Modern Manisa is a booming center of industry and services, advantaged by its closeness to the international port city and the regional metropolitan center of İzmir and by its fertile hinterland rich in quantity and variety of agricultural production. In fact, İzmir’s proximity also adds a particular dimension to all aspects of life’s pace in Manisa in the form of a dense traffic of daily commuters between the two cities, separated as they are by a half-hour drive served by a fine six-lane highway nevertheless requiring attention at all times due to its curves and the rapid ascent (sea-level to more than 500 meters at Sabuncubeli Pass) across Mount Sipylus‘s mythic scenery.
The historic part of Manisa spreads out from a forested valley in the immediate slopes of Sipylus mountainside, along Çaybaşı Stream which flows next to Niobe‘s “Weeping Rock” (“Ağlayan Kaya”), an ancient bridge called the “Red Bridge” (“Kırmızı Köprü”) as well as to several tombs-shrines in the Turkish style dating back to the Saruhan period (14th century). Under Ottoman rule in the centuries that followed, the city had already extended into the undulated terrain at the start of the plain. In the last couple of decades, Manisa’s width more than tripled in size across its vast plain formed by the alluvial deposits of the River Gediz, a development in which the construction of new block apartments, industrial zones and of Celal Bayar University campus played a key role.
The city of Manisa is also widely visited, especially during March and September festivals, the former festival being the continuation of a five-hundred-year-old “Mesir Paste Distribution” tradition, and also for the nearby Mount Spil national park. It is also a departure point for other visitor attractions of international acclaim which are located nearby within Manisa’s depending region, such as Sardes and Alaşehir (ancient Philadelphia) inland. The city also has a Jewish community.