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Manisa is a city in the Central Aegean region of Turkey, on the slopes of Mount Spil or Sipylus 65 km northeast of Izmir. It's modern and industrial but has many old mosques. In 2021 Manisa province had a population of 1,456,626, with 257,993 in Yunusemre the district covering most of the city.


Weeping Rock

The original Magnesia is the Greek region of Thessaly. Its inhabitants moved here in 190 BC and founded the city of Magnesia ad Sipylum, specifying the mountain to distinguish it from their older settlement of Magnesia on the Maeander to the south. It was built over the ruins of the Hittite city of Tantalus, in a defensible position on the mountainside, with a good water supply and fertile plains around. The local soils have mineral ores, hence the name of magnesia or periclase (MgO / Mg(OH)2) and of magnesium the metal extracted from it. They also have natural lodestones, used for early compasses hence "magnet", but these are iron ores and magnesium is only weakly magnetic.

The city's foundation was marked by a nearby battle, when Scipio crushed the Seleucid forces of Antiochus III and brought the region under Roman control. Loyal cities were rewarded, and Magnesia remained important right through the Byzantine period — indeed it was for a time the capital-in-exile. It fell to the Ottomans in 1390: they embellished it and used it as a training ground for their princes to learn the art of imperial administration.

Magnesia sprawled out from its mountainside core onto the plain, and (like Izmir / Smyrna) was a cosmopolitan merchant city until the early 20th century, when inter-ethnic violence grew. After Turkey was defeated in the First World War, Greece invaded, but Turkey countered in what became the War of Independence. In 1922 retreating Greek forces carried out a scorched-earth policy, destroying the town almost completely. It was renamed Manisa in 1927 and is nowadays a modern industrial town, but its mosques have been restored.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Izmir (ADB IATA) is the nearest airport. It has daily flights from Istanbul, Ankara and other Turkish cities, and occasionally from international destinations.

By bus[edit]

Buses from Istanbul towards Izmir call at Manisa, taking 6 hr 30 min via Bursa and Balıkesir, for a fare in 2022 of 450 TL. They run hourly or better. Operators include Metro Turizm and Flixbus; the Pamukkale buses fly past on the motorway and don't call here.

There is a very frequent bus and dolmuş service between Izmir and Manisa, taking 35 min. Take a local bus, inter-city bus companies won't sell tickets for this short hop.

1 Otobus Terminal is the station for inter-city buses, 2 km north of the centre at the junction of D565 and the ring road.

2 Otogar for local buses is on Mimar Sinan Bvd northwest side of town centre.

By train[edit]

There are four trains a day from Izmir Basmane, taking 90 min, and continuing to Konya, or to Soma and Balıkesir then either north to Bandırma (for ferries to Istanbul) or east to Kütahya, Eskişehir and Ankara.

The overnight train from Ankara is İzmir Mavi Treni (Blue Train), departing at 21:00 to reach Eskişehir at midnight, Manisa at 09:00 and Izmir at 10:30.

Ege Ekspresi (Aegean Express) is a daytime train from Eskişehir (which has YHT trains from Istanbul, Ankara and Konya). It departs at noon to reach Manisa at 21:00 and Izmir at 22:40.

17 Eylül Ekpresi (17th of September Express) leaves Bandırma at 16:00, so you can connect by ferry same-day from Istanbul. It reaches Manisa at 20:30 and Izmir at 22:00.

Konya Mavi Treni leaves Konya at 19:00 and runs via Afyon and Uşak to reach Manisa at 06:00 and Izmir at 07:30.

The regional train between Izmir, Manisa, Salihli and Alaşehir remains suspended in 2022.

See Turkish State Railways TCDD[dead link] for timetables, fares and online tickets.

The 3 railway station is 500 m northeast of town centre.

By road[edit]

Manisa stands on the historic Istanbul to Izmir road. You approach from the north on O-5 toll motorway, or the old road E881. O-5 nowadays bypasses some distance from Manisa, avoiding the mountain, so you need to exit south of Akhisar onto D565 and follow this into town. Stay on it southwest to continue into Izmir.

Get around[edit]

The central sights are easy to walk around, as are those on the hill (such Weeping Rock) 1 km south of downtown.

Town buses ply the main streets. A dozen lines run out to the inter-city bus station, which on timetables is shown as Yeni (New) Garaj or Terminal.


