Iznik as one of the towns of Bursa is 85 km away from Bursa at northeast corner of the city. It was settled in the coast of Lake Iznik which is at the west of the town. Antigoneia which was founded by Antigonos, one of the commanders of Macedonian King Alexander the Great, in 316 B.C. then named “Nicaea, wife of Lysimakhos who took over the city in 310 B.C. It stayed under the sovereignty of Bithynia from 3rd century B.C. to the middle of the 1st century A.D. After being seized and reestablished by Romans, the city lived under the sovereignty of different countries. First (325 A.D.) and seventh (787 A.D.) ecumenical councils which were important for Christianity in religious meaning, were gathered in Nicaea.
Theodoros Laskaris founded Nicaea Empire in here as a continuation of Byzantine in Istanbul after escaping to Anatolia with other managers because of Latin invasion in Istanbul in 1204. It was the capital of Byzantine and an important center until withdrawing Istanbul in 1261.
Nicaea which was annexed to Ottoman by Orhan Bey in 1331 also became the center of Ottomans. World famous Iznik tiles and ceramics were produced in here during 15th and 17th centuries. It lost its importance after the closure of tile shops at the end of the 17th century and losing of being the center of accommodation because of railway construction.
City walls from Roman period and Istanbul, Yenişehir and Lefke doors over these walls are in good condition in Nicaea.
A Roman theater from the 2nd century in the southwest of the city, and a necropolis outside of Istanbul door were found. Hagia Sophia Church in the middle of the city is able to survive with its body walls as a 4th century basilica. Ruins of Senatus Palace which was in the Coast of Iznik Lake, hosted the First Ecumenical Council submerged by the lake water.
Iznik Weather and Climate
Visitors travelling to Iznik ought to carefully consider their month of travel when it comes to packing. While July and August see balmy 23.5 C temperature averages, January (Iznik’s coldest month) hosts a chilly temperature average of just 5 C. And while there isn’t as much precipitation variation as in other parts of Turkey, visitors hoping for clear, dry days will have the best luck in the summer months.
Transportation and Accessing Iznik
The closest airport to Iznik is Bursa’s Yenisehir airport, located around a half hour from Iznik by car. Though Yenisehir is a small airport that sees only domestic flights, it may be a good option for visitors travelling from other parts of Turkey, with flights to and from Ankara, Gaziantep, Mus, Trabzon, Erzurum and Diyarbakir. However, Istanbul is only about an hour and 40 minutes from Iznik by car, so some visitors may choose to fly into one of Istanbul’s large international airports and drive to Iznik. Additionally, travellers spending time in the city of Eskisehir will find that Iznik is just a two-hour drive away, making it a great weekend or day trip option.
Iznik Ceramic Tiles
During the Ottoman empire, Iznik perfected — and became known for — its ceramic tiles, which primarily adorn the walls and arches of significant buildings throughout Turkey. They are a rare and sought-after item, not only for their intricate beauty but for their rarity and the craftsmanship ancient potters put into them. In fact, in 2006, a rare ceramic pottery set from Iznik sold for 500,000 USD. For those with less spending money, these tiles can easily be seen in Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. The imperial seat of the Ottoman era. The tile and mosaic-lined rooms and hallways at one point housed over 5,000 residents. At the decline of the Ottoman empire, with it went the ability to preserve the craft, thus tile-making in Iznik slowly died out. Any tiles that do not currently line the interior of buildings from that era have made their way to museums, including the Louvre and the Smithsonian.
Must-see places: Hagia Sophia Museum, Iznik Green Mosque, the Iznik Museum, Iznik walls, Lake Iznik.
Do Not Return Without Doing:
Shopping: Purchasing Iznik Tiles