now called İznik,
is a farming town surrounded by massive medieval
walls set on the shore of
lake 63 km (39 miles) southeast of Yalova (map).
Christian ecumenical councils were
held here, the 1st in 325, and the
7th in 787.
The Hagia Sophia
Church right at the city center
was the scene of the 7th council.
In 1331, Orhan Gazi had it converted to a mosque. In the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, the sultan's great architect, Mimar Sinan, made some additions and modifications to improve its function as a house of worship.
Badly ruined sometime thereafter (perhaps by earthquakes), it was restored to its former shape beginning in 2007, and re-opened as a mosque in November 2011, which means you can now enter and get a good idea of the building's earlier Byzantine form.
Mosque (Yeşil Cami) is a fine Seljuk
Turkish-influenced work. Across
the street is an Ottoman imaret (soup
kitchen) that now houses the city's
In 2014 the remains of a 1,600-year-old Byzantine basilica were discovered a short distance offshore in İznik Lake. Constructed in the 330s in honor of St. Neophytos, who was martyred on this spot by the Romans, the church was destroyed by an earthquake in 740 AD/CE. Preservation efforts now underway will lead to its preservation as an underwater museum.
the outskirts of the town is a rare Byzantine underground
tomb (Yeraltı Mezar).
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best way to see İznik is on the way
from Istanbul to Bursa (map).
Take a fast
catamaran ferry in the morning
from Istanbul's Yenikapı
ferry terminal across
of Marmara to Yalova,
then a bus or minibus to İznik (they
wait right at the ferry dock in Yalova),
and after seeing the walls, mosques
İznik, take a minibus to Bursa and
stay overnight. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan
Distances & Travel
km (42 miles) SW, 1.5 hours
ferry to/from Yalova (1
hr); otherwise, 248 km (154 miles)
NW, 4 hours, by road via Sakarya
(Adapazarı) and Kocaeli (İzmit).
km (45 miles) SE, 1.5 hours
km (37 miles) NW, 1 hour
—by Tom Brosnahan