To overcome the natural barrier that the Ergene River forms which hindered a quick connection with his possessions west, and stalled further expansion of his empire into the Balkans, the Ottoman sultan Murad II (r. 1421–1451) decided to have a bridge built. As well, he had founded a town on the southern end of his new bridge, on what was then desolate plains, naming both the bridge and the town as Cisr-i Ergene (Ottoman Turkish for "the bridge of Ergene"). Eventually, the colloquial name, Uzunköprü, literally "the long bridge," stuck, for the town as well as for the bridge.
Uzunköprü is nowadays a town of about 40,000 people, on the banks of the Ergene River, one of the major rivers of the regions and a tributary of the Meriç/Evros River.
A minibus fleet, arriving at the town's 1 bus station at the side of the bridge, connects with the major towns in Thrace, such as Edirne, Keşan (every half an hour, 45 min, 9 TL), and Çorlu (every 15 min, 2½ hours, through Lüleburgaz and Babaeski), although surprisingly not with nearby Hayrabolu and Tekirdağ further southeast. Long-distance buses run by the Metro and İstanbul Seyahat companies also connect with Istanbul.
Uzunköprü lies near the main north-south highway D550/E87, which links Edirne (66 km) with Keşan (and Çanakkale beyond). The new highway, including a modern viaduct of similar length with the old bridge, bypasses the town several kilometres to east now, so for the stone bridge and the rest of the town, you should drive into the direction signposted Şehir Merkezi ("city centre").
There is also a secondary road approaching from Hayrabolu in the east.
- 2 Uzunköprü railway station (Uzunköprü garı), İstasyon Yolu. Located in the village of Demirtaş about five kilometers north of the city centre, just off the highway from Edirne.
The only realistic reason to visit the town is the long bridge, and all other sights are quite minor.
- 1 Long Bridge (Uzunköprü) (just north of the town). Thrace is easily the region adorned with the highest density of Ottoman-era stone bridges in Turkey, as it was on the major routes linking the European parts of the empire with the capital in Constantinople. While some, such as the Büyükçekmece Bridge in the outskirts of Istanbul or the Meriç Bridge in Edirne are more elegant, the long bridge, with its 174 arches spanning a length of 1.33 km over the Ergene River and the marshy meadows along it (which are farmed into rice paddies nowadays), is certainly the longest, and having been built between 1426 and 1443, is older than all others, at least by a century. While pedestrians are free to cross the bridge walking, the raised pavements on sides are narrow and you have to share the bridge with vehicles (so always keep on the left side so you can face the incoming traffic); and unfortunate for them, the bridge is easiest to appreciate not from crossing over it, and not from the southern side nearer the town, but below it, and from the further, northern side, from where you will see a road also accessible by cars arriving right on to the banks of the rushing river (which is in an extreme state of pollution by the time it reaches the legs of the long bridge due to the textile plants many tens of kilometres upstream near Çorlu and Çerkezköy, fully black in colour and far more foamy than could be expected from at least a moderately unpolluted river, but with a noticeable lack of stench at least in colder months), passing along several of the arches that rest on solid earth. Once by the river, you will be below the hump formed by the three taller and larger arches that are over the actual water crossing, and here raise your eyes to see a couple of many flower and animal carvings that ornate the outer sides of the bridge parapets, which are said to be in the exact number of the builders that died in accidents during the construction of the bridge, and commemorating them.
- 2 Freedom Monument (Özgürlük Anıtı) (on the southern, town side, end of the bridge). While this smallish arched structure standing on four Ionic-like legs and a solid cubic base, now over a century old, may not be that important architecturally (but it's certainly not ugly either), it's one of the very few monuments in Turkey that celebrates the restoration of the constitutional monarchy in 1908 (which is all but forgotten almost everywhere else, which is not surprising, since the following two decades brought about almost constant war and destruction, and yet another revolution—the complete overthrow of the Sultanate and the foundation of the Republic—in Turkey). On its each four side, it proclaims one of the four ideals of the Ottoman constitution (heavily inspired by the French Revolution) in Ottoman Turkish (using Arabic script): Hürriyet (Freedom), Adalet (Justice), Müsavet (Equality), and Uhuvvet (Brotherhood).
- 3 Aziz Ioannis Church (Aziz İoannis Kilisesi), Gazi Mahmut Sk (on the first eastwards street south of the bridge, 300 mt east from the high street). This church dedicated to Aziz İoannis (St John) is a relic from the days when the town had a Greek Orthodox community prior to the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922. Derelict for decades, it has undergone a fine renovation, and named a cultural centre, but it's unlikely that you will find its doors open during your short stay.
- Town library (İlçe Kütüphanesi), Gazi Cd (on the high street, 100 mt south of the bridge). A small beautiful building of two storeys built in the First National Architectural Movement style of the early 20th century.
On Fridays, a market is held on the plazza near the southern end of the bridge.
- 1 Market place.
The local meatballs (Uzunköprü köftesi) are reportedly the best in the region, which is quite famous for its meat-based meals.
Uzunköprü is an easy day-trip from the surrounding towns (such as Edirne), but local accommodation is also available if for some reason you need to linger on.
- 1 Çakıcı Hotel, İnönü Cd 25 (on the riverfront street, 350 m west of the southern end of the bridge), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A hotel in a new building offering rooms with free wi-fi, satellite TV, air-con.
The local area code is 284.
- Edirne, the beautiful riverside city chock full of history to the north is the obvious next destination if you haven't arrived from that direction. You might have a stop over at the small town of Havsa on the way, which has a small mosque and adjoining bazaar designed by Sinan, the Ottoman architect of the 16th century.
- Keşan to the south is a major transportation hub with links to Enez on the north Aegean coast, other villages and resorts on the Saros Bay, and further south (the town of Gelibolu, Gallipoli World War I memorials, and Çanakkale on the Asian mainland across the Straits of Dardanelles).
- The Greek border is 6 km away from Uzunköprü, but there is no service to get to the rail border crossing nearby, so the nearest open border crossings are located at İpsala near Keşan in the south, or Pazarkule near Edirne in the north.
|Routes through Uzunköprü|
|Burgas ← Kırklareli ← Junction (W/E) ←||N S||→ Keşan → Çanakkale|