Having visited Turkey many times, but always heading east, I recently decided to go off the usual routes of Cappadocia and the beaches on the Mediterranean and explore the European part of the country. I made my base the city of Edirne, which is rich in history and natural beauty, such as a rain forest , caves and countless vineyards, lined up like pearls on a string along the aptly named Wine Route of Thrace.
The city is a treasure trove of historical sites and buildings, most prominent among them, the 16th century Selimiye Mosque with the highest minarets in Turkey and the Bayezit II Mosque and complex with a centuries-old famous medical school.
Add caravansaries, palaces, bazaars, a synagogue, an Orthodox church and two long bridges over the river Tunca, and you will see that you can easily spend two or even three days in Edirne to admire it all. Of course, one has to spend the night somewhere and that’s how I discovered the Tasodalar Hotel.
It is even older than the Selimiye Mosque and formed part of the first Ottoman palace built in 1362. The lovely pink stone and wood structure is located right next to the mosque, so you wake up to the call to prayer and, looking out your window, you can see the sun rise over the tall minarets.
Across the road you find an important cemetery and, in the back, a hammam all of which date from the same time. You are literally surrounded by history. According to records, Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, was born in this mansion on the 29th of March 1432. If you get lucky, you can rent room 208, which is the Hurrem Sultan Suite and supposedly the birth chamber of one of Turkey’s greatest sultans. How cool is that?
After the building of the new palace, Tasodaler served as the residence of Beys and Pashas and reminders of these glories are everywhere. On the first floor landing, a mannequin dressed as a sultana watches over a baby in a cot, a reference to the great sultan who was born in this very place.
The hotel has only nine rooms, but each one is a different work of art with incredible attention to detail. The rooms are huge and can accommodate a total of 25 people. My key opened the door to the Hurrem Sultan suite and a four poster bed shrouded in transparent curtains woven through with gold thread greeted me. An ornate dresser, two more single beds, a rocking chair and a desk by the window which overlooks the mosque complete the Ottoman-style furniture. Small wonder, I already started feeling like a sultana.
The bathroom is ample and modern, and you find fine soap and other goodies as well as a hair dryer. Downstairs is a glassed-in veranda which serves as breakfast room and also has the best WiF i connection in the hotel. (In the rooms, the WiFi is a bit temperamental.)
The buffet offers an ample Turkish breakfast with three cheeses, boiled eggs, sausages, cucumber and tomatoes, fruit, yoghurt, bread, honey, butter and a selection of pastries. If you prefer fried or scrambled eggs the kitchen is happy to accommodate you. In good weather you can take your plates outside and sit in the lovely tea garden.
My bed was so comfortable, I could have stayed in it all day, but after a session in the hammam which opens at 7 a.m., the many attractions of Edirne awaited. The incomparable atmosphere of the hotel and its surroundings make you really feel regal, if only for a night a night or two.
An added bonus is that the manager is actually a historian, and as soon as he discovered my interest in history, told me many interesting stories about Thrace. I was so captivated by this part of Turkey which is rather neglected by foreign visitors, that I have already planned a return visit. Who wouldn’t want to feel like a sultana again?
Address: Tasodalar Otel, Selimiye Camii Arkasi Tasodalaer Sokak 3, Edirne