“It’s not Eskişehir (Old City) any more, it’s Yenişehir (New City),” or so say the wags at the otogar, and really they do have a point. Not so long ago Eskişehir was a town that most visitors barely thought of including on their itineraries. It was not that there was anything actually wrong with it, rather than it was a nothingy town of concrete high-rises, of interest only to those with an overwhelming passion for meerschaum pipes who could sate their lust in the small museum and then take a bus ride out to one of the villages where the white gold was mined.

Now, though, all that has changed in large part due to the energy of a visionary mayor, Mr Yılmaz Büyükerşen, who cleaned up the dirty canal to install Amsterdam-style pleasure cruisers, oversaw the introduction of a super-smooth tram to whisk visitors from the otogar to the town centre, then turned his attentions to the Odunpazarı (Wood Market), the neglected old Ottoman quarter which was still full of crumbling wooden houses. Hundreds of these have now been restored (more accurately rebuilt) to create a colourful, cobblestoned neighbourhood which, if it feels a little toytown for the time being, will no doubt bed down to provide the perfect focus for visitors.

 Written: 6 March 2011



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