Kutahya is a prominent city in Turkey, known widely as one of the capitals for ceramic and tile production throughout the Middle East. Kutahya attracts tourists from all over the world due to its unique style of ceramics.
It has many museums and historical sites that make the city one of Turkey’s premier tourist destinations. The city also has a rich history, as it changed hands between many different rulers and kingdoms.
Read on to learn about the city of Kutahya.
Where is Kütahya?
Kütahya is a city located in the Central Anatolia region of western Turkey. It sits on the Porsuk river 969 meters above sea level and is 182 km southeast of Bursa and 78 km southwest of Eskişehir.
The city has 564,294 people and is the capital of the Kütahya Province. During Roman times, the city’s Greek name, Kotyaion, was changed to Cotyaeum. The region’s topography has gentle slopes of agricultural land and elevated mountain ridges to the west and north.
The city has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. According to environmentalists, Kütahya is predicted to be the city in Turkey that is most affected by global warming.
The city is near the Temple of Zeus in Aizanoi, which are among the best-preserved Roman ruins in Turkey. The temple is next to the village of Cavdarhisar, 60 km south of Kütahya, toward Uşak. The remains of the ancient Phrygian kingdom (1200-600 BC) can be found throughout the hills east of Kütahya, south of Eskisehir, and north of Afyon.
Hungarian revolutionary Lajos Kossuth fled to the city when Russian troops defeated his 1849 revolt against the Hapsburgs. He lived in the city from 1850 to 1851. His house is now a museum.
Many of Kütahya’s older neighborhoods are traditional Ottoman houses, and the city is full of many historical mosques. The city has a Great Mosque that dates back to 1410, a 16th-century market building, and a former theological seminary dating back to 1440.
The are several museums in the city, including the country’s only tile museum and an archaeology museum.
Kütahya Ceramics and Tiles
The city is well-known for its colored tiles and ceramics throughout its history. Behind the city of İznik, Kütahya was considered the second-highest ceramic-producing city in the Ottoman Empire. This ranking is primarily due to the abundance of clay found in the area.
Upon the city becoming part of the Ottoman Empire in 1428, many Christian Armenians settled in Kütahya, where they came to dominate the city’s tile-making and ceramic-ware production. From then on, Kütahya emerged as a prominent center for the Ottoman ceramic industry, producing tiles and faience for mosques, churches, and official buildings in places all over the Middle East.
David Ohannessian, who ran a Kütahya workshop from 1907 to 1915, started the craft industry of Armenian ceramics in Jerusalem. He was deported from Kütahya in 1916 during the Armenian genocide. He was discovered living as a refugee in Aleppo, Syria, in 1918. He would bring many of the Armenian traditions of Kütahya into Jerusalem and establish local Armenian ceramic practices there.
Today the ceramics and tiles of Kütahya are an integral part of the city’s culture and economy. There is a strong international demand for the Ottoman Kütahya styles of ceramics.
Sugar refining, tanning, nitrate processing, and meerschaum are all large industries of the city. It also produces an abundance of cereals, fruits, and sugar beet. The raising of livestock also brings in much of the city’s income.
There are nearby mines that extract lignite. The city is linked by railways and roads to Baliksesir 250 km to the west, Konya 450 km to the southeast Eskisehir 70 km to the northeast, and Ankara 300 km east.
History of Kütahya
The city was known as Cotyaeum during Ancient times. It was part of the Phrygia Salutaris Roman province and became the Phrygia Salutaris III province’s capital in 820. During this period, the city’s bishopric changed from being a suffragan of Synnada to a metropolitan see. According to 6th-century historian John Malalas, Cyrus of Panopolis acted as the prefect of Constantinople after four of the city’s bishops had been killed. (There is some disagreement among historians, with some claiming that Cyrus became bishop of Smyrna instead.)
Domnius, who attended the Council of Ephesus, acted as the bishopric of the city in 431, while Marcianus, who participated at the Council Chalcedon, became a bishopric in 451. A bishop of the city named Cotyaeum attended the Second Council of Constantinople in 553.
Cosmas participated at the Third Council of Constantinople in 680-681. Ioannes, a deacon of the city, represented the city’s bishop at the Trullan Council of 692. Bishop Constantinus attended the Second Council of Nicaea in 692, and Bishop Anthimus participated at the Photian Council of Constantinople of 879. The city is no longer considered a residential bishopric. Today, the Catholic Church is listed only as a titular see.
The town was fortified with a citadel and a double line of walls under Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. The city fell to the Seljuk Turks in 1071. It would fall under many others’ control during the ensuing years, including the Crusaders, Germinyanids, and Timur-Leng.
The city would eventually become part of the Ottoman Empire in 1428. Many Christian Armenians settled in the city during this period. They began to lead the tile and ceramic making of the city. The city would emerge as one of the most revered cities for ceramic production in all of the Ottoman Empire. The city would produce tiles and faience for churches, mosques, and other buildings throughout the Middle East. The city’s fortifications and its environs, which were crucial to the region’s security and economic prosperity, were built and renovated from antiquity through the Ottoman Period.
The city was initially the center of Antalia Eyalet until 1827, when Hüdavendigâr Eyalet was created. It would later become the sanjak center in the Hüdavendigâr Vilayet in 1867. The Egyptian troops of Ibrahim Pasha briefly occupied the city in 1833.
At the end of the 19th century, the city’s population was 120,333, of which 4,050 were Greek, 2,533 were Armenian, 754 were Catholic, and the rest were Turks and other Muslims. The Kütahya province was largely protected from the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Faik Ali Bey, the Turkish governor, went to great lengths to protect the Armenian population from being sent away on death marches. Unfortunately, when Ali Bey was removed from office in 1916, much of the Armenian people suffered during the genocide’s aftermath under Governor Ahmet Mufit Bey’s rule.
During the Turkish War of Independence in July 1921, Greek troops occupied the city. During the Great Offense of August 1922, it experienced another occupation after the Battle of Dumlupinar.
We have covered many aspects of the city of Kütahya, Turkey.
Let’s go over the key components of why Kütahya is such a fascinating city.
- The city is world-renown for its unique style of ceramics and colored tiles
- The city is located in western Turkey and enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate
- Environmental experts predict that the city will be one of the region’s most affected cities by the effects of climate change
- The city has many museums and historical sites that attract tourists every year
- Many Christian Armenians moved into the city during the 15th century and would establish a significant community in the city. During the 1915 Armenian genocide, many of the city’s Armenians could escape the atrocities thanks to the governor’s protection.
The city of Kütahya has earned its place as one of the premier tourist destinations in all of Turkey.
Kütahya’s pottery, historical sites, and museums attract visitors every year trying to experience a breadth of Turkish and Ottoman culture.