Bursa Tourist Attractions
SituationThe Early Ottoman capital of Bursa, formerly called Broussa and known in antiquity as Prusa, lies about 100km/62mi south of Istanbul as the crow flies, and some 30km/19mi inland from the Sea of Marmara.
It occupies a limestone terrace on the northwest side of Uludag, the terrace being dissected by the Gök Dere and the Djilimbos, two mountain streams.The CityBlessed with a delightful climate and the loveliest of settings south of the Karadag coastal uplands, Bursa with its picturesque Old Town and magnificent buildings (mosques and türbes) is one of the highlights of any visit to Turkey. The city also enjoys a long-standing reputation as a spa, the thermal springs in the northwestern suburb of Çekirge, popular even in Roman times, attracting large numbers of visitors (modern baths and up-to-date treatment facilities). Agriculture, mainly fruit and vegetable-growing, flourishes in the fertile surrounding countryside; Bursa peaches are renowned throughout Turkey). With its several large textile factories centered around an efficient and productive silk-spinning mill, Bursa, provincial capital and university town (faculty of agriculture), is one of Turkey's most prosperous communities. In recent years a number of metal-working companies have also become established.HistoryThe town is said to have been founded by King Prusias I of Bythnia in 186 B.C., the first settlement being on the citadel hill. Under Trajan the baths were rebuilt, and a library was established by Pliny the Younger, then governor of Bythnia. In Byzantine times the town's prosperity continued to rely mainly on its thermal springs. After falling into Seljuk hands in 1097, followed by another period of Byzantine rule, Bursa became the first capital of the Ottoman Sultans, a status it retained until 1361. Its great heyday was in the 15th century, which has left many monuments of art and architecture. During the 19th century it suffered destruction by fire and earthquake.
The Great Mosque (Ulu Cami) in the city center of Bursa was begun in 1379, during the reign of Murat I. It is a typical pillared mosque, very much in the Seljuk tradition. The entrance on the north side with its two flanking minarets, leads directly into the main hall, its 20 domes supported on twelve pillars linked to pointed arches. The open central dome and the fountain basin below give the hall something of the aspect of an inner courtyard. Round the fountain is the raised platform on which worshippers pray. On the square pillars and the walls are calligraphic inscriptions in the angular Kufic script and the Neshi script. There is a fine cedarwood mimber (pulpit) of about 1400.
The bazaar quarter (Atpazari) in Bursa was badly damaged by the 1855 earthquake and a fire in 1957, but has recently been restored. Notable features are the Bedesten (market hall) with its fourteen domes, one of the earliest of its kind (ca. 1400), and several hans (caravanserais).
The citadel (hisar), to the west of the city center of Bursa, is strategically situated on a small plateau which falls steeply away on the north, east and west sides and on the south side is linked with the Uludag massif by a lower-lying area with numerous springs. The citadel proper is surrounded by a wall, originally with four gates, which was built in Roman times and several times renovated during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Here, too, are the türbes of Sultans Orhan and Osman, which were badly damaged by the 1855 earthquake and rebuilt in the reign of Sultan Abdul Aziz.On the north side of the citadel hill is a terrace (clock-tower) from which there are fine views of the city and surrounding area.
The Muradiye Camii, just to the west of the city center of Bursa, was built by the Sultan Murat II (after whom it is named) in 1447, by which time Bursa had ceased to be the capital of the Ottoman Empire. A forecourt with cypresses and a beautiful fountain leads via a portico, carried on piers and columns, with a doorway and four windows, to the inner hall, its ceiling clad with rare and beautiful tiles.In the gardens of the mosque are ten polygonal domed türbes, their entrances sheltered under overhanging roofs, belonging to Murat II and members of his family.
Its sumptuous decoration makes the Green Mosque, a kilometer east of the city center of Bursa, one of the great master works of Ottoman religous architecture. It was built by Mehmet I between 1419 and 1423 on the site of an earlier Byzantine church. The original minarets, clad with green tiles, were destroyed in an earthquake in 1855, as was the marble vestibule. The doorway with its stalactitic niche, however, is well preserved. On either side of the entrance to the central hall are beautiful tiled niches, above which are the Sultan's loge and the women's loges, screened by grilles. In the main hall the bases of the walls are covered with the bluish-green tiles from which the mosque gets its name, and above this an inscription around the walls.
Facing the Green Mosque in Bursa, rather higher up, is the Green Mausoleum (Yesil Türbe) of Mehmet I, a domed octagonal building clad externally with the green tiles with which parts of the interior walls are still faced. The missing tiles have been replaced with modern reproductions.On the octagonal base is Mehmet I's sarcophagus, with superb tile decoration (floral motifs, calligraphic inscriptions).
Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art
The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, in the Green Medrese (Yesil Medrese, 1414-24), a kilometer east of the city center of Bursa, was opened in 1974. It offers a comprehensive survey of the art of the Ottoman period: pearl and ivory articles, intarsia work, manuscripts, decorated book-covers, screens, sections of beautifully decorated wooden ceilings, weapons, tiles from Iznik and Kütahya, embroidery, ornaments, fine textiles, superbly wrought articles from tekkes (dervish convents), calligraphy and tombstones.An unusual collection of turbans in various forms are on display.
The Bursa Archeological Museum, originally housed in the Green Medrese, was moved in 1972 to a new building in the Çekirge Park of Culture (2km/1.25mi northwest of the center of Bursa). The museum has four exhibition halls, storerooms, a library and a laboratory.
On the south side of Bursa is a handsome late 19th century house in which the "Father of modern Turkey" stayed during his thirteen visits to Bursa between 1923 and 1938. Converted to a museum in 1973 it contains furniture and personal effects belonging to Atatürk and a variety of documentation on his life.
In the western suburb of Çekirge are some of the most celebrated sulfurous and chalybeate thermal springs and baths in the East. Known in antiquity as the "royal" springs, they were undoubtedly in use before the Roman Imperial period, but both the Roman and the Byzantine buildings, which were visited by the Empress Theodora among others, have almost completely disappeared. The Old Bath (Eski Kaplica) was built by Sultan Murat I, using the remains of an earlier building. Close by is his first mosque, Gazi Hunkiar Camii (1365), on a cruciform plan. On the terrace of the mosque is the Türbe of Murat I, who was murdered in 1389 after the Battle of Kosova in Serbia.The New Bath (Yeni Kaplica), a master work of architecture with beautiful marble and tile decoration, was built by the Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasa in the 16th century.
Map of Bursa Attractions