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Manisa in Western Turkey

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From the Enc. Britt.: city, western Turkey. It lies in the valley of the Gediz River (ancient Hermus River), below Mount Sipylus (Manisa dağı), 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Izmir. It was called Magnesia ad Sipylum (q.v.) in ancient times, and the Magnetesof Thessaly are thought to have been its first inhabitants in the 12th century BC. It was taken by Cyrus II the Great of Persia in the 6th century BC, and in 190 BC it was the scene of a Roman victory over Seleucid Antiochus III the Great. Under the Attalids of Pergamum in the 1st century AD, it became a flourishing commercial centre, known first as Magnesiopolis and later as Magnesia. Emperor John III Ducas made it the seat of government in 1222. In 1313 Saruhan, a Turkmen tribal chief, captured Magnesia, renamed it Manisa, and made it the capital of his principality until the town was taken over by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I in 1390. The principality was restored by the central Asian ruler Timur (Tamerlane) following his victory over the Ottomans (1402), but it again fell to the Ottomans about 1410. In the 18th century Manisa was ruled by the virtually independent Karaosmanoğlu governors until their power was broken in 1822. Much favoured by the medieval Ottoman princes and sultans, Manisa has several buildings dating from that period. The mosque Muradiye Cami (built 1583–86), decorated with exquisitely worked marble, glazed tiles, and gilding, is particularlynoteworthy. The medrese (religious school) attached to the mosque now houses a local archaeological museum. An important agricultural and commercial centre, Manisa is linked by rail with Afyon and İzmir.

I visited it again in March 2007, hardly remembering it from a short visit years earlier, and found it very pleasant, so I stayed 3 nights, to the surprise of the hotel manager. I surprised him even more in moving out on the day the Mesir Festivali got started. During this festival the invention of a local specialty is celebrated, a syrupy sweet, in which 49 herbs are mixed in. Some black pepper and lots of cinnamon are obvious, but there are many other subtle tastes. It tastes nice and I ate my way through two packages during a couple of days. I am rather immune to festivals and try and avoid the crowds they bring, so no pictures of it. If you want to see more, check at www.mesirfestivali.com, and then go to the fotograflar. And you might take a look at the gallery of the nearby Akhisar.
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