, if you go to the mausoleum of the Arabic or the Turkish giant soldier of folk tales, on the hill behind Iznik, you will see the city in its entirety and take your photographs after making sure that you get a blessing from the tomb.

Getting away from the old, if you want to experience the new in Iznik, if you look respectable, and say that you just want to look around, the security guards will probably let you into Darka, and you can sit by the shore and have something to drink and eat.

And the next time you are in Istanbul and have a few days to spare, you may remember the tranquil and very, very local Iznik with its somber monuments which do not at all bring Xanadu to mind, and get a feeling of repeating the previous déjà vu that you had when you first came here. And afterwards, you will want to share it just as I am sharing it with you.

For a good history of the city and details of all the sites, read John Freely’s “Turkey Around the Marmara”, 1998

otherchelebi May 8th, 2011 04:50 AM

This, the third part of the thread is all about a trip we took to iznik on a snowy January weekend in 2010:

Decided to enjoy the snow at Iznik. So, took off yesterday at 14:14, under freezing rain. made the mistake of not going to the 15:15 Pendik fast ferry, thinking we could maybe drive the 230 k route or, if the motorway shows congestion, take the Eskihisar ferry.
Well, there was congestion, so we made it to Eskihisar and a queue mostly with trucks and busses because they are nor allowed on the fast ferries, at 15:00. Could not get on the first ferry but managed to barely make it to the second one as the one before last car, fortunately because they could not squeeze any of the three busses in front of us on the queue.
Arriving at Topcular, instead of Yalova, gave us the chance to take the alternate scenic route to Iznik from Altinova. The first 12k of the route some of it along a rushing stream, with small portions of the road washed down a precipice, was exciting.
When we got to valide kopru, we discovered that the new bridge had been recently washed away, so took the historic one which gave the village its name. (this bridge is also closed off now, so you take a detour by following directions)
The temperature was one degree celsius but we still had rain, which changed to snow as we got to Kizderbent. Soon we were driving on snow, A few kilometers more, we came across an opportunistic villager with a tractor, who was either selling or renting chains and installing it on two cars, who could not make it any further because of the sloping and winding roads and the snow which had reached about six inches.
We passed through Bayindir village with our AWD after another 5-8 kilometers, covered with snow and suddenly the snow disappeared again. When we got down to the lake at Boyalica, it was freezing rain again.
we got the info that Istanbul was minus three and under snow by noon, but our snow did not start before 3PM.
We had two short walks, the second one after the snow started, fed the guard dog, Pasha, a Kangal, took a few photos, fed three stray cats, and are enjoying the purring of the two cats whom we lured into our home with cat food, cheese and room temperature water. (it is incredible how much they drank inside although the garden is full of rain water and snow.)
Tomorrow we will take more photos and post some of them on webshots or Picasa, the route, the cats and Darka, Iznik under snow.
If we feel very charitable, we will take some photos of Iznik lake front also and share it with the nice people on this thread.

otherchelebi May 8th, 2011 04:57 AM

This is the last part of that snowy trip:

Well, we are back, and here are the photos:…
my wife hogged it again, as usual.
the drive was uneventful. the very fresh four pound whiting we bought at Yalova was unfortunately botched in the steaming. (do not put onions for any reason. softened dry porcini mushrooms are fine) (Learned yesterday that one could actually find porcini mushrooms in the wilds around the town of Mengen)
Actually came back early because we ran out of fuel at 7 AM, and when i went to check the boiler, i decided that the something water tank needed more pressure, so opened a couple of valves to let the water flow in, and suddenly the stupid machine started leaking water all over the place.
Went to the administration 9:30 after packing, paid an advance for next months’ cleaning, water wi-fi, electricity, telephone bills, found the handyman, who said he will take care of the leak and also top up the fuel tank, which we can settle when next we get to Iznik. Then paid another visit to Pasha, the dog, who refused to eat his food until i petted him sufficiently, put a great deal of food on the terrace for the stray cats and possible porcupines, went to town, took some of the photos you will see, drove to Yalova for the whiting and the Yenikapi ferry, calling our daughter beforehand so as not to catch him en flagrante.
And now once again with you, my friends.
well we apparently had a meeting scheduled at our home with a medium, who actually came with his genies, saying that he may have been influential in our getting home early, to make the meeting. Did his genies drink up the fuel?

