Home / Manisa


Manisa (Turkish pronunciation: [maˈnisa]) is a large city in Turkey's Aegean Region and the administrative seat of Manisa Province.

Modern Manisa is a booming center of industry and services, advantaged by its closeness to the international port city and the regional metropolitan center of İzmir and by its fertile hinterland rich in quantity and variety of agricultural production. In fact, İzmir's proximity also adds a particular dimension to all aspects of life's pace in Manisa in the form of a dense traffic of daily commuters between the two cities, separated as they are by a half-hour drive served by a fine six-lane highway nevertheless requiring attention at all times due to its curves and the rapid ascent (sea-level to more than 500 meters at Sabuncubeli Pass) across Mount Sipylus's mythic scenery.

The historic part of Manisa spreads out from a forested valley in the immediate slopes of Sipylus mountainside, along Çaybaşı Stream which flows next to Niobe's "Weeping Rock" ("Ağlayan Kaya"), an ancient bridge called the "Red Bridge" ("Kırmızı Köprü") as well as to several tombs-shrines in the Turkish style dating back to the Saruhan period (14th century). Under Ottoman rule in the centuries that followed, the city had already extended into the undulated terrain at the start of the plain. In the last couple of decades, Manisa's width more than tripled in size across its vast plain formed by the alluvial deposits of the River Gediz, a development in which the construction of new block apartments, industrial zones and of Celal Bayar University campus played a key role.

The city of Manisa is also widely visited, especially during March and September festivals, the former festival being the continuation of a five-hundred-year-old "Mesir Paste Distribution" tradition, and also for the nearby Mount Spil national park. It is also a departure point for other visitor attractions of international acclaim which are located nearby within Manisa's depending region, such as Sardes and Alaşehir (ancient Philadelphia) inland. There is a Jewish community.

Historically, the city was also called Magnesia, and more precisely as Magnesia ad Sipylum to distinguish from Magnesia on the Maeander at a relatively short distance to the south. Traditional view held that the name "Magnesia" derived from the tribe of Magneteswho would have immigrated here from Thessaly at the dawn of the region's recorded history. A connection with native Anatolian languages has also been suggested of recent date, particularly on the basis of discoveries made in the Hittite archives treating theLuwian western Anatolia. The name is rendered as Μαγνησία in ancient and modern Greek language.

The name "Magnesia ad Sipylus" refers to Mount Sipylus (Mount Spil) that towers over the city and Magnesia became a city of importance starting with the Roman dominion, particularly after the 190 BC Battle of Magnesia. The names "Sipylus" or "Sipylum" in reference to a settlement here are also encountered in some sources, again in reference to the mountain and as abbreviated forms. Pliny the Elder, supported by other sources, mentions that formerly in the same place was a very celebrated city which was called "Tantalis" [4] or "the city of Tantalus" whose ruins were still visible around his time.[5]

Under Turkish rule, the name attached to the Beys of "Saruhan", who founded the Beylik which preceded the Ottomans in the region, has been officially used, along with the name Manisa, for the city and the region alternatively and this until the present period of theRepublic of Turkey. The Ottoman Turkish form of the name "Manisa" (ماغنيسا) was usually as it is still used presently, but a spelling with a longer first syllable, transcribed to modern Turkish as "Mağnisa", was also occasionally encountered. During the first centuries of the Ottoman Empire, many of the sons of sultans received their education in Manisa and the city is still commonly known in Turkey as "the city of shahzades" (Şehzadeler şehri), a distinctive title it shares only with Amasya and Trabzon.

The English language root word "magnesia", from which the words "magnet" and "magnetism" and numerous other derivations were coined, as well as their equivalents in many other languages, may derive from the city's name.

Traces of prehistory in the Manisa region, although few in number, nevertheless include two very interesting finds that shed much light on western Anatolia's past. The first are the fossilized footprints, numbering more than fifty and dated to around 20.000-25.000 BC, discovered in 1969 by MTA, Turkey's state body for mineral exploration, in Sindel village near Manisa's depending district of Salihli and referred to under that village's name. Some of these footprints are on display today in Manisa Museum while their site of origin of Sindel, where there are also prehistoric paintings, will reportedly become Turkey's first geopark through a joint project with the European Commission.

The second finds are tombs contemporaneous with Troy II (3000-2500 BC) and found in the village of Yortan near Kırkağaç district center, north of Manisa. Original burial practices observed in these sepulchres led scholars to the definition of a "Yortan culture" in Anatolia's prehistory, many of whose aspects remain yet to be explored.

