A collage of Balıkesir City Center, center of the Balıkesir Province. Top left:Balıkesir Clock Tower, Top right:View of Clock Tower from Zagros Pasa Square, Middle left:Kuvayi Milliye Museum, Center:Balikesir Ataturk Park, Middle right:AHP Square, Bottom upper left:Ottoman style architecture houses in Mimarsi area, Bottom lower left:Ozmerkez headquarter in Kuymcular area, Bottom right:Balikesir Railroad Station
|• Mayor||Ahmet Edip Uğur (AKP)|
|• Governor||Ahmet Turhan|
|• District||1,453.97 km2 (561.38 sq mi)|
|Elevation||70 m (230 ft)|
|• District density||230/km2 (600/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (FET)|
|Area code(s)||(+90) 266|
Balıkesir (Turkish pronunciation: [baˈlɯkesiɾ]) is a city and the capital city of Balıkesir Province. Balıkesir is in the Marmara region of Turkey and has a population of 331,788 inhabitants. Between 1341–1922, it was the capital of Karasi.
Close to modern Balıkesir was the Roman town of Hadrianutherae, founded, as its name commemorates, by the emperor Hadrian. Hadrian came to the region in A.D. 124, as a result of a successful bear hunting he had established a city called his own name here. It is estimated that the city consisted of the castle, the homestead, the stud and a few homes. It is thought that the small town was the stadium where to be present. Members of the Roman and Pre-Byzantine dynasty had used this castle as a vacation area and for hunting.
During Byzantine period, the small town which had become increasingly neglected was known as Palaeokastron (Greek: Παλαιόκαστρο) meaning Old Castle. Also, when the Turkmens came from Middle Asia to Mysia, they called it Balak Hisar because of the remains of castle, as Hisar is the Turkish word for castle.
In 1345, Balıkesir city was annexed by the Ottomans. In 1897 an earthquake destroyed much of the city. In 1914, Turkish students marched through the streets of the city singing a song of hatred against the Greeks. In April 1916, the Christian refugees of the villages in the vicinity of Balikesser underwent persecution from the Turks. They were refused bread on payment. The women were told that they should become Muslim so as not to die of hunger. In the beginning of June, many young Greek girls were forced by the authorities to convert to Islam at Government headquarters. On 30 June 1920 Balıkesir city was conquered by the invading Greeks but on 6 September 1922, the Turkish army took back the city. During the Turkish War of Independence, Balıkesir was a main centre of the militias in Western Anatolia against Greeks. Balıkesir's former name was Karasi, because Balıkesir city was founded by Karasi Beg in the 13th century as using the remains of the small town. 1297 is considered as the date of establishment of the city which was one of the few to be founded by the Turks in Anatolia. The Karasids was a Turkic principality in Mysia. Until the 13th century, Balıkesir city had been the administral centre of the Mysia region.
Balıkesir has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa) under both the Köppen and Trewartha classification. Winters are cool and wet with frequent frosts and occasional snowfall, and summers are hot and dry.
|Climate data for Balıkesir (1950–2014)|
|Record high °C (°F)||23.5
|Average high °C (°F)||9.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||4.8
|Average low °C (°F)||1.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−13.8
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||80.1
|Average precipitation days||14.2||11.7||11.5||9.5||7.8||4.4||1.6||1.5||3.5||6.7||9.7||13.9||96|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||2.6||3.3||4.4||6.1||8.4||10.5||11.4||11.0||8.5||6.2||4.1||2.3||6.6|
|Source: Turkish State Meteorological Service|
The economic base of the city is both agricultural and industrial. The biggest industrial enterprises are Arı-Turyağ, Limak-Set Çimento, BEST, Mar-Tük, İşbir, Kula, Tellioğlu, Bu Pilic and Yarış Kabin which are among the first thousand factories in Turkey as of 2008. Balıkesir city is also important for the stock breeding. Surrounding the city, are numerous dairies. The city is also an agricultural centre. Wheat, sunflowers, sugar beets, and other vegetables in front tomato and bean plantations have dence products. Traditional crops are melon and grapes. Balıkesir with its districts is the 12th largest economy in Turkish economy. Also, it is called Anatolian Tiger.
