Turkey’s Venezia — Gölyazı: One of the Most Beautiful European Town of Turkey

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The city of Turkey, Bursa, is one of the most historical cities of Turkey. Both inside the city centre and around, there are plenty of historical, natural, and modern beauties to see. So, here is one of them: Gölyazı Town!

Gölyazı has been selected as one of the 30 most beautiful towns in Europe.
Gölyazı has been selected as one of the 30 most beautiful towns in Europe.

This Bursa’s countryside Gölyazı is definitely a perfect spot to spend a couple of hours. Gölyazı is a very small tiny town where you can wander the whole peninsula in 30 minutes. If you want to move away from Istanbul’s crowd and noise, Gölyazı is your place for a small weekend escapade.

One of the Most Beautiful 30 Towns of Europe

Gölyazı has been selected as one of the most beautiful 30 towns in Europe. Indeed, some states that Gölyazı is Turkey’s Venezia! So, it is a very significant place to see in Turkey. This tiny little town is as close as a short ride west of Bursa. What’s more, Gölyazı takes place on a small island in a large lake, Lake Uluabat (Uluabat Gölü).

Gölyazı takes place on a small island in a large lake, Lake Uluabat (Uluabat Gölü).
Gölyazı takes place on a small island in a large lake, Lake Uluabat (Uluabat Gölü).

It takes barely 15 minutes to walk around the entire town. There’s a bridge that passes from the mainland to the island. So, which makes Gölyazı a peninsula instead of an island. You can walk on a road that follows most of the perimeter of the island and through the few streets in the middle.

A Brief History of Gölyazı Town

Gölyazı was founded by the Ancient Greeks. However, the Roman period had also significant importance in the town. But unfortunately, remains of the Roman period are abundant and were not able to arrive today.

Every year the town holds the Stork Festival and until the 20th century, Greeks and Manavlar (a nomadic Turkish community) lived together. In ancient times it was known as Apolloniatis The name Gölyazı which nowadays means Fisherwoman.

You can enjoy the tranquillity in Gölyazı.
You can enjoy the tranquillity in Gölyazı.

Miletus possibly founded Gölyazı as a colony. Coins supported the antiquity of the city. From as early as 450 B.C., Gölyazı bears the anchor symbol of Apollo. And some scholars have attributed to this Apollonia. The city experienced prosperity under the Attalids during Hellenistic times.

A white cover turns Gölyazı into a picture of beauty in Winter.
A white cover turns Gölyazı into a picture of beauty in Winter.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the city and during the Byzantine period. It belonged to the Diocese of Bithinya, then Nicomedia. In 1302 the Ottoman king Osman I took refuge in the castle after the Battle of Bapheus but retreated.

Things to Do and Places to See in Gölyazı

There are no many things to do in Gölyazı and that’s the beauty of it. You must enjoy the scenery of the lake and the mountains in the distance. Moreover, you can say “Merhaba” (hello in Turkish) to the locals. Besides all, you should definitely eat gözleme. Undoubtedly, there will be some locals who will be curious about your visit and offer you gözleme even in their homes!

You must taste gözleme while drinking your tea with the view of Lake Uluabat.
You must taste gözleme while drinking your tea with the view of Lake Uluabat.

As we pointed out before, it takes barely 15 minutes to walk around the entire town. There’s a bridge that passes from the mainland to the island. You can walk on a road that follows most of the perimeter of the island and through the few streets in the middle.

Discover the Peninsula’s Around with a Boat Ride

If you’re lucky enough, you might meet a local person willing to take you on a boat ride around the island. Thus, thanks to this boat ride, you will have the chance to see Gölyazı from the Lake Uluabat. Furthermore, you may also land on other islands on the lake.

Boat trip in Gölyazı is a perfect option to discover around.
Boat trip in Gölyazı is a perfect option to discover around.

As for Lake Uluabat, it is a very large lake with cold water. The lake is surprisingly about 3 – 4m deep at its deepest point. A lot of locals make a living by fishing in the lake.

A 700-Year-Old Witness of The History: Crying Plane Tree (Ağlayan Çınar)

One of the most popular sites in Gölyazı is the Crying Plane Tree (Ağlayan Çınar). The tree is over 700 years old and there is a gaping hole in the trunk. It’s located on the mainland end of the bridge. Next to it, there is a restaurant with excellent home-cooked meals, çay (tea), and Türk kahvesi (Turkish coffee).

700-year-old Gölyazı's Crying Plane Tree.
700-year-old Gölyazı’s Crying Plane Tree.

Church of St. George

The most important site is the former Greek Orthodox church of St. George. Gölyazı was once a majority Greek town, but the residents were sent to Greece during the population exchange of 1923, right after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. The church was in ruins but has since been restored.

Church of St. George is the most important historical site in Gölyazı.
Church of St. George is the most important historical site in Gölyazı.

The Lost History of Gölyazı

You wouldn’t know it by looking, but Gölyazı was once an important ancient Greek colony called Apollonia-on-the-Rhyndacus (Απολλωνία επί Ρυνδάκω). Ruins of the ancient city walls take place near the mosque on the island. There was also a Byzantine monastery and its name is St. Constantine on another small island nearby. It survived the Ottoman conquest and is still intact today.

Ruins of the ancient city walls take place near the mosque on the island.
Ruins of the ancient city walls take place near the mosque on the island.

How to Go to Gölyazı?

As Gölyazı is situated in Lake Uluabat, transportation is very easy and there are several ways to go there. Gölyazı takes place 40 km away from Bursa’s city centre. To see on the map, click the Gölyazı/GoogleMaps.

If you are going to Gölyazı with your private car, you should follow Bursa-Izmir highway. After you see the sign of Lake Uluabat, you will take that road. It takes 1 hour from Bursa and 2.30 hours from Istanbul (200 km). In case of using public transportation, there are shuttle busses from Nilüfer province of Bursa. It will cost you around 15-20 TRY.

And from Izmir, it takes 3.30 hours and the distance is approximately 300 km. After leaving behind Karacabey district, you will see that the road splitting and then must take the side road which directly goes to Gölyazı village. There are also traffic signs that show Crying Plane Tree.

Plus: Gölyazı was one of the hosting locations for the Turkish TV series Şahsiyet (Persona) which brought International Emmy Award to Haluk Bilginer for the Best Actor.

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