Edirne Chamber of Commerce and Industry

History of Edirne

It is known that Edirne was founded by Thracians who migrated here from Central Asia. Later, in the time of Alexander the Great, the city was reconstructed by Hadrianus, one of the Roman emperor and it was called as Hadrianopolis. Once it passed under the sovereignty of Bulgaria and it stayed in sovereignty of Byzantium until it was conquered in 1361 by Lala Şahin Paşa in the time of Murat I. The city, which was dependant to Ottoman Empire for 92 years until the conquest of İstanbul, belonged to ruler of Rumelia as “Paşa Sancağı”. Edirne was the fifth biggest city of Europe in 17th century and was the second crowded city of Thrace after İstanbul according to 1990 census.


The Odrysians were one of the most powerful Thracians tribes that dwelled in the plain of the Hebrus river. In the years of 5500-5000 B.C., near Ainos(Enez) there was an oldest place,even older than neolithic cultures,known in Balkans and it had Anatolian features with its potteries and walls as colony. Both Athens and Romans took the Thracians to their own armies as mercenary because of their great courage and warrior spirit.

Thracians had variety of settlements,some of them are caves,strong castles,farms,fishing villages that was built on pile and cities.

Apsinties; in the east of Ainos (Enez), Drugeries; in the middle Hebrus (Meriç),Tynis; in Salmydessos (Midye),Kalopothaks were some of the Thracians tribes who settled from the south of Ainos (Enez) to Kallipolis Peninsula (Gelibolu). Odrysians who lived in Tonzos valley region extending from the coast were the most famous and strongest one of all.

Odrysai was one of the most important towns of Odrysians who had a wide area in Thrace. It was a settlement and market place which established in where it joined with Hebrus (Meriç) and Tonzos (Tunca) and in curves of these rivers. Because Southeastern Europe was situated in Anatolia obligatory passage, the area was under the influence of immigration,invasion, trade and cultural exchange. Especially immigration and transition almost never stopped. In the year 513 B.C. Darius İskit, the Persian king, launched the first military expedition with Anatolia and Rumelia in Bosphorus (İstanbul Strait) and then continued into the interior of Thrace that is not too far from the coast. Odrys’s hometown was the first stop of the army. Then Persians took Trakya. In the year 492 B.C. the military expedition of Mardonius strengthened the sovereignty of Persians. In the year 480 B.C. Thracians had to give their soldiers to the King Kserkses’s army. Kserkses moved from Kallipolis Peninsula in Melas Gulf.He passed Ainos (Enez), thus Persians conquered all plain of Hebros river.

After the end of Persians’s sovereignty King Teres believed that Thracians must have united. Thus Odrysians would have territory that was from Hebrus and Kypsela (İpsala) to Varna. Odrysians reorganized as aristocratic and feudal community.

Odrysians began to weaken after they lost the war with Philip, the King of Macedonia, in the time of Roman (342-341 B.C.). Alexander the Great who was fearing the emergence of unrest after Philip was killed in the year 336 B.C., stood the military expedition to the interior of Thrace in the year 335 B.C. He reached the Balkans by passing the country of Thracians that remained Kingless and Nestos (Mesta) river along the coast in 10 days.They went along Tonzos (Tunca) and passed the ravine. Thrace itself became satrapy (satrap is the name given to the governors of provinces of the ancient Median and Persian Empires and in several of their successors) after the death of Alexander the Great.

Although Trakya was invaded by Galatians, Odrysians strengthened their friendly relations with Macedonia thanks to the King Kotys. At the war against Rome in the year 171-168 B.C. , Kotys was the only friend of Perseus.Romans who wiped out Kingdom of Macedonia captured Thracia.

Rhaimetalkes was declared the king of Thracia by Caligula in the year 37-38 A.D. After he was killed,emperor Claudius put an end to the independence of Thracein the year 45 A.D. Then Trakya as a shire was totally joined Roman Empire.


In the year 123-124 A.D. emperor Hadrianus, who went on trip to the east (117-138), commanded that new structures must have been built on Uscudama/Odrysai.Town started to develop and became bigger. Odrysai became one of the most significant place of Roman Empire and it was called as Hadrianopolis which means “City of Hadrianus” to remember his name.

The most valuable structure that Hadrianus made was castle. There were four round towers on the four corner of the castle which had fully Roman Castrum Plan. There were twelve small towers with four corners and nine doors between the towers. A ditch also was built in front of the walls. Cities of Thrace developed a great deal in the first half of 2nd and 3rd centuries when the golden age of Roman Empire. Moreover Hadrianopolis developed in the field of military,commercial and agriculture with the golden age.

