Guide to SKOPJE

For 650 years Edirne homes the famous pehlivan fight

At the beginning of July, the city ofEdirne,Turkeyis the place where thousands of tourists go, guided by the wish to become part of history .This town, once the capitol of the Ottoman Empire, is the hometown of an event that captures eyes in the modern days as well. Since 1362, in this small northwestern Turkish city, a traditional tournament for pelivan fighting is being held. It is an event of great value for the community, because this competition is the oldest sports event that is being held without a break since it was held for the first time.

“ Oil wrestling “ is the name for this sport that is used in the western world. “ Pehlivan “ – wrestler, is the root of the word in Turkey, so that is the name in the Balkan area as well. To become a pelivan fighter, being a strong fighter is important, but that is just a small part. One of the main requirements is that the candidate must be a highly respected man in his community. To have proved himself as an honest man, possessing  high moral values as well as modesty. He has to spend a certain time as a student, helper in the home of the great master of pelivan fighting in that region. When a candidate passes all that, you could say that he has earned the right to walk the “ pelivan road “ .

The fights are a true spectacle. Because of the olive oil that the fighters apply all over their bodies before the fight, there is a problem to grab the opponent. Therefore, they use the “ hands on trousers “ tactics. That’s when the fighter holds his rival for his pants, in the attempt to break his balance and bring him down. Eventual win is followed by a ceremonial victory dance.

The tournament officials took 1362 as the founding year. The legend says that the soldiers of theOttoman Empirethat were passing here, organized a tournament to have some fun. Two of the strongest fighters met in the finals, which started at noon. When night fall. the other soldiers went to sleep. because they couldn’t follow the fight anymore. When they got up the next morning, they found the two finalists dead, lying next to each other, obviously fighting till the last breath. The soldiers buried them underneath the nearby fig tree, but the flourish of the pelivan fighting was yet to come. Soon, it spreads all over Asia, but today we have traditional tournaments in Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Iran, and one of the most important ones is held in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Since 1999, doping control became a part of this sport.

There is an initiative from several nations to include pelivan fighting into the Olympic family of sports. This request is founded on the claim that traditional wrestling is already a member of that family, and pelivan wrestling is like a mother of that sport. Time will show if this request will be granted. but this sport for sure already has it’s fans all over the world, and they will meet again this year inEdirne.

“ TrawelShop Turkey “ offers transportation and accommodation for those who are interested. Their arrangement has airplane transport, hotel accommodation, transfer to the tournament location and back, rent – a – car. day tours toIstanbuland more. The costs depends of the type of the arrangement you’ll choose. “  On the go Tours “ has an interesting offer too. For the amount of 249 US dollars, you get a private flight from theTurkeycapitol toEdirneand back, tourist guide, lunch in the city and a ticket to watch the fights. Almost every tourist agency inTurkeyhas some offers for this event in it’s program. You only have to decide which one accommodates your need the most, make the decision and give yourself to the joy that a trip to this beautiful country brings, and of course, attending the oldest sports tournament in the world.

Mutlu Gezisi:)