Central and southern parts of western Anatolia entered history with the still obscure Luwian kingdom of Arzawa, probably offshoots, as well as neighbors and, after around 1320 BCE, vassals of the Hittite EmpireCybele monument located at Akpınar on the northern flank of Mount Sipylus, at a distance of 7 km (4 mi) from Manisa on the road to Turgutlu is, along with the King of Mira rock relief at Mount Nif near Kemalpaşa and a number of cuneiform tablet records are among the principal evidence of extension of Hittite control and influence in western Anatolia based on local principalities. Cybele monument by itself represents a step of innovation in Hittite art where full-faced figures in high relief are rare.


The first millennium BC saw the emergence in the region of "Phrygians" and "Maeonians", the accounts concerning which are still blended with myths,[7] and finally of Lydians. Such semi-legendary figures like the local ruler Tantalus, his son Pelops, his daughter Niobe, the departure of a sizable part of the region's population from their shores to found, according to one account, the future Etruscan civilization in present-day Italy, are all centered around Mount Sipylus, where the first urban settlement was probably located, and date from the period prior to the emergence of the Lydian Mermnad dynasty. It has also been suggested that the mountain could be the geographical setting for Baucis and Philemon tale as well, while most sources still usually associate it with Tyana (Hittite Tuwanuwa) in modern-day Kemerhisar near Niğde.[8]

In the early 7th century BC, the Lydians under the newly established Mermnad dynasty, with the present-day Manisa region as their heartland expanded their control over a large part of Anatolia, ruling from their capital "Sfard" (Sard,SardesSardis) situated more inland at a distance of 62 km (39 mi) from Manisa. The vestiges from their capital which reached our day bring together remains from several successive civilizations.

In Classical antiquity, the city was known as Magnesia ad Sipylum and played an important role in the history of the epoch by being the place where, in 190 BC, Antiochus the Great was defeated in the Battle of Magnesia by the Roman Empire. It became a city of importance under the Roman dominion and, though nearly destroyed by an earthquake in the reign of Tiberius, was restored by that emperor and flourished through the Roman empire.

Lost by the Byzantine Empire in 1076 to the Seljuk's in the aftermath of the Battle of Manzikert, the subsequent Crusader victory at the Battle of Dorylaeum (1097) allowed Manisa to be recovered by the Emperor Alexios I. It was an important regional centre through the Byzantine Empire, and during the 13th century interregnum of the Empire of Nicea. Magnesia housed the Imperial mint, the Imperial treasury, and served as the functional capital of the empire until the recovery of Constantinople in 1261.[9] Ruins of the Nicean-era fortifications attest to the city's importance in the Late Byzantine period, a fact also noted by the Byzantine historian George Akropolites, writing in the 13th century.

In 1313, Manisa became a permanent Turkish possession when taken by the Beylik of Saruhan, led by the Bey of the same name who had started out as a tributary of the Seljuks and who reigned until 1346. His sons held the region until 1390, when the first incorporation of their lands into the expanding Ottoman state took place. After a brief interval caused by the Ottoman interregnum after the Battle of Ankara, Manisa and its surroundings definitely became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1410.

The city remained prosperous and developed steadily, especially as of the mid-15th century. As the central town of the Ottoman Empire's Saruhan sanjak, the city's development was enhanced particularly by its choice as the training ground for shahzades (crown princes), and it stood out as one of the wealthiest parts of the Empire with many examples of Ottoman architecture built. In a practice started byMurad II in 1437, fifteen members of the Ottoman dynasty, including two among the most notable, namely Mehmed II and Süleyman I, held the administration of the city and of its dependencies in seventeen near-continuous periods until 1595. Although the sanjak of Saruhan officially depended the eyalet of Anadolu with its seat in Kütahya, a large degree of autonomy was left to the princes for them to acquire the experience of government. This practice was discontinued in 1595, largely due to the growing insecurity in the countryside, precursor of Jelali Revolts, and a violent earthquake dealt a severe blow to the Manisa region's prosperity the same year.

Around 1700, Manisa counted about 2,000 taxpayers and 300 pious foundations (vakıf) shops, was renowned for its cotton markets and a type of leather named after the city. Large parts of the population had begun settling and becoming sedentary and the city was a point of terminus for caravans from the east, with İzmir's growth still in its early stages.[10] But already during the preceding century, influent western merchants such as Orlando, often in pact with local warlords such as Cennetoğlu, a brigand (sometimes cited as one of the first in line in western Anatolia's long tradition of efes to come) who in the 1620s had assembled a vast company of disbanded Ottoman soldiers and renegades and established control over much of the fertile land around Manisa, had triggered a movement of more commercially sensitive Greek and Jewish populations towards the port city.

Between 1595–1836, the sanjak of Saruhan (Manisa) remained attached to the Eyalet of Anadolu, as in the time of the Ottoman crown princes. Between 1836–1867 the city and its depending region was made part of the short-lived Eyalet of Aydın, which became a vilayet with the administrative reforms of 1867. During this phase, Saruhan (Manisa) even had an eyalet of its own under its name as the "Eyalet of Saruhan" between the even shorter period 1845–1847. The seat of the province to which Saruhan sanjak depended was the city of Aydın (1827–1841 and 1843–1846) at first, and was later moved to İzmir (1841–1843, 1846–1864).

