Osmaneli is a town in the Eastern Marmara region of Turkey, in the valley of the Sakarya River, with a population in 2020 of 15,598. The reason to visit is for its old town, with many traditional buildings.
Osmaneli formerly had a large Greek population and was known as Leukai or Lefke, meaning "poplars". The Sakarya river is not navigable but carves a valley through the hills. The town was therefore on one of the overland trade routes towards Constantinople / Istanbul from the plains of Anatolia, and silk was cultivated here.
Modern routes passed far to the north and the town became a backwater, though this helped to preserve its old architecture. Much of this was lost in the great fire of 1874, but some has been saved or restored. Osmaneli today makes its living from agriculture, especially from fruit & veg cultivated along the valley.
By car follow D650 between Adapazarı and Bilecik. From Istanbul follow O-7 (toll) to Adapazarı to join D650 southwards.
Osmaneli is difficult to reach by public transport - the inter-city bus lines don't come this way. You might need to travel via Bilecik 35 km south, which has YHT high speed trains every hour or two between Istanbul, Ankara and Konya. A bus runs every hour or two between Bilecik and Osmaneli, taking 45 min.
A bus also runs every two hours from Iznik, taking 40 min.
Osmaneli lost its railway service in 2020, which is unlikely to resume. The axe was already hovering over the Boğaziçi Ekspresi before the onset of Covid, as the YHT line takes a different route and the old railway was seen as redundant. The disused station is in the northeast corner of town: nearby cafes have folded.
Walk: the old town is 500 m west of the main bus stop on Ankara Cd.
- Old town was mostly destroyed in 1874, and the area along the main street and north is modern. Walk west into the neighbourhoods of Camii Kebir and Camii Cedid for traditional Ottoman white-washed two-storey houses.
- 1 St George Church (Aya Yorgi Kilisesi), Meşrutiyet Cd. This is the hollow but imposing ruin of a Greek Orthodox church, built after the fire of 1874 destroyed its wooden predecessor and much of the town. It fell derelict after 1923 when the Greeks were deported from Turkey in a population exchange. Stylistically it follows a European rectangular pattern rather than the classical cruciate basilica.
- 2 Rüstem Paşa Mosque is the grandest of the town mosques, built in 1542 and in good condition.
Cyclists who want to test their mettle can try the hairpin road southwest up to Balçıkhisar.
- Migros is the largest supermarket, just north of the main street on Hürriyet Cd and open daily 09:00-22:00.
- Şok and A101 are other chains with stores dotted about town.
There's a cluster of cheap eateries in town centre south of the main street. They include Tadım Döner, Kuzular Caybahcesi, Uğur Salonu, Teyyare Meydan Lokantası, Kardeşler lokantası, Ünsa Salonu, Hacıalioğlu Çiğ Köfte, Karadeniz Unlu Mamulleri, and Nefis Pide Lahmacun.
Many restaurants and cafes serve beer but there isn't a free-standing pub.
Plans to tap the spa waters in the hills have so far come to nothing.
- 1 Kelemcioğlu Otel, Camikebir Uluğbey Sk 2, ☏ . Clean comfy place in town centre. B&B double 500 TL.
- Osmaneli By Asım Azapoğlu Butik Otel, Şehit Ömer Halisdemir Sk 12 (next to Kelemcioğlu Otel), ☏ . Similar price and quality to Kelemcioğlu next door. B&B double 500 TL.
Osmaneli and its approach highway D650 have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Oct 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
- İznik is a historic town 30 km west, famous for its decorative tiles. Here was held the Ecumenical Council of Nicea, which first codified the Christian religion.
- Adapazarı is the big city north. You might have to travel that way, but you'd only linger if you had business in the automobile industry.
- Bilecik, the provincial capital to the south, also has traditional Ottoman houses.
- Eskişehir is the university city where you break out of the hills onto the plains of Anatolia.
|Routes through Osmaneli|
|Ends at (E) ← Adapazarı ←||N S||→ Bozüyük ( W / E) → Kütahya|
|Orhangazi ← İznik ←||W E||→ Taraklı → Ends at|