Other main exports are olive-based products. It is also a popular destination for both domestic and foreign tourists, who use it as a base to explore the nearly countryside which is renowned for its beauty, especially nearby Mount Ida (Kaz Dağı).
City is well known with borax deposit.
The rectorship of Balıkesir University and the university campus help to make Balikesir a student city. The 25.000 university students comprise 10% of the total city population, adding much to city life.
The central of Balıkesir province with 300,000 population is the fourth crowded city in the Marmara Region. Balıkesir has an aggregate settlement network. Until the 1950s, the city has grown by depending on the core being first settlements that it resembles break-up of the oil stains. The city has been carrying more Aegean character than Marmara. Anafartalar Street, Milli Kuvvetler Street, Vasıf Çınar Street, Kızılay Street, Atalar Street are important streets in the city. Aygören, Karaoğlan, Dumlupınar, Kasaplar, Hisariçi, Karesi, Kızpınar, Hacıilbey are the first settlements of the city. The eldest settlements are acclivity, lane and also have adjoint buildings. Many historical places are in these quarters. A summary of new settlements are Bahcelievler, Atatürk, Paşaalanı and Adnan Menderes quarters. The squares of the city: Ali Hikmet Pasha (AHP), Republica, Wrestler Kurtdereli Mehmed and Karesi.
Trade and economic life is concentrated on three streets. These are Milli Kuvvetler Street, Kızılay Street and Anafartalar Street. Commercial life focuses on these streets and the small streets which are intersecting these streets and avenues. As a part of the city skyline, New Bazaar Area is the oldest shopping place for the city. Vasıf Çınar Street and Gazi Boulevard are other busy areas. The face of the government, there is Balıkesir Park, the rest area, is one of Turkey's most beautiful parks. By the establishment of Balıkesir University in the city, social life is gradually developing. In 2007, with the modern shopping center, commercial life in Balıkesir has started to gain momentum.
Salih Tozan Cultural Center is important for cultural activities in the city. Public transport area where is the point of transport networks is near the Salih Tozan. Yaylada and Gala are important places for citylife.
Turkey's first jet base, 9th Main Air base is located in Balıkesir.
The capital of Balıkesir province contains many historical buildings. The clocktower (built in 1892) is the symbol of the city. A historical fountain (built in 1908) is another popular building. The Zaganos Pasha Mosque Complex and Yildirim Mosque are popular spiritual areas. Many old Balıkesir houses in the Aygoren and Karaoglan district remain from the Ottoman period.
Balıkesir National Photography Museum is the only photography museum in Turkey. The Museum of National Moment, exhibits historical memories of the city. Of course, Balıkesir is especially known for its historic windmills.
Many spas with health promoting features surround the city, including Pamukcu and Ilica. The center of the city also contains the historical Turkish "Pasha Hamami" bath, which is still in use.
- Zaganos Pasha Mosque: Zaganos Pasha, named after one of the viziers and commanders during the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmet was built in 1461.
- Yildirim Mosque: It's the oldest remaining work from the Ottoman period in Balikesir city. Yildirim Beyazid had it built in 1388 in the second half of the 14th century.
- Umurbey Mosque: It has an epitaph of three lines engraved on marble using a special script called Sülüs. The date is 1412.
- Clock Tower: Giridizade Mehmet, Pasha of the Governor of Silistre, had it built as a replica of the Galata Tower in İstanbul in 1827, but it collapsed in the earthquake in 1897. Governor Ömer Ali Bey, had the present tower rebuilt.
- Karesi Principality Tomb: It was built in 1336. It contains Karasi Beg's and his five children's graves. Karasi Beg's sarcophagus is decorated with Sufic script.
- Balıkesir's Historical Windmills: In Karakol village which is 25 km (15.53 mi) from Balikesir, there are seven historical windmills. But only three windmills remain. Hunting and tracking are the best sports, accompanied by windmills' views.