In the year 297 A.D., with Diocletianus’s administrative division (284-305 A.D.), Hadrianopolis which was an important Rome tower, became the capital city of Haemimontus, one of the six cities of Thrace. Internal fights began after withdrawal of Diocletianus. In the year 324 A.D. Licinius lost the war that happened near Hadrianopolis. The winner of this war was Constantine. First he vanquished Licinius who retreated up to the Byzantion then he reigned the empire after massacre. He also declared Byzantion as the capital city. He became the emperor Constantine I. of this new city. The city, which was called as Nea Rome before, was consubstantiated with the name of Constantine I. and became Constantinopolis (11 May 330).

The war in the time of emperor Valens, 378 with Goths in the north side of Hadrianopolis, ended with the defeat of Roman army. Emperor Theodosius I. aimed to prevent immigration and chaos in Thrace by doing soft policies to the Goths. He lived in Hadrianopolis in September of the year 381.

After that, the Huns attacked Thrace and slaughtered the area in the year 447 A.D.

The war with Avars in 550 A.D., Byzantine army was defeated heavily and many soldiers were held captive. Avars also took the holy flag. There happened a swoop to the Avars who destructed everything after the war. Some of the captive soldiers and the holy flag were saved.

During the time of Heraklius (610-641 A.D.), there were five bishoprics in Hadrianopolis’s spiritual authority.

In the year 807 A.D. emperor Nicephorus I. organized a military expedition to the Bulgarians and took back Hadrianopolis. But when he realized that there would be a riot against him, he immediately turned back Constantinopolis.

The greatest threat of Byzantium after the year 1018, was Pechenegs. They united and strengthened in the time of Canstantine IX. Monomachus and destructed Hadrianopolis with their army. Venedik, which got the widest earth when Byzantium disrupted, obtained Hadrianopolis.

In the year 1336, one of the Andronicus’s III. Girls got married the Bulgarian Prince Mikhael in Hadrianopolis. Before Andronicus III. died in 1341, he left the government to his nine-year old boy Ioannes (1341-1391).And he also chose Cantacuzenos for the regent who was a very reliable ruler. He declared himself as an emperor in Didymoteikhos October 26,1341 (1341-1354). As well as there was a succession to the throne between these two emperors, it also turned a class conflict between landowners, nobles, the city’s notables and the folk. That riot,which began in Hadrianopolis, spreaded to Thrace quickly.Cantacuzenos took Hadrianopolis and in 1347 he declared himself emperor as Ioannes IV. against Ioannes Palaiologos V.

In the year 1352, Cantacuzenos had to fight with Ioannes Palaiologos V. For Hadrianopolis. Palaiologos had 4000 cavalries with the great help of Serbs and Bulgarians. Cantacuzenos asked Orhan Gazi for help, who was his friend and son-in-law, to be able to defeat his enemy. In the end, Cantacuzenos won the war with 10000 Turkish soldiers under the orders of Süleyman Bey.

Ottoman Empire

One night in 1354, Süleyman Bey conquered Kallipolis (Gelibolu) Tower and Ottoman forces began to invade this place. Then the sound of Turks’s footsteps was heard everywhere. In 1360, Didymotheikos was conquered. Since his accession to the throne Murad I. attached great importance to attempts for take-over Rumelia. Sultan commanded Lala Şahin Paşa that Hadrianopolis must have been conquered after he took Çorlu and Keşan into Ottoman Empire’s rule. Lala Şahin Paşa took the city from Byzantines with Hacı İlbeyi. In July of the year 1362, Hadrianopolis belonged to Turks during the time of Murad I. In the declaration of Murad I., sent to Üveys Han, the ruler of Celayir, it was written that name of the city was Edirne.When Murad I. came to visit this new city, he left the tower’s ruling to the defence of Lala Şahin Paşa. And then Edirne became very much important military base to conquer Rumelia. In 1363, Lala Şahin Paşa moved from here to capture Filibe. Next year, Maritsa war against Crusader army that consisted of Serbs, Wallachia and Hungarians had begun just 25 kilometer west of Edirne. Because an old man with white beard and cherub told him to build a palace in Edirne, Murad I. constructed a great palace there.

The Capital City of Ottoman Empire (Dar-ül Mülk)

After Edirne was conquered, this place began to Turkishization.Edirne became the capital city of Ottoman Empire in 1365. It showed a new period was coming for Edirne. Bayezid I.(1389-1403) managed the siege movements of İstanbul from Edirne.

