Hereke is a town situated near Istanbul, in the Gulf of Izmit, in the Kocaeli province. It has a seafront promenade and some fine old Ottoman style buildings. Part of the town is built on a cliff edge with the main partially elevated Istanbul highway cutting through the middle of the town. There is also a marina harbour area and the town has a large castle ( Hereke Kalesi ).
Along the town’s coast road you will find the Hereke Carpet Weavers factory ( Milli Saraylar Hereke ve Ipekli Dokuma Fabrikasi ) in an impressive building situated along the sea front road. Carpets from Hereke are world famous. Every Turkish person will be able to tell you about the silk carpets from Hereke. Hand made carpets are what made Hereke renowned throughout the world. In 1843, Sultan Abdulmecid, an Ottoman Emperor, founded the Hereke Imperial Factory in Hereke with the aim of producing carpets, uphostery, fabrics and curtains exclusively for the newly constructed Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.
In addition to being produced in Hereke, a team of weavers worked in a workshop at Dolmaabahce Palace and produced some of the finest examples of Hereke carpets that you will ever see all in one place. There are over 140 carpets and around 120 prayer rugs in total. Hereke silk carpets take many design forms and were made for export and sent as gifts to heads of state around the globe. Hereke carpets are crafted using a double knot with carpets typically having over one million knots per square metre. These hand made carpets are probably the finest silk carpets in the world.
Sadly, the Chinese have captured the Hereke market place, adding confusion and uncertainty to the traditional and genuine carpets that are made in Turkey. They basically created an industrial zone called Hereke in China and then stole and cloned the Turkish designs and offered them for sale worldwide.
The Hereke Castle orginally dates back hundreds of years and was built on a hill by the Byzantines to protect the harbour. Known originally as Ancryon, Hereke took its name from the Emperor Heraclius in later years. The castle fell into ruin and was totally rebuilt to attract tourism to the town. There is nothing left of the orginal castle but there are some spectacular views of the town below and the Gulf of Izmit.
There is very little to do in Hereke. Take a stroll around the town, classed as a village officially, and visit the Carpet factory, marina and castle. You can probably spend half a day here.