- Değirmenboğazı: (means Strait of mill) City forest. It is a forest area situated between two hills. A pleasant picnic place – it contains a tea garden and restaurant.
- Balikesir City Park: It is a beautiful park which has been in service since the 1960s. The ground is covered with grass. Lots of units and places are situated in park. There is poolside cafe and rest facility. Celtis (Hackberry) and pine trees are all over the park.
- Balikesir Local-Civil Houses:The city's oldest districts have traditional houses which show the economy and lifestyle of the city until the 1500s.
- Thermal Resorts: Balıkesir is very famous for its thermal springs. The major thermal spas are Pamukcu, Ilica, Kepekler and Hisaralani.
The major holidays of Balıkesir are Hıdrellez. And the Liberation Day and also the Remembrance Day of Local Combat are memorial days of Balıkesir city.
Hıdrellez is by tradition celebrated in the first week of May for those who live in Balıkesir. Today, it is the fulfillment of a religious ritual that is celebrated as a day of goodness. The night on the streets there is a fire, and one of the traditions is to jump over the fire seven times. That night going to such green and restful areas as Değirmenboğazı and Balıkesir Parkı or near the religious area like tombs is also a ritual of Hıdrellez. People wish the midnight and meet there. Accordingly, Hıdrellez day people have offerings. Drawing a picture of something that is desired to land or stone is determined. Individuals seeking goods put money into a red purse and hang it on a tree. On the other hand, those wishing for a baby type the name or draws baby figure on the ground. These rituals are traditions of Hıdrellez. One of the superstitions is that if someone takes a shower that night, he or she is protected from all diseases. Hıdrellez is a kind of Newroz or Spring New Years.
The Liberation Day from enemy occupation of Balıkesir is 6 September in 1922. Every year, 6 September is celebrating day as a local holiday. There is a celebration parade and a celebratory ceremony. The ceremony takes place on Stadium Street. In the past, the previous night of 6 September, the main streets of Balıkesir were washed with cologne with lilies, because lilies are a symbol of Balıkesir. This festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm. For two or three days, the people would come from the nearby villages and districts to celebrating. On 6 September morning, people in Balıkesir would picnic in advance of the festival, at Balıkesir Park. The festival evening, a great torchlight procession is organized. Tülü Tabaklar which had designed similarly the cannibals in order to frighten the enemies is special event of festival.
The Remembrance Day of Local Combat is called Kuvayi Milliye Haftası in Turkish which is organized between 16–23 May. The great success with 41 Balıkesirer people met at Alaca Mescit and they have managed the region such as a state and gained a military victory in 1922. 15 May 1919, after the capture of İzmir by the Greeks, Balıkesir is the first place in Turkey that the reaction of Balıkesir had shown by declared Redd-i Ilhak (Disclamation of Annexation). In 1919, the city of Balikesir Congress was met five times. Greek soldiers on 30 June 1920 was occupied Balıkesir. By had opened Ayvalik-İvrindi-Soma-Balikesir-front, Balıkesir had its liberation.
Local cultural heritages
Balıkesir's local cheese, called Kelle Peyniri, is known in European countries and exported France, Germany and Britain. It is a granular type cheese. Balıkesir's Turkmen carpets (called Yagcibedir) are another popular local good. The main souvenir of city is Eau de Cologne is aromatic lily . Hosmerim which is made from cheese and egg is the popular dessert of this city. Lots of old Turkmens dishes (like keskek, guvec, tirit, manti, kaymakli) are composed Balıkesir cuisine.
