Turkish oil wrestling is a national sport in the Republic of Turkey.  The tournaments, which exceed 40 per year in the whole of Turkey, last from spring to autumn.  The top tournament is called "Kirkpinar historical oil wrestling rally", and is held every year in June at Edirne.
  The site of the rally, Edirne, is situated at west end of Turkey, approximately 230Km from Istanbul.  This ancient city has prospered for 100 years, and was the 3rd capital of Ottoman empire following Iznik, and Bursa.  Also, it's a border city, in that the center of downtown Edirne is approximately 5 kilometers from the Greek border.  Moreover it is 10 kilometers from the Bulgarian border.

  Buildings of the 16th century, such as the palace, and the mosque still exist, and you can see them if you walk in the town.  The whole town seems to be a museum.
  The Selimiye mosque, which towers over the center, is outstandingly beautiful.  It was designed by Mimar Sinan ( Mimar litterly means architect ).  Four minarets surround the huge dome, which is colored by beautiful tiles, and made with traditional Turkish techniques.  They shine in the sunlight, and grow into the boundless, deep blue sky.


  When you enter the mosque, and consider the arabesque decorations of the ceiling, you may feel as though time has stopped.  This mosque has 999 windows, and it's charms may tempt you to count them all.
  At the museum, juxtaposed to the mosque, photographs of the successive champions of Turkish oil wrestling can be seen.  If you are leaving the mosque, enjoy some shopping at the arcade nearby.  The speciality stores of folk crafts, jewelry, and more, are in rows of stands.

  The population of Edirne is approximately 120,000, and is like a picture-postcard, surrounded by the beautiful river, and the forest.  If you have some free time, it would be good to go a little way further to the border in Greece, and Bulgaria.  At restaurants near the border, you can enjoy lunch while watching the river flow slowly through, or listen to the wild bird songs in the sunlight filtering down through the trees of the forest.

  When you have been satisfied with historical Edirne, and the natural beauty, let's head north-northwest from the center of downtown.  Soon you will reach Saraych stadium, where the oil wrestling rally of Kirkpinar is hosted.  If you walk, it is only 2 kilometers through the suburbs, or 30 minutes.

  In oil wrestling, wiry men wear skin trousers, and pour a lot of oil over their entire body, then grapple.  Because of the oil, there is no place to grasp, so the struggle is a pure comparison of the proud wrestlers great physical strength.  The 1,800 wrestlers, who gather from all over Turkey, are put in 13 classes, and make for an exciting fight in front of a huge crowd of spectators for three days.

  The wrestling matches always end before sunset.  After returning to the town, have a deliscious Turkish dinner.  At restaurants in Turkey, the food is displayed in glass cases, and is also a feast for the eyes.  The bread, which is prepared at the table is free.

  When looking around nearby, you may be surprised by being surrounded by men with great physiques.  During the period of the rally, Edirne is full of wrestlers.  The master of Kirkpinar is Tasci, and Saban is the champion of 2005.  Almost all the wrestlers dine at ordinary restaurants in town.  If you see your favorite wrestlers, you should ask to take a souvenir picture, and stand in line with them.  They will readily agree to your request.
  After finishing supper, let's walk around town a little while in the cool wind.  It is nice to enjoy glass of chay at the open cafes too.  The mosque and the fountain are beautifully lit up with colored lights for the summer festival.
  In Edirne, once the ancient city of Adrianople, the nights pass slowly in quietness.

Another article about Edirne
Pictures of Edirne

January 2006 kirkpinar.jp