Citadel (Hisar), Bursa, Turkey

Last Updated on July 8, 2022

A ten-minute walk west uphill from the Ulu Cami, and the center of Bursa, the former citadel (hisar, hee-SAHR) is the oldest part of the city, built on a promontory and surrounded by great stone walls for ease of defense.

Because it is the oldest part of Bursa, it contains many fine old Ottoman-Bursa houses, some of them restored.

Walking up the hill from the Ulu Cami along Orhan Gazi (Yigitler) Caddesi, note the city walls on your left, which lead to a restored fortress gate. Just beoynd the gate is the Hotel Safran, a restored Bursa Ottoman house that now hosts travelers for the night.

Just beyond the Hotel Safran, on the opposite side of the street, are the tombs of Osman Gazi and Orhan Gazi, founders of the Ottoman dynasty. Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, and thus the great prize won by these warlordsm whose heirs went on to build an empire that encompassed much of eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

The tombs you see date from 1868, when they were rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1855. In Orhan’s tomb, note the bits of inlaid marble floor: this site was originally occupied by a Byzantine church.

From the park next to the tombs there are panoramic views of the city in the valley below, and shady tea houses at which to sit and enjoy the view and a bracing glass of Turkish tea or coffee.

—by Tom Brosnahan

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