Sea of Marmara, Turkey

The “Marble Sea” gets its romantic name from ancient marble quarries on Marble Island (Marmara Adası).

The Marmara is one of Turkey’s many maritime highways. Fast catamaran ferryboats zoom cars and passengers across it connecting Istanbul‘s Yenikapı Feribot Terminalı and Kabataş docks with the cities of Yalova(for İznik and Bursa), Bursa’s docks at Güzelyalı and Mudanya, and Bandırma (for ÇanakkaleBalıkesir and İzmir) (map).

Here’s where to go and what to see in the region:

Bandırma

A railhead and ferry dock town midway along the south shore, it’s important to the people who live there, but you’ll probably just be passing through on the car/passenger ferry. More…

Bursa

First capital of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa is a historic city perched on the slopes of Uludağ (2543 meters, 8343 feet). Bursa is noted for its beautiful early Ottoman mosquesroast lamb kebapsilk weaving, delicious fruits, camel-skin shadow puppetsand automobile factories. Adjoining Bursa to the west is Çekirge, noted for its hot mineral-water baths since Roman times. More…

Çanakkale

Famed for the cannons in its fortress, which once kept enemy warships from passing through the Dardanelles, Çanakkale is now famous for the car ferries that cross from the Gallipoli peninsula, making it a prime travel nexus. It’s also the best base for visits to the Gallipoli battlefields and to the ruins of ancient TroyMore…

Edirne

A historic city seldom visited by tourists even though it’s an easy day-trip west of Istanbul, Edirne has a good bazaar and many historic mosques, including the Selimiye, the masterwork of the Ottomans’ finest architect, Mimar SinanMore…

Gallipoli

Always of strategic importance, the Gallipoli peninsula is famous for the terrible World War I battles between Allied and Ottoman troops. Today the battlefields are a national park, and a poignant memorial to the half-million casualties and fatalities of the campaign. More…

İznik (Nicaea)

Every Christian knows Nicaea (İznik) because of the Nicene Creed and the two important ecumenical councils held here in the years 325 and 787, but you should come to see its impressive Roman walls, historic mosques, good little museum, beautiful Byzantinetomb, and pretty lakeside setting. More…

Mudanya

Now a ferry port for Bursa, this historic port town is where, on October 11, 1922, an armistice was signed between Turkey and France, Italy and Great Britain, Turkey’s adversaries in World War I and the Turkish War of Independence. More…

Thrace & Dardanelles

The eastern part of the Thracian peninsula is the European portion of Turkey, holding historic Edirne(Adrianople), the Gallipoli peninsula and Dardanelles(Hellespont) strait, and lots of sunflower fields. More…

Yalova

This town on the southeastern shore serves as the port for ferries to and from Istanbul, serving Bursa and İznik(Nicaea). A few kilometers south of Yalova are the hot mineral water baths of Termal, famous since Romantimes. More…


The Sea of Marmara is bordered to the north by the peninsula of Thrace, to the south by the peninsula of Anatolia (Asia Minor), and to the west by the peninsula of Gallipoli. The sea was once rich in fish (and still yields some), and the lands surrounding it are rich agricultural areas which produce sunflowerswine and table grapesgrains, and fruits in abundance.

The Marmara has always had strategic importance because it is the major waterway linking the Black Seaand the Aegean and Mediterranean via the Bosphorusand the Dardanelles. Odysseus (Ulysses) and his mates, Jason and the Argonauts, British World War I submarines and countless other adventurers have sailed across the Marmara on their quests.

—by Tom Brosnahan


Istanbul

Bursa

Gallipoli

Maps of Thrace & Marmara

Sea of Marmara Ferries

Aegean (Western) Turkey

Where to Go

Turkey’s Top Sights

Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan

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