Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of big cities in the southeast of the Marmara region, Bilecik's serene, marshy and evergreen Pazaryeri district has become a hit with tourists, especially during these days when social distancing is all the more important due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district, which is 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) away from the city center, has been attracting travelers from neighboring large cities such as Bursa, Eskişehir and Sakarya, especially on the weekends, thanks to its eight ponds, natural scenery, rich soil and calm camping spots.
Areas around the ponds of Bozcaarmut, Küçükelmalı, Büyükelmalı, Günyurdu, Sarnıç, Esere, Dereköy and Mustafa Eldemir, where the blues and greens of nature meet, offer great stress-relieving picnic grounds.
With a population of only 11,000, the district has in the past hosted a swell of visitors 15 times its population in the high season, though this year, understandably, the area has been relatively quieter.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Pazaryeri Mayor Zekiye Tekin told reporters that she aims to make the district a center of attraction for tourists.
"There is great interest in our ponds, both domestically and internationally. Camping activities in our region are also in high demand. Caravans have started pouring into the province," she said.
“At the moment, our work in the surrounding areas of some of the ponds continues. Hiking trails around the Bozcaarmut pond have been completed. Similar works will be done in the Günyurdu area. We have plans to create bicycle trails and more camping areas," she added.
Avni Yılmaz, an Eskişehir local who came to the Esere Pond to get some fresh air away from the city, said: "The nature of this place is beautiful; the air is so clean. The environment is quiet. We try to get away from the city and come here (at every opportunity) because we find peace here."