The Armistice town                      Population: 52,500

200 DSC06313Old name: Montania

Market day: Monday

Fancy a quick trip out of İstanbul? Why not head for Mudanya, a small resort town on the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara, just 15 minutes’ drive north of Bursa.

Nothing could be simpler. Just log on to the İDO İstanbul seabuses website, check the timetable, book a ticket, head for Yenikapı, and away you go. A couple of hours later and you’ll be alighting in Güzelyalı whence all you need do is walk out to the main road, turn right and hop into the next passing bus (it's trickier in winter when the İDO timetable is reduced).

Around town

Mudanya is the sort of place that you could be forgiven for passing through without stopping since its main street has little to show for itself, bar a long line of oh-so-familiar grocery shops and one truly delightful olde-worlde teahouse. But in the late 19th century this was a town that received a distinct boost from the arrival of the railway which brought it within easy reach of Bursa. The result was that the streets running back from the sea quickly filled up with a network of fine houses including a few İstanbul-style yalıs (wooden seaside mansions).200 DSC06312

Until recently these yalıs had been virtually abandoned, along with the smaller Ottoman houses of wood and stone that congregated around them. Now the lovely Şükrü Bey Yalısı, dating back to 1895, has been completely restored and turned into a hotel. The frilly woodwork of the roofline will be familiar to İstanbullus from many Arnavutköy models. However, the steps up to the main door and the lovely ceiling above the porch evoke the back streets of Ayvalık or even Yeni Foça, and hint at the fact that there was a large Greek population here before the 1923 population exchange.

Sure enough, not far away the Uğur Mumcu Cultural Centre is housed inside what must have been an enormous church in the late 19th century.

An even more impressive mansion right on the seafront is the whitewashed Mütareke Evi (Armistice House), originally built for a Russian named Alexander Ganyanhof. In October 1922 this was where İsmet Inönü, later the country’s second president, signed a treaty with representatives of Britain, France and Italy that effectively brought Turkey into existence as a new country. Later the building was bought and restored by a local businessman, before being acquired by the state in 1937.

Inside you can see the room where the treaty was signed with mannequins of the main players in the story sitting stiffly at a table in their army uniforms. You can also inspect a room that served as a study for İsmet İnönü, then simply İsmet Paşa in the days before Atatürk persuaded everyone to adopt a surname.

For most visitors the real interest will lie in the chance to admire the sort of decoration and furnishings that would have filled all the nearby houses in their heyday. 

200 DSC06305Across the road from the Mütareke Evi a monument to the armistice stands in a small park while in the road outside an outsize statue of a dove with an olive branch in its mouth hammers home the message of peace.

Although there were Greek and Roman settlements in the vicinity, there’s very little to show for pre-19th-century Mudanya today: just the restored brickwork of the high street mosque which dates back to c. 1500, and the remains of what must have been an impressive double-domed hamam (Turkish bath) and small han in the back streets. The hamam in particular looks like a prime candidate for restoration which may well come in the foreseeable future given the speed of development.

A small building near the harbour that was built in the First National Architecture style popularized in İstanbul by Vedat Tek and Kemaleddin Bey now serves as Mudanya’s Sosyal Tesisleri (Social Facilities), a great place to grab a glass of tea.

A new Tahirpaşa Kent Müzesi (City Museum) has opened in Mudanya although I have not had a chance to visit it yet.

Mudanya is carving out a niche for itself in the imaginative reuse of unlikely structures to create hotels.
First off the block was the Hotel Montania, created out of a French-built Customs House that had gone on to serve as the local train station. The railway service that had brought new life to Mudanya died a death in the 1950s, and for years the station stood empty. Then it was turned into a wonderful waterside hotel where diners could sit on what was once a platform and gaze out to sea over their suppers. Today a wooden deck and swimming pool have been added to the mix, making this an excellent place to stay.

Then someone decided that what could be done with a station could also be done with a decommissioned ferry, and now six km down the road in Güzelyalı, really just an eastern suburb of Mudanya, there's a fantastic hotel housed onboard a converted İstanbul ferryboat too. 

Golden Hotel. Tel: 0224-544 6464

Hotel La Fontaine. Tel: 0224-543 1041

Hotel Montania

Otantik Gemi Otel

Transport info

İDO (www.ido.com.tr) seabuses run from Yenikapı in İstanbul to Güzelyalı, a short bus ride from Mudanya.

Day trip destinations





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