Courtyard of the Hatuniye Mosque
  • 1 Sultan Mosque, Izmir Cd 38. 24 hr. Centrepiece of town, this is a striking 16th century mosque and religious complex built for Ayşe Hafsa Sultan, mother of Süleyman the Magnificent. Within the complex (külliye), the hospital (darüşşifa) specialised in mental iillness. Free.
  • Medical History Museum west side of Sultan Mosque is entered from 2502 Sk. It's open daily 09:00-17:00, free.
  • Muradiye Mosque, 1905 Sk 47 (one block south of Sultan Mosque). 24 hr. Mosque designed by the renowned Mimar Sinan and completed in 1586. Its interior is richly decorated with Iznik tiles. The medrese also survives, and the soup kitchen (imaret) is the archaeological museum. Free. Muradiye Mosque, Manisa on Wikipedia
  • Archaeological Museum in the Muradiye soup kitchen remains closed in 2022.
  • 2 Hatuniye Mosque, Atatürk Bvd 1. 24 hr. Bright red sandstone mosque built around 1500. Buried in the garden is Mehmed Rushdi Pasha (1811-1882), who had five spells as Grand Vizier of Turkey. Free.
  • 3 Rum Mehmet Pasha Bazaar off Çarşı Bvd is a 15th century market hall. In 2022 it's being converted into a wedding venue, so it's lost its bazaar atmosphere.
  • 4 Cumhuriyet Hamamı off Çarşı Bvd are traditional Turkish baths, built in 1574 and fed by mountain springs. They're still in use but dilapidated, and you'd probably feel more in need of a bath after visiting than before.
  • 5 Manisa Mevlevihanesi, 1006 Sk. Daily 09:00-17:00. Built in 1368, this was a lodge for the Mevlevi, the Sufi Islamic group known in the west as "whirling dervishes". The building is now a museum. You'll often find wedding parties having their photos taken, as next door is a wedding venue or Düğün Salonu. Free.
  • 6 Manisa Castle is the fragmentary remains of the ancient city fortifications, an acropolis on the hillside. They've been wrecked and patched up so many times.
  • Ulu Cami (old or great mosque) 100 m north of the castle was built in 1367. It's closed for restoration in 2022.
  • Gülgün Hatun Mosque and Hamam have been restored on Cumludere Cd 100 m north of the viewpoint for Weeping Rock.
  • 7 Weeping Rock (Ağlayan Kaya) is a rock formation south edge of town at the end of Cumludere Cd. It resembles a face, and groundwater seeps from its "eyes". In legend this is Niobe, who got uppity so the gods killed 14 of her children then turned her to stone. One child survived but turned green with the trauma, and was thus named Chloris.
  • 8 Mount Sipylus or Spil (Spil Dağı) is the 1513 m mountain south of town. It's a popular weekend retreat for locals, with forests, wild tulips, herds of wild horses and beautiful scenery. In winter it often has snow. Its upper slopes are a national park, Spil Dağı Millî Parkı. You can drive almost to the summit, then park and hike up the lane for the last km.
  • 9 Cybele is the goddess carved into the cliff face along D250. She was an Anatolian deity, variously depicted as a plump earth-mother, a matronly civic protector, or a wild-child arriving in a lion-powered chariot with music and wine spilling out onto her weirdo companions. In the Roman era she was re-imported here as a goddess of Troy, but this particular carving is Hittite, say 1500 BC. She's 8 m tall but crumbling and her head has cleaved: "wow, what a party."


Sisyphus totes the medicine ball at the gym
  • Turkish baths are available in several spots. The waters are not geothermal or sulphurous, yet you may need to hold your nose.
  • Football: Manisaspor were relegated in 2022 and now play soccer in TFF Second League, the country's third tier. Their home ground 19 May Stadium (capacity 16,600) is 2 km northeast of town centre along Akhisar Cd.
  • Fitness: in legend, Sisyphus was king of Ephyra and often killed guests and travellers to his palace. This earned him poor online reviews, especially from almighty Zeus, but Sisyphus reckoned he could outsmart the gods and on a couple of occasions did so. When he died and came to the underworld, he was assigned forever to roll a boulder up a mountain, whereupon it rolled right back. Scholars long described this as a futile, literally soul-destroying task, but Albert Camus (1913-1960) was the first to see the funny side. Sisyphus had invented fitness centres! Legend does not say which mountain, but this city is associated with Tantalus who was also given a futile punishment, see Drink. Appropriately, Manisa has a couple of dozen gyms: near town centre are Press Box, Best, UltFit Life Kadın, Victoria Gym, Ekol and Onur Park. None mention a pool.


Inside Sultan Mosque
  • Lots of small supermarkets, usually open daily 08:00-22:00. Migros is the main chain.
  • Banks and ATMs line 8 Eylül Cd, which runs east-west through town centre.


Eating places cluster around Konuk Cd, the spine of old town. They include Hatçe Ana Mantı Salonu, Menekşe Kasap Lokantası, Şafak Kebap[dead link], Beyoğlu, Taş Fabrika[dead link], Manisaspor Kebapçısı and Gülcemal.


  • In town centre are Sardes, Dergah and Afitap.
  • Tantalus is the mythical figure who gives his name to "tantalised": he was punished in the underworld by having water always just out of his reach, and low-hanging fruit that always eluded his grasp. He may have a historical basis as a Hittite ruler of Tantalus, the city which preceded Sipylus on the site of Manisa. The cafe-bar of his punishment was in a ravine beneath Hades. According to Iliad, if you dropped an anvil from heaven, it would take nine days to reach earth then another nine days to plummet into the ravine - imprecise directions, but they help narrow it down.


The city seen from Mount Sipylus
  • 1 Asmalıhan Otel, 1101 Sk 1 (on Atatürk Bvd), +90 236 290 1131. This may be your best bet in town centre, simple but clean and efficient. B&B double 500 TL.
  • 2 Double Tree by Hilton, Mimar Sinan Bvd 242 (2 km west of centre), +90 236 999 1111. Boxy modern business hotel, good scores for comfort and service. B&B double 1200 TL.
  • Büyük Saruhan, Nusret Köklü Cd 4 (west side of Hilton off Mimar Sinan Cd), +90 236 233 0272. Another business hotel, mostly good reviews. B&B double 1200 TL.
  • 3 Rose Bay Hotel, 5803 Sk 2 (jcn D565 & D250), +90 236 503 0888. Economy edge of town hotel, convenient for motorists. B&B double 500 TL.


Manisa and its approach roads have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of July 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next[edit]

From the Gymnasium of Sardis
  • Sardis or Sart was the capital city of Lydia, and has extensive Graeco-Roman ruins. It's 62 km east of Manisa, and best done as a day-trip as it has little accommodation or other visitor amenities.
  • Izmir is the lively modern city on the coast, third largest in Turkey. It has few antiquities standing but several museums and other attractions.
  • Istanbul to Izmir is an itinerary across this region, with one branch swinging through Sardis and Manisa.

Routes through Manisa
BursaAkhisar  N  S  IzmirÇeşme

This city travel guide to Manisa is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.