As the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa is known as the city where Ottoman architects left behind the Seljuk Turkish architecture of the past and developed their own Ottoman mosque architecture (based partly on Persian and Byzantine models) which then saw its greatest expression in the sublime Ottoman mosques of Edirne (second capital of the empire) and Istanbul (third and last imperial capital).
Anyone with an interest in architecture should see the unique Muradiye-Hüdavendigâr Mosque (1366) in Çekirge, the Seljuk-style Ulu Cami (Great Mosque, 1399), the early Ottoman transitional Yesil Cami (Green Mosque, 1424), the similar Muradiye Cami (Mosque of Sultan Murat II, 1426), and the Ottoman rococo Emir Sultan Mosque (1805).
Beautiful mosques are not the only thing to see in Bursa. The city has lots of quaint old Ottoman houses, particularly in the Hisar district just west of the city center.
The Bursa suburb of Çekirge is famed throughout Turkey for its hot mineral-water baths. As one of Turkey’s premier spa resorts, Çekirge has most of the city’s finer, more comfortable, more upscale hotels, though there are still serviceable hotels in the city center.
Shopping is good in Bursa’s Covered Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) and adjoining caravanserais, including the Koza (Silkwork Cocoon), Han, the İpek (Silk) Han, and several others at the center of the city next to the Ulu Cami.
Bursa’s shopping districtactually sprawls far beyond the historic bazaar buildings and offers a bewildering array of items. Silk, particularly silk scarves, are a specialty, as are Karagöz shadow puppets.
Dining is another Bursa specialty, as the city and region have long been famous for their fresh fruits (particularly the peaches), candied chestnuts (kestane şekeri), and especially İskender kebap, slices of roast lamb dressed with browned butter and savory tomato sauce.
Should you tire of the city’s bustle (and it does bustle!), you can escape to the summit of Uludağ (Great Mountain), the Mount Olympus of the ancient province of Bithynia. It rises to the south of the city, which is built on its slopes. A teleferik (cable car) east of the city center takes you to near the summit, for hiking (or just some fresh, cool air) in summer, and for skiing in winter. More…
Here’s how to see the top sights in Bursa in one day.
—by Tom Brosnahan
|See Bursa in One Day