Uşak is an Anatolian city located in an area untouched by tourism, and for good reason. There’s not much of interest in this city to detour travelers, but there’s enough to keep someone busy for a few hours (all in all, it’s skippable). Uşak was known as Timénou Thírai (Τημένου Θύραι) during ancient Greek and Byzantine times
I visited on a long day trip from Kütahya, around three hours each way. It’s a long trip especially for just a day, but the warmth of the people I encountered in the city made it worth my while. Everyone was friendly and welcoming.
As I mentioned, the highlights in Uşak, known for its quality carpets, are few, unimpressive, and in a fairly compact area. I walked from the bus station into town, which took about 20 minutes.
I started with the tiny Uşak Archaeology Museum. One of the world’s most important collections of ancient Lydian artifacts is on display at the museum. These artifacts were found near the city. At the time of my visit, a new museum was under construction to better showcase and preserve the collection, of which less than 10% was on display.
The crown jewel of the museum is the Karun Treasure. This collection comprises of several 2,600 year old artifacts stolen from a Lydian noblewoman’s tomb near Uşak in 1966 and smuggled out of the country. They were later bought by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, but returned to Turkey in 1993 after a long legal battle.
When I finished visiting the museum, I walked towards the main street in town, İsmet Paşa Caddesi. I was greeted by a humongous Atatürk monument that is probably the most interesting one I’ve seen in Turkey. The founder of the Turkish Republic is depicted in a few important moments of his career. The back of the monument features a tribute to local villagers and their contribution to the Turkish War of Independence. A small park, Tiritoğlu Parkı, is across the street from the monument.
I then walked north down İsmet Paşa Caddesi, grabbing a quick bite to eat before exploring the rest of the city.
At the north end of İsmet Paşa Caddesi is where the old town begins. There’s a small square with several historic market buildings, including the Sarraflar Çarşısı and the Bedesten, both built in 1901.
Across the street on the north end is the Paşa Hanı, built in 1898. It’s since been restored and serves as a hotel.
The mosque on the square is Ulu Cami, built in 1419. The inside is nothing to write home about.
Just to the east is another mosque, Burma Camii, built in 1577. This one is much smaller and also unimpressive.
To the north of the square is probably the most interesting of the mosques I encountered, the tiny Kırık Minare Mescidi. It was built in 1826. There’s no need to enter, but it has a broken minaret which gives the mosque it’s name. The minaret fell in a 1949 earthquake.
The Ottoman homes in Uşak are hit and miss. I would say the majority of them during my visit were crumbling yet still beautiful. Many were undergoing renovation, including the Tekeş Konağı. I’d like to go back one day to see the results of all the hard work. If you want to see what Uşak might look like after the projects are finished, the best of the restored houses are on Tirit Sokak.
There are a few other buildings of note scattered throughout town, including an 1890 home featuring the Atatürk ve Etnografya Müzesi (Atatürk and Ethnography Museum) on the north side.
Next to each other are the Karaağaç Evi and the Latife Hanım Evi. Latife Hanım was the wife of Atatürk and came from an Uşak family. Those buildings lie west of the square.
Back at the bus station, the clerk who sold me my ticket back to Kütahya was very helpful. He had a seat on a bus that was leaving in less than five minutes, locked up his station, and walked me to a different area of the bus station to make sure I got on the correct bus. It was a typical display of Turkish hospitality that I’ve witnessed almost everywhere in the country and a great send-off from this friendly city.