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The site of the ancient town of Magnesia ad Sipylus, Manisa lies about 40km east of Menemen (on the main Çanakkale– İzmir highway) and is easily reached from there, or from İzmir itself, by way of pleasant mountain roads. Over ninety percent of the historic centre was destroyed by the Greek army during its 1922 retreat, but despite this Manisa remains an interesting place with a few fine Selçuk and Ottoman monuments, reminiscent of Bursa as it spills out from the foot of the Manisa Daıı mountain range.
At the south end of Ören Caddesi, the extension of Ibrahim Gökçen Bulvarı, the Sultan Camii was built in 1522 for Aye Hafize, the mother of Süleyman the Magnificent, who lived here with her son while he was serving as governor. This rectangular mosque is much wider than it is deep, its single central dome flanked by two pairs of satellite domes.
Across from the Sultan Camii stands the Saruhan Bey Türbesi, the tomb of Saruhan Bey, who took Manisa in 1313, ending Byzantine sovereignty. His army is said to have attacked Sandıkkale, the city's castle, driving a flock of goats with candles on their horns before them to give the impression that a huge army was attacking. The defenders panicked and the castle fell – an event commemorated here by a festival each November 13.
Barely 100m further east along the same side of Murat Caddesi you'll find the Muradiye Camii, built for Murat III in 1583–85 while he was governor here. The interior, with its stained-glass windows and relatively restrained decoration – despite the use of 12kg of gold – is impressive: the carved wooden mimber, or pulpit, and the sultan's loge are particularly fine, as are the İznik tiles around the mihrab and the windows.
Manisa's oldest surviving mosque, the Ulu Cami, sits on a natural terrace amid a panoramic park 250m above the museum. Built on the site of a Byzantine church in 1366 by Iak Çelebi, the grandson of Saruhan Bey, it is basically a square walled compound divided into two rectangles, with a medrese – still functioning as a children's Koran school – tacked onto the west side. Entering the open-roofed courtyard via the ornate portal, you confront the glory of the place, a forest of varied antique columns, some "double" and others carrying Byzantine capitals, many presumably recycled from the church that formerly stood on the site.