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Balıkesir (Turkish pronunciation: [baˈlɯkesiɾ]) is the capital city of Balıkesir Province. Balıkesir is in the Marmara region of Turkey and has a population of 265,747 inhabitants. Its old name is Karesi, or Karasi.
Balıkesir district borders and red area shows Balıkesir Provincial Centre
Close to modern Balıkesir was the Roman town of Hadrianutherae, founded, as its name commemorates, by the emperor Hadrian. During the Byzantine period, the small town was known as Palaeokastron (Greek: Old Castle). The remains of the ancient Makestos Bridge and castles are found in the surrounding region. Members of the Byzantine dynasty had used this castle as a vacation area and for hunting. 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.
Balıkesir's former name was Karasi, because Balıkesir city was founded by Karasi Beg in the 13th century. The Karasids was a Turkic principality in Mysia. Until the 13th century, Balıkesir city had been the administral centre of the Mysia region. In 1345, Balıkesir city was annexed by the Ottomans. In 1897 an earthquake destroyed much of the city. In 1920 Balıkesir city was conquered by the invading Greeks but on 6 September in 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. In the 1950s, a major fire, started by several naughty mice, again destroyed a part of the city which was later rebuilt.
Balıkesir has a Mediterranean Climate with long, hot and dry summers with cool and rainy winters. In the height of summer temperatures can exceed +40°C (104°F). Winters are cool but sometimes turn cold and snowfalls can occur.
The economic base of the city is both agricultural and industrial. The biggest industrial enterprises are Ari-Turyag, Set Cimento, BEST, Mar-Tük, İsbir, Kula, Tellioglu, Bupilic and Yaris 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 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). İt 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.
Image from Milli Kuvvetler Street
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 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 eldest 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 are gradually developing. In 2007, with the modern shopping center, commercial life in Balıkesir has started to gain momentum.
Salih Tozan Cultural Center is the 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 the important place for the 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.
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 Balikesir. 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.
Lily is a symbol of Balikesir
The Liberation Day from enemy occupation of Balikesir 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 Balikesir. 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 16th-23 May. The great success with 41 Balıkesirer people met at Alaca Mescit and they have managed the region such as a state and they successed military victory in 1922. 15 May 1919, after the capture of Izmir 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 June 30, 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