The Turkish city of Balıkesir (bah-LUK-eh-seer), midway between Turkey’s Marmara and Aegean regions (map), is known for its olives and olive oil, and for the Yağcıbedir (YAH-juh-beh-deer) carpets woven in nearby villages.
It’s also the capital city of the province of Balıkesir,which includes tourism towns on the Sea of Marmara such as Erdek, the bird sanctuary (kuş cenneti) at Manyas, the train—ferry—bus transport nexus of Bandırma, the hot springs spa at Gönen, and the Aegean seaside resorts of Ayvalık, Edremit and Akçay.
If you stop in Balıkesir, look for the Clock Tower (Saat Kulesi, 1827), the Yıldırım (Eski) Mosque (1388), and the Zaganos Pasha Mosque complex (1461).
For most travelers, Balıkesir is a way-point on travel between Istanbul, Bursa, Çanakkale, Bergama and Izmir.
It has an active bus terminal, railroad station (on the Bandırma—Izmir and Kütahya—Izmir lines), hotels, and other necessary services, but not a lot of reasons to linger if your time is short.
At first glance, the city’s name is strange: “balık-esir” means “fish-slave” in Turkish; but in fact it is a corruption of the town’s Byzantine-Greek name of Palaeokastron(“old castle”).