Edirne, in the north-west of East Thrace, the European part of Turkey, is a city of almost 170,000 people. It was founded in the 2nd Century by the Roman emperor Hadrian on the site of Uskudama, a former Thracian settlement and named Hadrianopolis, after the emperor. He adorned it with monuments and made it the capital of the Roman province of Thrace. Emperor Constantine I, who had founded nearby Constantinople as its capital, defeated his rival Emperor Licinius here in 323. Eastern Roman Emperor Valens was killed here in what has become known as the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths, in 378. This defeat started a process leading to the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th Century.
The Latin Empire of Constantinople, a feudal Crusader state, had been established after crusaders had seized lands from the Byzantine Empire in 1204. A year later the crusaders were defeated by the forces of the Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan in another Battle of Adrianople. The Latin Emperor Baldwin I was captured by the Bulgarians and died in captivity. The Latin Empire lasted until 1261 and Adrianople with its surrounds passed to a variety of administrators. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire had been established in Anatolia and started its expansion. In 1361 Sultan Murad I invaded Thrace and captured Adrianople around 1369. Given the Turkish name “Edirne”, it became the Ottoman capital. Sultan Mehmed II, who became known as “Mehmed the Conquerer” was born here and in 1453 he moved the capital to Constantinople, the city he had conquered that year.
Edirne remained important, the principal city of the Eyalet of Edirne, an administrative unit; in 1867, after land reforms, it became the capital of the Vilayet of Edirne. During the Ottoman years, many beautiful mosques were constructed; the most important was the Selimiye Mosque, commissioned by Sultan Selim II, and built by architect Mimar Sinan between 1569 and 1575. Sinan himself considered the Selimiye Mosque his masterpiece. Another important building is the Sultan Bayezid II Health Museum, a hospital museum of Trakya University. It is within the Complex of Bayezid II Külliye, an Ottoman architectural concept that designates a complex of buildings centred on a mosque. It was built in 1488 by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II, who reigned from 1481–1512. Today Edirne is a wonderful city to visit, on the highway between Sofia and İstanbul.