Kütahya is a city in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, with a population in 2022 of 578,640. It's industrial but has a well-preserved old quarter, and is renowned for its decorated tiles.
Kütahya is also the name of the province. Of the other towns, the one most worth visiting (usually as a day-trip from the city) is Çavdarhisar for the Roman ruins of Aizanoi.
Kütahya is at an elevation of 970 m, so it's routinely below freezing in winter, and summers are dry with temperatures approaching 40°C. It's in a valley hemmed in by mountains, so it's on a trade route, and industrial smog gets trapped above it.
In antiquity this was Kotyaion (Κοτύαιον), the city of Kotys - she was a war goddess whose riotous, licentious worship would outdo any modern resort nightclub. The region was called Phrygia, which the Romans took over and divided. They assigned Kotyaion to Phrygia Salutaris, the healthy bit, since presumably they couldn't put it in Phrygia Pacatiana, the peaceful bit. It was on the edge of several empires and was captured by many - including by the proto-Mughals under Timur. One of the longer-lasting reigns was the Germiyanid kingdom of the 14th / 15th centuries, in turn overthrown by their northern neighbours the Ottomans. In 1514 the Ottomans captured Tabriz in Persia and copied a trick of Timur in bringing its artisans, especially tile-makers, to embellish their home cities. Many were Armenian Christians, who established workships here and in Iznik. These towns already made Çini - china-style ceramics - but now the artistry and production boomed.
The Armenians fled in the pogroms of 1915 / 16 and the tile-making trade collapsed, taking 50 years to recover. Kütahya made a living from industry based on agriculture, and from standard bathroom tiles, but it was bypassed by better transport routes to the north. Travellers and freight between Istanbul and Ankara now ply the motorways, and the railway junction city of Eskişehir grew as Kütahya waned. It's a provincial place with few international visitors, though the establishment in 1992 of Dumlupınar University has given it more buzz.
1 The clocktower (Saat Kulesi) is the city's central landmark, on the east side of Zafer Meydanı, Victory Square. Locals refer to the spot as Vazo, the Vase, for the tiled monument on the traffic roundabout - this is 3 m high but less easy to spot if you're new to town.
The provincial governership (Valilik) is in a kitsch, faux Ottoman-arched building west side of the square, while the town council (Belediye) occupy a modern building east side. All the main streets converge here. Atatürk Bulvarı heads north to the bus station and becomes the main highway to Eskişehir. Abdurrahman Kara Ağa Bulvarı (commonly İstasyon Cd, Station Street) leads northeast to the railway station. Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Republic Street, starts southwest but turns into the pedestrianised Lise Cd, towards Old Town, Great Mosque and the castle. Adnan Menderes Bulvarı runs west and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bulvarı runs east.
The 1 bus station is 4 km northeast on D230 towards Eskişehir. It's a modern building with a few small shops (including for the inevitable tiles), cafe, toilets and left luggage. It's usually fairly clean. The old city centre otogar has been demolished.
Frequent minibuses take 15 min to the centre. Your inter-city bus ticket should be good for this transfer, check when buying.
Izmir Mavi runs daily from Ankara at 19:00 via Eskişehir at 22:15 to reach Kütahya at 23:30. It trundles on south overnight via Tavansanli, Balıkesir, Soma, Akhisar and Manisa to arrive at Izmir Basmane at 09:30. The northbound train leaves Izmir at 18:00 to reach Kütahya at 04:00, Eskişehir at 05:30 and Ankara at 08:30.
Pamukkale Ekspresi runs daily from Eskişehir around 10:30 to reach Kütahya at 12:00 and continues south via Afyonkarahisar and Sandikli to Denizli, arriving near 19:00. The northbound train leaves Denizli before 08:00 to reach Kütahya around 14:30 and Eskişehir around 16:00.
Three regional trains also run daily from Eskişehir, taking 70 min to Kütahya, and one continues to Afyon.
2 Kütahya railway station, elegantly tiled, is 1 km east of city centre, at the end of Abdurrahman Kara Ağa Blvd, across the main highway D650.
From either Istanbul or Ankara head towards Eskişehir, then pick up D230 / D650 south. This winds through the canyons but is a good divided highway. D650 continues south from Kütahya all the way to Antalya.
From Izmir take E96 / D300 east towards Uşak and branch off onto D595 / D240.
3 Zafer Havalimanı (KZR IATA Victory Airport) (45 km southeast of the city). The airport has flights from both Istanbul airports: from IST IATA by Turkish Airlines, and from SAW IATA by Pegasus. Havaş buses connect the airport to Kütahya, Afyon and Uşak, departing 25 minutes after each flight arrives. They stop at the university and at their office near "the Vase" before terminating at the bus station.
Walk, the sights are all central, and you're unlikely to use either the dolmuşes (various colours) or yellow city buses.
- 2 Germiyan Street is the best preserved part of old town, a cobbled alley lined by tastefully restored Ottoman-era mansions.
- 3 Green Mosque (Yeşil Cami) was built in 1905. It's the interior that's green, with rich tilework.
- 4 Great Mosque (Ulu Cami), Sultanbağı Cd 2, ☏ . This began construction under Beyazıt the Thunderbolt and was completed in 1401, and rebuilt in the late 19th century. It's a spacious, mostly simple interior, but with elegant tiles around the mihrab. Free.
- Dönenler Mosque, Sultanbağı Cd 2 (east side of Great Mosque). This was built in the 14th century as a lodge for the Mevlevi - the "whirling dervishes" - and later converted into a mosque.
