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Tekirdağ - Wine and Raki from Thracia!

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Tekirdağ - Wein und Raki!

Tekirdağ is situated on the northern coast of the Sea of Marmara, 135 km west of Istanbul in the European part of Turkey in Thracia. The picturesque bay of Tekirdağ is enclosed by the great promontory of the mountain which gives its name to the city, Tekir Dağı (ancient Combos), a spur about 2000 ft. that rises into the hilly plateau to the north.

Between Tekirdağ and Şarköy is another mountain, Ganos Dağı.

The history of the city of Tekirdağ dates back to around 4000 BC. The ancient Greek city of Rodosto is said to have been founded by Samians. In Xenophon’s Anabasis it is mentioned to be a part of the kingdom of the Thracian prince Seuthes. Its restoration by Justinian I in the 6th century A.D. is chronicled by Procopius. In 813 and again in 1206 it was sacked by the Bulgarians after the Battle of Rodosto, but it continued to appear as a place of considerable note in later Byzantine history. It was also ruled by Venetians between 1204 - 1235.

In the Ottoman period the city was successively a part of the vilayet (province) of Rumelia, Kaptanpaşa (centered at Gelibolu), Silistre and Edirne.

In 1905, the city had a population of about 35,000; of whom half were Greeks who were exchanged with Muslims living in Greece under the 1923 agreement for Exchange of Greek Orthodox and Muslim Populations between the two countries.

Tekirdağ was for many years a depot for the products of the Edirne province, but its trade suffered when Alexandroupolis became the terminus of the railway up the river Maritsa.

The Tekirdağ area is the site of many holiday homes, as the city is only two hours drive from Istanbul via a new four-lane highway. The villages of Şarköy, Mürefte and Kumbağ are particularly popular with Turkish tourists. Much of this holiday property has been built in an unregulated and unplanned manner and thus much of the coast looks over-built. The Marmara Sea is polluted but there are still a number of public beaches near Tekirdağ.

Most of the city's Ottoman wooden buildings have been replaced by concrete apartment blocks, but some are being restored or replaced with attractive houses in the traditional style. Except for the Rüstem Paşa Camii, built by the Ottoman architect, Mimar Sinan, in the 16th century, and the narrow streets that help one imagine life in the Ottoman period, the city lacks antique charm. One reason to visit is the local delicacy, the small spicy cylindrical grilled meatballs called Tekirdağ köftesi, traditionally followed by courses of a sweet local cheese and semolina pudding.

The inland areas are fertile farmland, growing crops including winter wheat, sunflowers, cherries and grapes for wine-making: thus the high quality rakı for which Tekirdağ is noted. The distilleries were state-owned until the 1990s but are now in private hands and the wine and rakı industries are undergoing a renewal. Local red wines are inexpensive and worth a taste.

Both the east-west highway (the Via Egnatia from Roman times) and the highway north toward Muratlı and Luleburgaz are four lanes.

Tekirdağ is the home of Namık Kemal University, which was founded in 2006 with three faculties. It is located at the eastern edge of the city.

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