After the death of Yıldırım Bayezid, his sons came into conflict because of the throne. This interregnum period (1403-1413) made the city more valuable and significant.Emir Süleyman Çelebi, the oldest son of Bayezid, ascended the throne by taking the public purse from Bursa to Edirne. Then, Musa Çelebi, the other son, fought with his brother with the help of Wallachia Voivode (Ruler). He captured the city in 1411. He coined money on behalf of his own name. In 1413, Mehmed Çelebi I.(1413-1421) gained the Ottoman Empire again and took Edirne from his brother.

In 1419, There seemed Mustafa Çelebi (Düzmece Mustafa) who claimed that he was the lost son of Bayezid I. at Ankara war. He captured Edirne by claiming his right of throne. Believing that he was a sultan, he coined money on behalf of his name. Although he passed from Edirne to Anatolia with a forceful army, he lost the war against Murad II. After he took his treasure that he left while going to Edirne, he was caught when he was on the way to Wallachia. In 1442 he was killed in Edirne and the first festival in Edirne was organized after his death. People joined the festival with a great enthusiasm.

Murad II. was arranged very brilliant circumcision for his sons Alaeddin and Mehmed. He left the throne to Mehmed II. in 1444 and he went to Manisa. The first cülus ceremony (this event was organized when a new sultan ascended the throne) was arranged for Mehmed II. in Edirne Palace because he was the first sultan after Edirne became the capital city. This supreme sultan,who was 12-year old when he ascended the throne, would be called as Fatih Sultan Mehmet after he conquered İstanbul as his destiny. When Murad II. went to Manisa, he had to come back Edirne because a crusader army would take a precise drubbing in Varna.Although Murad II. left his son the management after the victory, he had to ascend the throne third time because of the janissary revolt. Mehmed II. (1451-1481) ascended the throne precisely after Murad II. died in 5 February, 1451. Now he had a very important target. To conquer İstanbul… He began the operation from Edirne.

The New Capital City “İstanbul”

This holy purpose of Mehmed II. happened in 1453. With the attack that was made on May 29 towards morning, the onshore walls of İstanbul collapsed. That day, Mehmed II. went in the city splendidly with his horse and performed salat in Hagia Sophia. Then Mehmed II. was called “Fatih Sultan Mehmet” which means the conqueror of İstanbul and the capital city of Ottoman Empire became İstanbul. But Edirne still continued to be a place for important events of the empire,even after it transfered the capital city. The city witnessed the succession to the throne between Bayezid II. and his son Selim.However Gedik Ahmet Paşa was executed by Bayezid II. in Edirne (1481-1512).

In 16th century, Edirne became epicenter of westward expeditions. It also always took attention because most of sultans often spent time there. The Public Works of city was given great importance by Yavuz Sultan Selim(1512-1520), Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (1520-1566) and Selim II. (1566-1574).

Golden Ages of Edirne

In 17th century, there had been an increase in interest for Edirne, headed by Ahmed I. (1603-1617). Osman II. and then Murad IV. organized spectacular hunting entertainment in the forests and copses of Edirne. N. Mehmed (1649-1687) who was called as “Hunter”, mostly spent his time with battue there. N. Mehmed, who made almost Edirne as administrative centre in 1670, began the Russian and Polish military expedition.

Another sultan that enjoyed living in Edirne was Mustafa II. (1695-1703). He was removed from the throne at the end of the riot, known as “Edirne Case” in 1703.

Although there had been seven months since the Prut Treaty in 16 April, 1712 after Prut war between Turks and Russians, Russians didn’t leave Poland (Lehistan). Then Ottoman Empire decided military expedition. Ahmed III. (1703-1730) moved from İstanbul to Edirne. Russian Czar Petro I., who was worried about that, said he was ready for negotiation. Treaty of Edirne was signed in 24 June, 1713 after the negotiations in Edirne. According to this Treaty, Russians would leave Poland in two months, the boundary line in N. Mehmed period. However Russians admitted that Swedish King Karl XII., who stayed as a guest in Ottoman Empire, turned back his own country with Turkish garrison.


After the massive fire in 1745, there happened an earthquake in 1751 and this caused Edirne lost its popularity.Its tumidity began to decrease.

The notables and feudal lords of Rumelia, who were opposed the Nizam-ı Cedit Reform of Selim III. (1789-1807) revolted twice in Edirne (1801-1806).

It captured by enemy at Turks-Russian war in 1828-1829. It was hard times for Edirne that Russians went in the city in 22 August, 1829. As a result of treaty of peace in Edirne, dated 14 September, 1829 , the war affected Edirne negatively though it came under the rule of Ottoman Empire. Muslims began to migrate different places. When Mahmud II. (1808-1839) came the city to rally people in 1831, he stayed for ten days and commanded for restoration. Money with Edirne marked,named Hayriye, Nısfiye and Rubiye was issued in memory of this visit.

