Just a ferry ride away from Istanbul is Turkey’s fourth largest city and the Ottoman Empire’s first capital – Bursa. Settled on the coastline of the Marmara Sea and on the north-western slopes of Mount Uludağ, Bursa gained historical importance during the reign of the Ottomans and when it was made the capital of the Ottoman Principality.
The city is second only to Istanbul with regards to its abundance of Ottoman architecture and works of art. What makes this city special is the preservation of historical monuments and buildings located in and around the city centre. With a historic landscape and elements of a modern city, Bursa invites travellers to go back in history as they explore this open air museum city amid the breath-taking mountain scenery.
“Bursa is indeed an enchanting city with beautiful natural features including both mountains and the sea. A visit to this authentic living Ottoman city will impart you with the best of both worlds – historical and modernity – as you discover the culture, places and people,” said Kaan Yilmaz, Attaché in the Turkish Tourism and Information Office, Malaysia.
One of Bursa’s most significant landmarks is the Ulu Cami’i (Grand Mosque) that boasts its architectural features, the quality of its wood carvings and intricate calligraphy decorations. This impressive mosque was built between the years 1396 to 1400 and has 20 domes, 12 pillars and three entrance portals in total.
In 2014, Bursa was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List with eight locations spread across the city, including the first religious and social complexes called külliye. A typical külliye is designed with a central mosque and a series of ancillary buildings such as bathhouse, religious school, kitchens, hospital, and library. Many of these complexes can be found in Bursa in the different neighbourhoods of Yıldırım, Muradiye and more.
The Yeşil Complex in the Yeşil neighbourhood is a popular külliye and one that is considered to be the few masterpieces of early Ottoman architecture due to its excellent masonry and glazed tiles. An important site to visit in the complex is the octagonal Yeşil Tomb that is covered with turquoise coloured tiles, giving it its name ‘Green Tomb’ and a colour that is enthusiastically identified with Bursa.
While, located 10 kilometres away from the city at the base of Uludağ, is another UNESCO site called Cumalıkızık. In this quaint 700 year-old Ottoman village, visitors will find some of the best examples of Ottoman civic architecture with Ottoman-style houses that line the narrow cobblestone streets. A good tip to explore this rustic village is to arrive with an empty stomach as Cumalıkızık is known for their hearty old-fashioned Turkish breakfasts served by hospitable homeowners.
Another must-visit attraction in Bursa can be reached via the teleferik (cable car) up to the tallest mountain in the region. Uludağ, also known as Sublime Mountain, is one of Turkey’s most important winter sports centres with various activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. This popular winter wonderland can also be enjoyed throughout the other seasons with the several designated trekking routes and camping facilities available at the National Park. This makes it an ideal escape from the heat for a breath of fresh cool air during the hotter months.
Aside to these attractions, no trip to Bursa is complete without experiencing some of the city’s best gems. For food enthusiasts, be sure to taste the unique İskender kebab, the savoury Mihaliç cheese and the popular candied chestnuts. With Bursa also known for its silk and wool fabrics, shoppers can easily purchase silk and famous soft and fully towels and bathrobes at the historic Koza Han. Moreover, the city has rich sources of therapeutic thermal springs and spas that have become popular sites today. Discover all these and more in the home of Bursa at https://goturkey.com/.