Manisa was one of the first cities in the Ottoman Empire to benefit from the arrival of a railway line, with the 93 km (58 mi) Smyrna Cassaba Railway, whose construction was started from İzmir in 1863 and which reached its first terminus at Manisa's depending Kasaba in 1866. This railway was the third started within the territory of the Ottoman Empire at the time and the first finished within the present-day territory of Turkey.[12] Instead of being laid along the direct route eastwards from İzmir to Kasaba, about fifty kilometers in length, the line built drew a wide arc advancing first to the north-west from İzmir, through its Karşıyaka suburb to whose foundation it contributed greatly, and curves eastwards only from Menemen on, crossing the former sanjak and the present-day province center of Manisa to join Kasaba (now Turgutlu) from the north. The first concession under the name was granted to a locally based English entrepreneur named Edward Price, who founded the company and built the line. This railway was extended further east by the same company between 1872–1875 to reach Alaşehir at a distance of 76 km (47 mi) from Kasaba and a connection northwards starting from Manisa itself was built between 1888–1890 to reach the lignite-rich Soma, another dependency of Manisa, through a 92 km (57 mi) line. Price sold the whole network in 1893 to theFranco–Belgian group Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, which extended it further east to Afyonkarahisar in 1896 and further north to Bandırma in 1912.[13] The line was nationalized in 1934 by the young Republic of Turkey in the frame of a general move started in the 1920s regarding Turkey's railways.

Manisa was temporarily occupied by the Greek Army on May 26, 1919 during the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), before finally being recaptured by the Turkish army on September 8, 1922. The retreating Greek army burned the city. Over ninety percent of Manisa was destroyed by the retreating Greek army as part of the scorched-earth policy.[14] James Loder Park, the U.S. Vice-Consul in Constantinople at the time, who toured much of the devastated area immediately after the Greek evacuation, described the situation in the surrounding cities and towns of İzmir he has seen, as follows:[15] "Manisa...almost completely wiped out by fire...10,300 houses, 15 mosques, 2 baths, 2,278 shops, 19 hotels, 26 villas...[destroyed]." Patrick Balfour, 3rd Baron Kinross wrote: "Out of the eighteen thousand buildings in the historic holy city of Manisa, only five hundred remained."[16]

Manisa was rebuilt and became the centre of Saruhan Province in 1923 under the new Turkish Republic. The province's name was changed to Manisa, as was the city itself, in 1927.

Manisa and some of its depending district centers have succeeded in solidly clinching an industrial production base in recent decades, in this supported both initially and continuously by the century-old wide-scale agricultural processing and related activities (production of flour and olive oil, basic textiles, leather goods, agricultural tools and instruments, cotton ginning).

According to the figures published by the Governorship, 694 companies in Manisa Province out of the province's total number of companies of 5.502 for 2007 are certified industrial enterprises and these employ a total of 44.449 people. Within the 694, Manisa center is in the lead with 238 enterprises engaged in industrial production, with the depending centers of Turgutlu (125 industrial enterprises), Akhisar (100), Salihli (78) closely contending, and Saruhanlı (33), Alaşehir (30), Kula (28), Demirci (20) and Soma (17) following.[19]

Among leading industrial activities Manisa companies are engaged in are production of foodstuffs (196 companies), building materials (114), metal goods (85), as well as textile industry and clothing industry (46) and cotton ginning (43). The highest numbers of workforce are concentrated in electronics/electrical appliances, foodstuffs and construction industries.

The choice of Manisa as production base in the 1980s by the Turkish consumer electronics and white goods giant Vestel was an important boost for the present-day level of sophistication. Today Manisa's economic activities are far from being confined to a sole company. Manisa registered roughly 200m US dollars in FDI in 2004 and well-known businesses such as Italian white goods company Indesit, German electrical goods company Bosch, UK packaging company Rexam and Imperial Tobacco of the UK have invested in Manisa.

In 2004/2005 Manisa was chosen among 200 contestants as the Most Cost-Effective European city by the FDi magazine's yearly round of votes to determine European Cities and Regions of the Future, its extremely low office and industrial rents and competitive labor costs having been particularly noted.[20] Again for 2006/2007, Manisa was named among 89 European cities as the winner of the category of the Best Economic Potential in Europe, as runner-up for the categories Southern-Europe's City of the Future (winner for Turkey) and the Most Cost-Effective European city.[21]

The city also has a football team, Manisaspor, which plays in the Turkish Premier Super League under the home colors of red and white and away colors of black and white. Manisaspor's home ground is the Manisa 19 Mayis Stadi.