An attractive Aegean city, Manisa has preserved several splendid examples of Seljuk and Ottoman architecture. Endowed by Ayse Sultana, mother of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Sultan Mosque was built early in the 16th century. Every year in April, on the grounds of this mosque, a festival is held celebrating Mesir Macunu, a sticky imperial elixir that reputedly cured the sultan’s ailing mother.
The 16th century Muradiye Mosque was designed by the great architect Sinan and the adjacent medrese, or theological college, today houses the Archaeological Museum. September sees the annual Harvest Festival begin when the fruit of the vineyards are brought in with great celebration. The region’s numerous vineyards produce grapes, dried for export. South of the city lies the Sipil Dagi National Park, home of the famous “crying rock” of Niobe. If you travel to the northeast you come to Gordes, a pleasant town particularly known for its fine carpets.
The ruins of ancient Sart (Sardis), once the capital of the Lydian realm of Croesus, lie on the Sart Cayi (Pactole River). Here the first coins were minted. The Temple of Artemis and a restored gymnasium testify to the city’s past splendour, as does the important third-century A.D. synagogue. On the south side of Sardis, Mt. Boz offers trekking and other mountain sports. On its south slope, in the village of Birgi, is the Cakir Aga Mansion, a fine example of traditional Turkish architecture.
Manisa province is divided into 16 districts; Ahmetli, Akhisar, Alaşehir, Demirci, Golmarmara, Gordes, Kirkagac, Koprubasi, Kula, Manisa, Salihli, Sarigol, Saruhanli, Selendi, Soma, Turgutlu