In 1877-1878 with the Turks-Russian war, Edirne came under Russian occupation again that would continue over thirteen months in 20 January, 1878. In 13 March, 1879, it was left for Ottoman Empire after several regions were destructed.

Edirne also had hard times at beginning of 20th century. Although Şükrü Paşa defended Edirne heroically for a hundred and sixty days in Balkan wars, he capitulated to Bulgarian and Serbian forces in 26 March, 1913 because of starvation.

Forces under the command of Enver Bey without encountering any resistance entered Edirne in 22 July, 1913. The city was ruinous and dilapidated. All efforts that European States made to take out the Turks from Edirne were unsuccessful.Edirne was joined the Ottoman territory in accordance with Treaty of Bucharest,signed in 10 August, 1913.

Border Town

Our west gate Edirne was one of the most important centres of Ottoman Empire because it was on the passageway and has vivid trade. Its importance didn’t only come from its power of trade. It also adopted the west fashions that were effective in İstanbul and helped to spread it to the Balkans.

In 17th century, Edirne with 350 population became the fourth biggest city of Europe after İstanbul, Paris and Londra. Social and economical balances of the city affected negatively because of the decrease of the empire, big fires, especially invasions in 19th century(Russian in 1829, 1878-Bulgarian in 1913-Greek in 1920, 1922). Most of the Muslims immigrated during the Ottoman-Russian wars. Christians from villages were placed in vacated areas.

The most cheerful people of Edirne was always gipsies. Men generally were busy with tin or horse drawn carriages,women were busy with buying goods like clothes.Gipsies,who were thought as Muslims, played instruments such as drums, clarinets, tomtom, lute etc.

At the end of the 19th century, Population of Muslims were 79.000, Greek’s were 77.000, Armenian’s were 5.000, Bulgarian’s were 32.000, Jewish’s were 9.000.

Edirne was attached to Rumelia governor with the name of Paşa Starboard. It was the centre of the town that was founded after reforms.

Greeks occupied Edirne after the World War I. for two years (1920-1922). But after the Armistice of Mudania in 25 November, 1922, Turkish army went in Edirne. With the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 24 July, 1923, it became a border city which extended along the border with Greece and Bulgaria in Thrace territory of Republic of Turkey and had many Turkish monuments.


Edirne was the only place where Ottoman Empire organized festivals until the 16th century. Since the beginning of this century, festivals had been organized in İstanbul. But it is also known that Mehmed IV. arranged festival in Edirne (1675).

The first festival in this city was organized after Murad II. killed Düzmece Mustafa. He also made a great circumcision for his sons Alaeddin and Mehmed in Edirne. However Murad II. organized mainly sports shows for three days and nights due to the Eid feast in 1444. The other one was for the marriage of Mehmed and Sitti Hatun for  approximately three months in 1450. As well as the sports shows in circumcision of Bayezid and Mustafa, the sons of Fatih Sultan Mehmed, there were conversations and discussions of scientists.

Except these, in 1472 and 1480 there had been festivals in circumcisions of Cem Sultan and prince Abdullah and Selim, Şehinşah, Mahmud, Alem, Korkud, Ahmet, Oğuz, the princes.

The most memorable festival was certainly organized in Edirne by Mehmed IV. (Hunter Mehmed) in the year of 1674 though İstanbul was the capital city. In 1674,the circumcision of Mustafa, the 12-year old son(later became Sultan Mustafa II.) and Ahmed,the 2-year old son(later became Sultan Mustafa II.)  was organized and then the wedding of Hatice Sultan, the 17-year old daughter and Mustafa Paşa,the vizier was arranged. One took sixteen days and the other nineteen with feast and festivals and these added good memories to Edirne’s history pages.

Preparations of the festivals were begun six months in advance. Nahıls (fancy trees that were carried in circumcisions or festivals) in parade, artificial gardens,animal sculptures made of sugar were very glamorous. Theatrical games that included distortionists, snake charmers, shadow players, puppeteers, magicians used to perform with all of their dexterity. There were horseracing,arrow shooting, javelin, sword and wrestling matches also. And it took for days. Since the beginning of 18th century, rural areas and meadows in all towns were opened for the entertainment of people. Moreover in Edirne fruit and vegetable gardens extends along Maritza turned into colorful promenades with the laughter of people. The sound of Maritza’s cascading water and the chirps of the human voices were everywhere.