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A beautiful and mysterious landscape full of tradition
City of Ancient Nicea and Beautiful tiles

Founded in the 4th century BC by the Macedonian King Antigonus, Nicea was an important centre in late Roman and Byzantium times. In 325 AD the first council of the Christian Church was held, called by Constantine the Great.   Over 300 Bishops from across the Christian World attended. The bibles of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were adopted by the Council as the official gospels of the Christian Church.  Another council was held in 787AD known as the second council of Nicea which dealt with the Mrrwe of the use of Ikons and afterwards were restored to use in the Byzantine Empire. (In 1962 the 2nd Vatican Council described Is Iznik as the third holiest city after Jerusaleum and the Vatican.)   The Seljuk Turks took Nicea in 1081 and renamed it Iznik, but was recaptured by Byzantines 16 years later. Nicea was finally conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1378. During the 16th century, pottery production was introduced and the city became famous for its beautiful tiles which decorate many mosques and palaces throughout Turkey. After its tile production moved to Istanbul and Kutahya Iznik declined and the population today is around 15000 people. It is a lovely small city and we include this on a tour if you are travelling to Safranbolu or Ankara.

What to see

The Roman and Byzantium Walls surrounding Iznik are almost intact and present a lovely entrance to the city. The main Gate is the Istanbul Gate to the north and other gates are Lefke, Yenishir and Lake Gate.   A highlight for religious travelers are the ruins of the 4th CAD St Sophia Cathedral, site of the 2nd Council of Nicea. It was renamed Orhan Ghazi Mosque in 1331. After being badly damaged in an earthquake it was restored by Sinan Mimar the renowned Architect.   The 14th Green Mosque is named for the green tiles adorning its Minaret. Also worth of a visit is the Iznik Archaeological Museum across from the mosque.   The Museums collection shows Roman antiquities and glass, as well as Selcuk and Ottoman tiles.

What to buy

Although the main production centre for tiles is now Kutahya and most of the Iznik tiles are sold in Istanbul you can still buy some examples in Iznik itself.

What to eat

Wednesdays is market day in Iznik and although similar to the rest of Turkey they do have certain specialities such as Artichokes found wild in the region. Among Iznik specialties are soups and stews made from carp and catfish.   There are many good restaurants in the main street.

Turkey Travel Guide Tours