- Museum of Archaeology, Sultanbağı Cd 5 (south flank of Great Mosque), ☏ . Daily 09:00-12:30, 13:30-17:30. This is housed in a former madrasah built in 1314. It exhibits findings from the neolithic to the Byzantine era - the most impressive is the richly decorated marble sarcophagus from Aizanoi. There are also Byzantine gravestones, coins, earthen pots and amphorae. Adult 15 TL.
- Çini Museum, Gediz Cd 10 (north flank of Great Mosque), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-19:00. Tile museum, in what was the soup-kitchen associated with the mosque. Attractive work, some medieval (including the tomb of the founder, Yakup Çelebi) but much is modern. Free.
- Analıca Mosque 200 m northeast of Grand Mosque is 13th century.
- Kurşunlu Mosque 200 m northwest of Grand Mosque was built in 1377 and restored in 2018.
- 5 Hungarian House (Macar Evi), Gediz Cd 27, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-12:30, 13:30-17:30. Lajos Kossuth became leader of Hungary in the 1840s, but his bid for independence from Austria was defeated after the Russians marched in, and he fled into exile. He lived in this mansion 1850 / 1851, later living in the US, Britain and Italy. The two-storey wooden mansion has been restored to period and dislays his life and times. Free.
- Geology Museum, Şengül Sk 26 (a block south of Hungarian House). This is in an ancient hamam. It displays minerals and is mostly about Turkey's mining industry. Free.
- 6 Kütahya Castle, Büyük Hisar Sk. 24 hrs. Looming high on an outcrop west of the old town, these ramparts had several phases of construction, starting under the Byzantines, and with a major upgrade in the 15th century. And then there's the crowning glory, the oh-so-1970s Döner Gazino, complete with revolving restaurant. At least this ensures plenty of parking if you drive up rather than take the steep walk. Free.
- 7 Tile Mosque (Çinili Cami), Avganoğlu Sk 23. Closed. This was built in 1973 in a Central Asian style, with deep blue / turquoise tiles covering all its exterior walls, dome and minaret. It's been closed for restoration for some years, with no completion date in sight.
- Aizanoi 60 km southwest is usually done as a day trip from Kütahya, as there are few amenities in the adjacent village of Çavdarhisar.
- Hot springs and hamams: this is a geothermal area.
- Football: Kütahyaspor play soccer in TFF Third League, Turkey's fourth tier. Their home ground is Dumlupınar Stadium (capacity 11,500), 500 m southeast of town centre.
- Supermarkets: Migros is the most central, just north of "the vase" behind Hilton Garden Inn. It's open daily 09:00-22:00.
- Banks and ATMs also cluster in this area.
- Tiles (çini) are the big thing here. They come in three grades. Turist işi is the basic stuff in souvenir shops. If you're looking for something that the cat will knock off the table or the kids crack in cookery experiments, go for these, and haggle. Fabrika işi is quality work prepared by apprentices under the supervision of a çinici, a master maker, and his / her own personal work is özel iş. There are shops just north of the Vazo at the beginning of Atatürk Blv, and south towards old town. Çiniciler Çarşısı ("Tile Bazaar") is on the retail park 5 km out on the Eskişehir highway. Think about the weight in your home-bound luggage, and the average baggage-handler's limited appreciation of the grades of traditional tiles. All the produce is modern, and if it's touted as antique, with any luck it's fake. If you're unlucky, you'll be in big trouble for trying to export a genuine antiquity.
- Antepli Mehmet Lezzet Diyari, Lise Cd 7/A, ☏ . Daily 09:00-21:30. Pleasant family-oriented restaurant at foot of Old Town.
- M&N fish restaurant is next door at Lise Cd 3.
- Others south and west of the Vase are Osmanli Kebap, Mis Gözleme and Santral Iskembe Salonu.
- North around Atatürk Blvd is the main strip, with Amir Tantuni, Nora Bistro within the Hilton, Star Gözleme, Pita Kitchen, Fesleğen (below), MPlus Cafe and Hatay Döner.
- Fesleğen Restoran, Merkez Sk 29, ☏ . Daily 09:00-22:00. Smart efficient place serving regional fare.
- North along Atatürk Blvd are Adıyamanlı Çiğ Köfteci Erkan Usta, the Hilton bar, Kokoreç11 Bozüyüklü Alihan Usta, and Tombiş.
- No 1 Pub is a block west of the clocktower on Akabe Sk.
- Gülpalas Otel, Zafer Meydani (south side of main square), ☏ . Clean friendly central hotel. B&B double 500 TL.
- Çinili Otel 2 is a very basic place next to Gülpalas.
- Hilton Garden Inn, Atatürk Bulvarı 21 (just north of main square), ☏ . Central modern hotel, clean and comfy. B&B double 1500 TL.
- 1 Qtahya Otel, Atatürk Bulvarı 56, ☏ . Basic hotel, small rooms smelling of cigarettes, cleaning erratic. B&B double 600 TL.
- 2 Kütahya Menderes Otel, Menderes Cd 71, ☏ . Good value at this family-oriented hotel 1 km from main square. B&B double 500 TL.
- Nehir Termal is a spa hotel, west edge of town on Şair Ali Pesendi Cd. It wasn't open in 2022.
Kütahya and its approach roads have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of July 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- Aizanoi 60 km southwest is worth a day-trip. The highlight is the Temple of Zeus.
- Afyonkarahisar is another traditional city, with historic houses and hilltop castle.
- Eskişehir is a university city and transport hub with a small preserved old quarter.
|Routes through Kütahya|
|Adapazarı ← Osmaneli ← Bozüyük ( W / E) ←||N S||→ Afyonkarahisar → Antalya|
|Edremit ← Balıkesir ←||W E||→ Eskişehir → Ends at|
|Bergama ← Çavdarhisar ←||W E||→ Ends at|