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(CUL) DESTINATIONS TO DISCOVER IN TURKEY: THE MARMARA REGION (2).

ANKARA, Jul 5, 2009 (TUR) -- The Marmara Region, lying in the northwest of Turkey, is full of cities and towns with many tourist attractions.

-KOCAELI-

"The industrial hub of Turkey", Kocaeli province has many tourist attractions with its 3,000-year history and winter sports center Kartepe.

Kartepe, the peak of the Samanli Mountains with its picturesque Izmit Gulf and Sapanca Lake view, is an excellent place for skiers. The season generally begins at the end of December, while the skiing resort is an ideal place for congress and seminar tourism during the summer as it is only one hour away from Istanbul.

Kartepe, the habitat of almost 3,000 plants, deer, bear, jackal and rabbit, is one of the sports tourism centers in Turkey, thanks to its tennis court, volleyball fields, and grass fields in FIFA standards.

Kocaeli has access to the Black Sea through Kandira and Kerpe towns. Kerpe has natural bays, a shallow sea, and unique beaches.

Kefken hamlet, only 20 kilometers away from Kandira, is also an indispensable place with its sea, beaches and pine forests.

The building of the "Kocaeli Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Regional Board" is a place worth seeing in downtown Kocaeli. The building was used as a train station in the past. The restaurant car in the station is one of the first such cars in Turkey, whereas the depot is serving as a restaurant today.

The repair center, water depot, and apartments for employees are serving as Archeology and Ethnography Museum, which are displaying artifacts dating to Palaeolithic, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras.

Also, one should visit the museum built in Darica town in 1884 by Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey. The museum is full of reproductions of several works of Osman Hamdi Bey, family photos and his personal belongings.

Also, the first private zoo in Turkey, "Bogazici Zoo and Botanic Park" is situated in Darica. The zoo and park shelters 3,000 animals in 300 different species, and 500 plants.

People can taste local food at the Pembe (Pink) Mansion.

-"CITY OF SAGES": BURSA-

Bursa, one of the industrial hubs in Turkey, also has an important place in Turkey's tourism thanks to its historical and natural beauties.

Uludag, the symbol of the city, is among the main winter and skiing resorts in Turkey. One can travel to Uludag by taxis, or by cable car if s/he wants to have a bird's view over the Bursa Plain.

People can have the opportunity to enjoy winter sports, and see the beauties of the nature during spring.

Also, Sarialan, Cobankaya and Kirazliyayla Plateaus are places one can go camping.

People can also visit the Soganli Botanic Park and see 150 different types of threes, 76 different types of bushes, and 27 different types of roses. It is possible to accommodate in houses in the park, similar to old Bursa houses dating to 17th-19th centuries and also taste Iskender kebab.

Defined as the "City of Sages", Bursa was the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, it is possible to visit many tombs, inns, mosques, and covered bazaars.

Koza Inn, Ulu Mosque, Orhan Mosque, Yesil (Green) Mosque and Yesil (Green) Tomb are among the main historical attractions in the city.

Also, people can enjoy thermal springs in Cekirge neighborhood of Bursa.

-IZNIK-

Iznik is another city in the Marmara Region worth seeing with its lake, natural and historical attractions.

Named as the third sacred city after Jerusalem and Vatican City at the end of the 19th Council that convened in the Vatican City in 1962, Iznik is a place one can visit the Hagia Sophia and Roman theaters and the pottery shops.

Also, sunbathing and swimming in the beaches on the banks of the Iznik Lake, and eating the fish caught from the lake are sine qua non things one should do in Iznik.

Dalyan, Poyraz and Arapciftligi are other lakes to be seen, whereas one can observe storks and other bird species in Karaagac village.

Mudanya town, on the coast of Gemlik Gulf, should also be visited. One can see wooden houses, and the museum in which Mudanya Truce which ended the War of Independence was signed.

Ten-kilometers away from Mudanya, one can visit Trilye which is famous of its olives and wines. Fatih Mosque, converted from St. Stephanos Church, Dundar House, and Tas Mektep (Stone School) are tourist attractions.

-BALIKESIR: CITY OF HISTORY, CULTURE AND TOURISM-

Balikesir is another tourism center in the Marmara Region with coasts both in the Aegean and Marmara seas, unique bays, islets, mountains, and thermal springs.

Erdek town; Kapidagi Peninsula; Avsa, Marmara, Saraylar and Ekinlik islets should be seen in Balikesir.

One can also visit the Kirazli Monastery, Kyzikos and Daskyleion ancient cities, and Kuscenneti (Bird Paradise) in the vicinity of Balikesir.

Susurluk is a town of Balikesir where one can enjoy its famous toast and ayran (Turkish drink made of yoghurt).

Zaganos Pasha Mosque, Kuvayi Milliye Museum and Karesi Tomb are the tourist attractions in the city, while people can enjoy panoramic view of Balikesir from Camliktepe. Also, people can taste local meatballs.

Havran, Edremit, Burhaniye, Gomec and Ayvalik are the other towns one should visit in Balikesir. If you travel through the Gulf area by car, you can pass through Kazdaglari (Kaz Mountains).

In Ayvalik, people can climb to Seytan Sofrasi (Devil's Table) and enjoy the marvellous sunset.

Tourists are recommended to taste "papalina" fish on Cunda Islet of Ayvalik and a toast peculiar to Ayvalik, swim on Sarimsakli Beach, buy olive oil, and join boat tours.

Edremit town offers thermal and mountain tourism alternatives, while Altinoluk town, lying on the bottom of the Kazdaglari, is the second oxygen depot in the world after the Alps.

Tahtakuslar Ethnography Museum, Antandros Ancient City, Sahidrese Canyon are worth seeing on Havran-Edremit-Akcay-Gure-Altinoluk route.

Also, people can join trekking tours on Kazdagi National Park, and swim in the ice-cold waterfalls on the bottom of the Mount Ida.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)
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Publication:Anadolu (Eskisehir, Turkey)
Date:Jul 5, 2009
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