As many provinces located in the Aegean Region of Turkey, Manisa embodies traces of rooted history of the region and of historical cumulation that has hosted many civilizations which have come and gone. Many remains and information, especially about the region, pertaining to Ancient age civilizations have survived to our day.
Thought to be the first founders of the city, Magnetes are quite an old Greek tribe. In Iliad, written by famous Greek poet Homer, Magnetes are talked about to join the Greek army surrounding Troy. Their real homeland is Thessaly region of Greece, a part of which is still known as Magnesia.
Magnetes have migrated to Anatolia during dispersion period of Greek tribes, and built the city of Magnesia on mountain sides of the mountain called Spylos Mountain back in those days. The origin of today's urban settlement in Manisa is regarded as being based on this city built by Magnetes.
In fact, discovered archaeological remains pertaining to human settlement and existence in the area refer to times way before this period. Nevertheless, information on this period, when people had not yet transitioned into settled life, is limited indeed.
Fossil footprints found in Sindel Village under the administration of Salihli within borders of Manisa province are dated at 26,000 years ago. In addition, tombs located in Kırkağaç Yortan Village are thought to belong to approximately 5,000 years ago, to the Bronze Age culture.
It might not be known today especially by people of Turkey that history of Manisa naturally goes back to such old periods. However, Manisa is known by almost all people of Turkey as “The City of Princes”. These lands, annexed permanently to the Ottoman State ruled by Chelebi Mehmet in 1412, have been transformed into an administrative unit under the name of Sanjak of Saruhan.
After going under the rule of Ottomans, the city has been governed by princes from 1437 until when the ascension process of princes to the throne has been abandoned. During this period, 16 princes have become sanjak governors in Manisa; among whom were sultans who have later sat on the Ottoman throne; such as Murad II, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, Kanuni Sultan Süleyman, Selim II, Murad III, Mehmet III and Mustafa I.
This is the reason for the name “The City of Princes” commonly known among people. However, this period can be regarded as a period of time very close to our day, and as a small section with regard to historical adventure of Manisa. Because, as well as witnessing the days when many ancient civilizations; such as Hittites, Frygians and Lydians ruled, Magnesia, the city built by Magnetes in ancient ages, bears the traces of Saruhan Principality as well to a great extent, the impacts of which reach until our day.
Going way back in Manisa history and taking a look, we see that the city had gone under the rule of Hittites between the years 1450-1200. Kybele Monument, located at Mount Spil, today under protection as a national park in Manisa, is the most significant evidence of Hittites presence in the region. As it is known, Kybele is an important Goddess for Hittites people and for many ancient civilizations that have passed through Anatolia.
After Hittites, another very prominent civilization has established its reign in the area around 1200 B.C., and has ruled the whole Western Anatolia all the way to Kızılırmak by including Manisa region for many years. This civilization is Lydian civilization, the owner of a great invention which we still use today, and which virtually has been ruling the world.
The civilization to coin money, the most powerful transaction tool of all times, for the first time with the indemnity of the state, Lydians have chosen the region located in Sart district of Manisa today as their Capital. Sart, or called Sardes by Lydians, was the capital of a state which had had a great economical and political power during the 6th and 7th centuries B.C.. In fact, a significant portion of the wealth of Lydians is thought to come from gold mines in the vicinity of Paktalos River, today known as Sart Stream.
Many typical mausoleums of the ancient age, still located in Bintepeler site in the vicinity of Sart, and called tumulus, are within the boundaries of Manisa province as a very old memory of rich and magnificent history of Lydians.
Manisa has never lost the prominence it has gained through its geographical location, richness of natural resources and being the host of a great civilization for centuries in subsequent years, and the history of the region has included conflicts between civilizations and different states, and handing over of lands.
The region has gone under the rule of Persians after Lydians, and remained so for approximately 200 years. The victory of Alexander the Great over the Persian Army by moving on to Anatolia over Thrace has ended the 200-year dominance; however, the dissolution of the empire after the death of Alexander the Great has caused the region to be seized by the Kingdom of Pergamon. The most important remains of the period which ended in 301 B.C. with the dissolution of the empire of Alexander the Great are the remains of The Temple of Artemis located in the vicinity of Sart.
