A city in Thrace, in the European part of Turkey, on its border
with Bulgaria and Greece. Estimated 2001 population, 125,600.
The city has always been a strategic point on the road
to Constantinople/Istanbul from the rest of Europe. This is the
real reason for the city's existence, and the source of all its woes: The
city remained on the front lines of the Byzantine Empire throughout its
existence, and changed hands dozens of times.
A tribe of Thracians, the Odrisi, founded the first settlement here,
called Uscudama. The Greeks later applied the name Odrysia to
The Roman Emperor Hadrian turned Uscudama into a city around 125
AD, renaming it "Hadrianopolis" after himself. This name became
"Adrianople" in the west.
In 378 AD, the Visigoths dealt a terrible defeat to the emperor
Valens here. Barbarians were then free to invade Greece.
The Avars sacked the city in 586. When the Byzantine Empire proved
unable to stop the jihad that rolled over it in 718, the Bulgars
crushed the invading Arabs at Adrianople. The Bulgarian Empire took the
city from the Byzantines again in 970. The humiliating Fourth
Crusade saw Western adventurers sack the city in 1204.
The Ottoman Turks conquered Adrianople in 1362 and made it the capital
of their empire until Constantinople, now Istanbul,
finally fell in 1453. As The Ottoman Empire entered its death throes
during the 1913 Balkan war, the city became a prize sought by the Greeks
and Bulgarians. When the Turkish War of Independence finally
petered out in 1922, Edirne lay inside Turkey, and there it remains to