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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I finally came to a modest gated complex holding the tomb of Ertuğrul Gazi.
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.
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.
Hanımı Halime Hatun, the wife of Ertuğrul Gazi, is buried outside of the tomb in a simple grave.
After visiting the tomb, I waited outside the complex for the next bus passing through to Bilecik.