Coming under the rule of the Roman Empire after the Kingdom of Pergamon, the region has never lost its significance especially as a commerce center; in addition, new ones have been added to the crops produced on lands irrigated by Gediz and Bakırçay streams with the revival of production. Following the division of the Roman Empire into two in 395 A.C., it has remained within the borders of the Eastern Roman; in other words, the Byzantine Empire.
After İstanbul was conquered during The Fourth Crusade and came under the Catholic hegemony, the capital of the Byzantine Empire has been moved to İznik. Emperor Iannes Ducas Vatatzes has lived in Manisa for many long years. This has allowed the city to gain a great political, economical and social importance during the first half of 1200s. During this period, Manisa has virtually become the center of the West Anatolia and Byzantine Empire.
The first steps of developments to make Manisa “The City of Princes” as we have mentioned before can be told to taken in the beginning of the 14th century. This development to let the region be called as the Sanjak of Saruhan during the period it has been under the dominance of the Ottoman Empire is the conquest of Manisa in the night of Lailat al Ragha'ib corresponding to the date of October 25-26, 1313 by soldiers under the command of Saruhan Bey. This development coinciding with the Principalities Period during which Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm was in the dissolution phase has resulted in the dominance of Saruhanoğulları Principality over the region with Manisa at the center.
Saruhanoğulları Principality has lived its most glorious days during the rule of İlyas Bey, son of Saruhan Bey, who has ascended the throne after his death, and especially of İshak Bey, following the period of İlyas Bey. Works such as Ulu Mosque and Külliye, Mawlawi House and Çukur Bath are from the İshak Bey period. After his death in 1388, the region, within highly stirred political atmosphere of the time, has been a stage for conflicts among the Ottomans, Anatolian Principalities and Timurid Empire ruled by Timur. Firstly annexed to the Ottoman Empire by Beyazıd I, Saruhanoğulları Principality has reacquired the status of principality after being defeated against Timur in the Battle of Ankara; however, it has permanently been annexed to the lands of the Ottoman Empire by Mehmet I in 1410.
To become an administrative center of the Ottoman Empire as the Sanjak of Saruhanoğulları right after this period, the region gives the title of “The City of Princes” to Manisa as the city where princes gain the experience of governing by ascending the sanjak for many years. During the course of this period; princes, other governors around them and nobles have made many waqf works built; such as mosques, madrasas, hans, baths, almshouses, fountains, hospitals, bridges and libraries in Manisa. Some of these have been able to survive to our day.
After the abolition of the ascension process of princes to the throne, Manisa and its vicinity, sharing the fate of the Empire and losint its old glorious days, embodies the traces of another locally dominant family that has regained power during the 18th century. Although this family, which was called Karamanoğulları, has had unstable relations with the Ottoman Empire as necessitated by the conditions of the period, its historical contributions to the region and to the city of Manisa are of quality that cannot be underestimated. It is possible today to still find many historical buildings that have been ordered to be constructed by Karaosmanoğulları Family in different periods. Hacı Mustafa Agha Primary School (Sübyan Mektebi), New Han and Karaosmanoğlu Mosque in Kırkağaç are examples of such buildings.
Invasion of lands of the Ottoman Empire, which was virtually destroyed with The Armistice of Mudros, has left Manisa face-to-face with Greek invasion. During the invasion lasted for three years, many guilds established in the region have struggled against the invasion. The city was set on fire by imperial forces fleeing towards İzmir after the victory in the Battle of Dumlupınar in the War of Independence and Greek resistance has been broken, and the fire to last for days has resulted in the loss of many cultural wealth elements of the city. In September 8, 1922, days of invasion that have lasted for three years were ended and Manisa was liberated from the invasion of enemy forces. The name Saruhan was changed in the year 1927, and Manisa has joint the administrative development as a province of the young Republic of Turkey.