I am not sure i should say too much about his fortune telling, but you'd better be nice to me, because he saw a lot of wealth in the not so distant future. And very good sales for my travel book, as well as two grandchildren.

I will add to this thread whenever i find out something interesting about iznik and whenever something interesting happens there.

marigo13 May 8th, 2011 06:01 PM

Dear Othercelebi. Thank you so much. I was already trying to see Iznik in my mind's eye. Will look at the photos later today. My Turkish friends are going to be so surprised I can find all these "secret" places that tourists don't go to.
Is Iznik close to Bursa? I was in Bursa about three years ago just to eat the famous kebabs. Walked around an old village on the way back to Istanbul, stopping on the way to buy sweets and chestnuts.

otherchelebi May 9th, 2011 03:43 AM

Iznik is 40 kilometers East of Orhangazi, the town one third of the way on the route from Yalova to Bursa, at the eastern edge of the large Iznik lake.

If you have a rtental car, and you're traveling between July and october, you can visit some of the farms on the sides of the road or up towards the mountain villages and ask to pick your own fresh tomatoes directly from the bush. It is a major taste delight to eat those tomatoes (after first washing them well) with some white Ezine goat cheese purchased from one of the two Itimat dairy shops in iznik and a loaf of fresh warm crunchy bread.

you can also try for cherries, peaches, apples, grapes, and quince according to the season, directly from the orchards/farms or road side stalls.

suffrock May 9th, 2011 08:52 AM

Iznik is on our itinerary for July. We plan to stay there for a night before going back to Istanbul after a road trip. I'm still trying to track down info on reserving rooms at the Iznik Foundation guesthouse, but so far no luck. Can you recommend a good restaurant in the area (although it sounds like we'll be able to make a meal from the roadside stalls). In July, would you recommend driving from Iznik to Yalova along the south side of the lake or the north side--is one route prettier? Thank you for the great information.

otherchelebi May 9th, 2011 11:07 AM

suffrock, it will be a good idea to drive to iznik from the South side of the lake, if you are already driving in from the south and then drive towards Yalova on the North side, and if you have some extra time, to take the turn off at Boyalica village towards Karamursel, but take a left at Valide Kopru towards Altinova, even if you do not eat at Bagdat Restaurant.

The locations of Camlik and Cem hotels (on the lake shore drive) are better than the foundation guest house which is inland on a narrow country lane. Neither are luxurious but they seem to be acceptable. If you were staying more than one night i might have been able to arrange for a guest facility at Darka. Have a look at Darka website in ny case.

otherchelebi Dec 15th, 2011 11:53 AM

Here are some slide presentations of phographs and the photographs we took of the sunsets and the sky on the lake and the city walls and gates, at different times:

we used a Byzantine hymn and a Prokofiev piece in the background of the two presentations.

suki1 Apr 25th, 2012 07:46 PM

You have made it seem that my son and I will need to do a day trip from Istanbul to Iznik, if that is possible. He wanted to see it, but I thought that it would not be possible. I may now re-think this.

otherchelebi Aug 5th, 2012 11:08 PM

Last time I drove by the Roman theatre I saw that the wire fence around the site had been repaired and the gate closed with a lock. There was no sign of any excavation but I hope they will start and allow visitors as before.

This was the place where my daughters saw their first 1000 year old skeleton being dug up about 15 years ago. Apparently, the theatre was used as a burial fill during a siege or a plague. Some of that fill still remain with ends of bones sticking out, although most of the theate has been cleared.

By the way, the music accompanying our slide presentation of the city walls and gates is Byzantine religious hymns which we thought was appropriate for this city of historic importance in Christianity.

ashwinb Apr 23rd, 2014 08:33 AM

Awesome..looks like just the kind of Turkish town I would want to explore on my next trip(sometime in future), I thought I was done with Western Turkey(other than the Mediterranean), but no..Iznik, Edirne, Phrygia..there's so much to see in Turkey.
And the picassa link doesn't seem to work.

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