Balıkesir is a historical folkloric dance source. Balıkesir's historical folkloric dance is most popular in Turkey and academical searching. Bengi, Guvende and Balikesir Zeybeği are typical dance of this city. These dances' figures spread throughout Balıkesir plainness. Also, Balikesir's ballads are popular in Turkey. Akpınar, Mendili Oyaladım, Karyolamın Demiri are some ballads sing by women surround Balikesir city. Like these woman ballads on the other hand, have dance figures in terms of traditional dancing. Although Balıkesir is in industrial region, traditional village culture is superb and deeply. So that, for folk culture Balıkesir is important area in Turkey. Balıkesir's local dance came to first in Nice folk festival joined 21 countries at 1958 be of value by European academical folklore authorities. Also Balıkesir's local zeibek dance was the first zeibek participation from Turkey which had seen European folk authorities. Nowadays, Balıkesir folklore is chosen "unconcrete cultural heritage" of Turkey by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Balıkesir zeibeks costums
Transportation and Accommodation
Balıkesir is a city that has shores on the Aegean and Marmara Seas. It is easy to reach from Ankara, İstanbul, Bursa and İzmir by motorway or railway. There are regular coaches from İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir. Balıkesir have got lots of small coastal towns. To make transportation comfortable, railway transport is done between Ankara-Balıkesir and İzmir-Balikesir at specific hours.
Balıkesir is joined to Bursa and İzmir by a quality motorway. Also there is Körfez Airport. On account of the Körfez Airport, Balıkesir Coach Terminal is out of the city so that there is servicing by municipality to the city centre. On the other hand, the Railway Station is at Republica Square. Directly, from Ankara to Balıkesir, there access to airlines three days a week.
In Balıkesir city, there are ten hotels with one five-star hotel. Some hotels are close to the city centre so that everywhere is attainable easily.
Twin towns – Sister cities
Balıkesir is twinned with:
- Bergama, Turkey (since 1310)
- Kazan, Russia (since 1996)
- Roxas, Philippines (since 1997)
- Štip, North Macedonia (since 1999)
- Schwäbisch Hall, Germany (since 2006)
- Siirt, Turkey (since 2007)
- Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea (since 2010)
- Hande Erçel - Best Actress and Model from city Bandırma.
- Egemen Korkmaz – Fenerbahçe SK soccer player
- Fatih Piren – Turkish Navy Lieutenant Commander
- Fikret Hakan – Actor
- Imam Birgivi – Muslim scholar
- Itır Esen – Actress and writer
- İlhan Eker – Kasımpaşa S.K. soccer player
- Kurtdereli Mehmet Pehlivan – World-famous oilwrestler
- Mehmet Çoban – Olympian Greco-Roman wrestler
- Nazmi Solok – Military officer in the Ottoman and Turkish armies
- Olcan Adın – Trabzonspor soccer player
- Omer Seyfettin – Writer
- Oğuz Savaş – Fenerbahçe Ülker basketball player
- Ramazan Bayrakoğlu – Contemporary artist 
- Tamer Yiğit – Actor
- Tülin Altıntaş – Fenerbahçe Acıbadem volleyball player
- Uğur Tütüneker – former Galatasaray SK and Bayern Munich soccer player
- Zağanos Pasha – Ottoman military commander
- Şafak Edge – Banvit B.K. basketball player
- Selman Akbulut - Mathematician
- "Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
- "Population of province/district centers and towns/villages by districts - 2012". Address Based Population Registration System (ABPRS) Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "Statistics from Mayority". Balikesir.bel.tr. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Balikisri". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 256.
- Prof. Dr. Bilge Umar, Mysia, İnkılap Yayınevi, 2006, sf.153
- Persecution of the Greeks in Turkey, 1914–1918. Constantinople [London, Printed by the Hesperia Press]. 1919.
- "Meteoroloji" (in Turkish). Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- http://www.iso.org.tr/tr/web/BesYuzBuyuk/Türkiye-nin-500-Buyuk-Sanayi-Kurulusu--ISO-500-raporunun-sonuclari.html[permanent dead link] Balıkesir (in Turkish)
- "Schwäbisch Hall and its twin towns". Stadt Schwäbisch Hall. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- Sister/Twin Cities of Balıkesir
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Balikesir.|
- Balıkesir Municipality Web Page
- Balıkesir's Information and City Guide Site (in Turkish)
- Balıkesir Government Web Page
- Balıkesir University Web Page
- Balıkesir Spor FC Web Page
- Lots of pictures of the city of Balıkesir
- Balikesir Folklore and Cuisine Photos
- Balıkesir's historical photos
- Balikesir Photos (in Turkish)
- Balıkesir Video (in English)