Edirne is a city of migration

Edirne's century of border-town existences


Edirne, Turkey

Nearly a century ago, Muslim families found a home in Edirne. This city on Turkey's European border seemed a safe haven from the civil wars that stormed through the Balkans and led to Archduke Ferdinand's assassination – and ultimately World War I.

Since 2011, Muslims stop in Edirne on their way to Europe, fleeing the Syrian Civil War as well as ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. For a Roads & Kingdoms and Slate collaboration, I wrote about how these refugees availed themselves of the migration trails through the city.


Gazi Mihal Mosque

Built in 1422. the Gazi Mihal mosque was built by a Greek governor who converted to Islam. It is the center of a religious complex that sits across a river from Edirne, a symbol of the complex gradient of European identity in this region of the Balkans.

I analyzed how the grandchildren of refugees saw themselves in – or separated themselves from – the migrant communities who set up on the western edge of Edirne's old city. I spoke with civil society organizations about their city's complicated history, and I reflected on how the chance of Turkey's 1923 decision to control Edirne instead of Aleppo has echoed through the built environment of this Balkan city.