Edirne can undoubtedly be called the city of spectacular bridges. Two of these historical structures are situated close to Sultan Bayezid II Mosque Complex. In this area, the Tunca River divides into two branches that flow around a small island. When the waters of the river reach higher levels in rainy seasons, this island disappears completely underwater.
Luckily, the travellers and pilgrims who want to reach Sultan Bayezid II Mosque from the centre of Edirne can walk there without getting their feet wet. The safe passage over the Tunca River is provided by two bridges, connected with a stylish passage.
The first of these bridges, nearer to the centre of the city, is called Yalnızgöz. Its name means a 'lonely eye' and illustrates the fact that it is a single-span bridge. Yalnızgöz is considered a work of unique beauty. It was designed by the most famous Ottoman architect - Mimar Sinan - on the order of the Sultan Selim II, in 1567.
Yalnızgöz Bridge belongs to the network of bridges designed by Sinan as the part of the so-called Sultana's Road project. It was initialised during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. This strategic route was to connect Istanbul with Belgrade and allow the Ottoman army to conquer Europe. In his autobiography, Sinan enumerated eight bridges, including Yalnızgöz in Edirne, which he built within the scope of this project. Some researchers add four other bridges to this calculation.
The stone bridge, situated closer to Sultan Bayezid II Mosque, bears the name of the same sultan. Its alternative name is Yeni İmaret Köprüsü, meaning New Soup Kitchen Bridge. Apparently, this is how the people perceived this construction - as a way to get to the newly erected mosque complex where a soup kitchen was waiting for the poor. The bridge is chronologically earlier as it was constructed in 1488. Its purpose was to make it easier for the faithful to reach the newly built mosque complex. The chief architect responsible for the building was Hayrettin, acting on behalf of the Sultan Bayezid II.
From a distance, these two bridges give the impression of a uniform construction, but in fact, they have been created at the interval of almost the entire century. The additional passage, supported by arches, connects the bridges. It was added even later, in 1611. It facilitates the transition between the bridges, when the level of water in the Tunca River rises, creating a swamp or flooding the island situated between the bridges.
Both bridges and the passage are about 6 meters wide. In 2012, the system of interconnected bridges underwent a thorough renovation.
The bridges span the banks of the Tunca River, to the north-west of the historical centre of Edirne. The distance from the heart of the city - the Selimiye Mosque - is 1.3 km.