In the valley just mentioned there were several minarets that may have belonged to mosques that were, for some reason or other, destroyed. Here is one of them.
When the Ottoman Bey Osman Gazi took the place in 1289, it was mainly a castle (named ‘Belikoma’) held by an independent (Byzantine or Latin) prince. Until the conquest of Bursa, Bilecik was the most important place in Ottoman possession; Osman’s son Orhan Gazi (1326-1362) had ‘his’ mosque built in the valley, where the city was developing, as well as a mosque in honour of his father, and the dervish retreat and mausoleum of Şeyh Edebali (died 1325), who had been the spiritual leader of Osman Gazi. In later centuries, the town grew to become an important regional center, governed from Sultanönu (now: Eskişehir) at first, and since 1883 from Bursa. In the meanwhile, the town had to suffer from a great city fire in 1856. The death blow came in 1922, when the Greek troops (who had occupied Western Anatolia in 1919, with the support of the Western Allies) retreated when the Turkish army (under Mustafa Kemal Paşa) reconquered the lost territories. Before leaving, the Greek army destroyed Bilecik thoroughly, provoking the massive flight of the indigenous Greek Orthodox (‘Rum’) population of the region as well. The city’s population of 12.000 (in 1920) dropped to a mere 4.000 in 1925.
On the picture: The few alone standing minarets in the valley are the sole remnants of what was a flourishing city once . Only two important monuments were restored (the Orhan Gazi mosque and the Şeyh Edebali dervish retreat). The new city shifted to the higher grounds above.
Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
Sources: ‘Türkye Tarihi Yerler Kılavuzu’ – M.Orhan Bayrak, Inkılâp Kitabevi, Istanbul, 1994.
& Personal visits (1997 – 1998).