The Birthplace of the Ottoman Empire

Nobody would ever expect such a powerful empire to come from such humble beginnings. The small town of Söğüt bore witness to the birth of the Ottoman Empire.

Söğüt was known as Thivasio (Θηβάσιο) until it was conquered by Ertuğrul Gazi in 1231. In 1299, his son Osman I declared independence from the ruling Selçuk Turks, thus founding the Ottoman Empire and becoming the first Ottoman sultan. Söğüt was the Ottoman capital until 1325 when it moved to Bursa.

I visited Söğüt on a day trip from Eskişehir. At the bus station in Eskişehir, there are frequent minibuses that travel to Söğüt. Check the schedule here (in Turkish).

The ride took just over an hour and dropped me off on the outskirts of town near a monument of Ertuğrul Gazi. The monument stands at a major crossroads where I took a left and walked about five minutes into the heart of town.

Ertuğrul Gazi monument in Söğüt, Turkey

Ertuğrul Gazi monument

The main square is pleasant. It contains a beautiful fountain, Kaymakam Çeşmesi, which was built by Kaymakam Sait Bey in 1914 and is decorated with Kütahya tiles. There’s also another monument to Ertuğrul Gazi.

Kaymakam Çeşmesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Kaymakam Çeşmesi

Kaymakam Çeşmesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Kaymakam Çeşmesi

Ertuğrul Gazi monument in Söğüt, Turkey

Ertuğrul Gazi monument

A large mosque also sits on the square. Çelebi Sultan Mehmet Camii was built in 1414 and renovated by Sultan Abdülhamit II in the 20th century. Click here for a virtual tour.

Çelebi Sultan Mehmet Camii in Söğüt, Turkey

Çelebi Sultan Mehmet Camii

From the square, I continued along the main road through town until I found the ethnographic museum on the left hand side. I couldn’t visit because I arrived well before opening hours.

Ethnographic Museum in Söğüt, Turkey

Ethnographic Museum

A little bit further up on the right I found Çifte Minareli Hamidiye Camii, a mosque built in 1905. Directly across from the mosque are two more recent Ottoman buildings, a school and orphanage.

Çifte Minareli Hamidiye Camii in Söğüt, Turkey

Çifte Minareli Hamidiye Camii

Ottoman school in Söğüt, Turkey

Ottoman school

The main attraction in Söğüt is about a 15 minute walk from the main town. On the way, I passed the Pilav Günü Alanı. Every second weekend in September, a rice festival takes place there to commemorate Ertuğrul Gazi.

Pilav Günü Alanı in Söğüt, Turkey

Pilav Günü Alanı

I finally came to a modest gated complex holding the tomb of Ertuğrul Gazi.

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi

Ertuğrul Gazi inherited the Kayı tribe of Oğuz Turks in 1230 and came into Anatolia from Turkmenistan. He was born in 1188 and ruled the tribe for 50 years until his death in 1281. His tomb is surrounded by flags of several Turkic nations. There are also soil samples from every Ottoman land and Turkic nation next to the tomb. Click here for a virtual tour.

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi

One interesting thing I noticed was a steel shutter littered with bullet holes. A label indicates that Greek soldiers used the tomb as target practice during their occupation of Söğüt in 1921.

Bullet holes from Greek soldiers at Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Bullet holes from Greek soldiers

Hanımı Halime Hatun, the wife of Ertuğrul Gazi, is buried outside of the tomb in a simple grave.

Tomb of Hanımı Halime Hatun at Ertuğrul Gazi Türbesi in Söğüt, Turkey

Tomb of Hanımı Halime Hatun

After visiting the tomb, I waited outside the complex for the next bus passing through to Bilecik.

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