Living, Breathing History: Odunpazarı

The Odunpazarı quarter of Eskişehir is awaiting you with its historic houses, narrow lanes and warm, friendly people.

The first settlers in Eskişehir’s Odunpazarı quarter were in a dilemma as to where to found their city. So they hung a sheep’s liver up in two areas in order to decide between them. Whichever place the liver was preserved longer without rotting, that was where they would settle. Odunpazarı was that place!
Whether or not this legend surrounding the founding of the city is true is anybody’s guess, but one thing is sure: Odunpazarı and its unique houses invite you to a cultural and visual feast! Some of the houses that line the narrow streets seem to have stepped right out of an oil painting with their dark brown window frames against pristine white walls. And others add still more colors to the canvas with their indigo blue and tile red facades.

Streets Of Every Color
The houses harbor within them the salient characteristics of Ottoman period urban architecture. Designed both as family spaces and in line with the family’s means of livelihood, they generally consisted of a kitchen, stable, laundry room or storage area on ground level with rooms for the family on the upper levels.  Divans on the cantilevered balconies known as ‘cumba’ (pronounced ‘joombah’) allowed those sitting inside to see out. These cumba’s were usually in the largest room of the house, known as the ‘başoda’ or ‘head room’,  which was distinguished from the others by its elaborate decorations and wood work. Also encountered in these houses are large cupboards, used for storage in their day but at the same time exemplifying the fine wood workmanship of the period. Many of these houses today have been decorated and enriched with household furnishings that reflect the life of the time.
Besides the houses, the district also boasts the Kurşunlu or Leaded Mosque Complex unique to the period. And the Odunpazarı Glass Museum and historic Atlıhan Market with examples of the region’s traditional handicrafts are among its must-see sights. 
Carried out by the Odunpazarı Municipality, the Odunpazarı Houses Preservation Project is a major undertaking from the point of view of promoting this historic and cultural heritage around the world. Within the scope of the project, the mansions on Beyler Street, which has the highest concentration of traditional Odunpazarı houses, are first being restored in keeping with their original appearance, thus bringing them to the light of day in all their splendor.

Economic Development
But this project is not limited to preserving a cultural heritage. It is also opening the door to serious economic development for the people of the region. More and more tourists are coming here by the day as a result of the restored houses and the promotional activities being carried out, most notably by the Odunpazarı Municipality. The number of entrepreneurs offering bed&breakfasts and other lodging are on the rise and the economy is thriving. Several women entrepreneurs have also joined in the action by opening their own businesses. Having given life to Eskişehir in the past, Odunpazarı today is continuing to develop with a brand new face and identity.

If you would like to spend an enjoyable day living and breathing history and witnessing the life of a bygone era, don’t miss Odunpazarı.