The city of Bursa, southeast of the Sea of Marmara, lies on the lower slopes of Uludag (Mt. Olympos of Mysia, 2543 meters). The city derives its name from its founder King Prusias of Bithynia. Its previous antique name was Prussa ad Hypium. It subsequently came under Roman, then Byzantine rule before falling to Orhan Gazi in 1326, when it became the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. Many important Ottoman buildings remain.
Known as "Green Bursa", the city is filled with gardens and parks and overlooks a verdant plain. It is at the center of an important fruit growing region. Bursa was, and is still, famous for its peaches, silk trade, towel manufacture and thermal springs. Make a point to try the locally-created iskender Kebab, a dish of bread, tomato sauce, strips of grilled meat, melted butter and yogurt. Candied chestnuts are another regional specialty.
Bursa - Green Mosque
It was commissioned by Sultan Mehmed I Çelebi and completed in December 1419 or January 1420. The mosque was built between 1419–1421 by architect vezir Hacı İvaz Paşa. Following the earthquake in 1855, the building underwent an extensive renovation led by architect Léon Parvillée, as Ahmet Vefik Pasha, the Vali (governor) of Bursa, was unable to find a qualified Turkish architect. Parvillée managed to save the mosque but he lacked experience of the Seljukian and early Ottoman architecture. He was also hampered by shortages of money and skilled labour. The original decorations of the vaults and the walls were not restored. But his whitewash was perhaps to be preferred over botched attempts at reproducing old paintwork.A tour of the city begins in the eastern section at the Yesil Turbe (Green Mausoleum) Set in a garden and distinguished by its exterior paneling of tiles, the mausoleum holds the tiled cenotaph of Sultan Mehmet I. Across the street, the Yesil Mosque of 1424 reflects the new Ottoman, as opposed to Seljuk, aesthetic. A medrese nearby completes the complex and is also home to the Ethnography Museum. Before exploring this area, stop for a glass of tea in one of the traditional tea houses. Going uphill, to the east, you pass by the Emir Sultan Mosque in its delightful setting, and after walking through a district of old houses you reach the Yildinm Bayezid Mosque (1391).
Now make your way to Cumhuriyet Square (known locally as Heykel) and stroll along Ataturk Avenue to Kora Park where outdoor cafes are set among flowers and fountains. At the back of the park, a long building, the Koza Han (1490). houses the silk cocoon trade. From here you proceed to the covered bazaar area, with its narrow streets, caravanserais and bedesten. On the other side of Koza Park stands one of Bursa's oldest religious buildings, the Orhan Gazi Mosque, built in 1339. Nearby is the large Ulu Mosque, constructed in the Seljuk style. A finely carved walnut mimber (speaker's platform) and impressive calligraphic panels decorate the mosque. The Şadirvan (ablutionary fountain) lies uncharacteristically within the mosque itself under the ceiling of twenty domes.
The Silk Road, which connected Asia and Europe, is an outcome of this culture. The legendary road created a lively commercial and cultural development at its stopping points. Bursa, once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, became an important sericulture center on the Silk Road during the fourteenth century and preserved its importance until mid twentieth century. During the nineteenth century, Ottomans started to provide raw silk for the silk weaving industry in Europe. The demand for semi-finished products urged the import of technology from Europe, resulting in the establishment of many steam-powered silk factories in Bursa. In the early years of the Turkish Republic, the weaving sector in the city was revived. With this new impetus, new units were added to steam-powered silk factories of the nineteenth century. The sericulture activities in the city came to an end about 1980 with the import of cheaper silk from the Far East. There are eleven redundant silk factories within the historic city of Bursa. These factories are under the risk of total extinction due to neglect or modifications. The aim of this study is to explore the possibilities for the preservation of the factories. The surviving structures have been surveyed and proposals have been developed to define the methodological framework for the conservation of the industrial heritage related to sericulture in Bursa.
Walking west from the Ulu Mosque you arrive at Hisar. an old and picturesque quarter of Bursa. In the park that overlooks the valley are the mausoleums of Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, and his son Orhan Gazi, who commanded the army that conquered Bursa. The cafes of Tophane offer a good place to stop for refreshment.
At the Yildiz Park Tea Gardens in the Muradiye quarter, you get a superb view of the Muradiye Complex. The compound, in a tranquil park-like setting, contains the Mosque of Sultan Murat II (1426) built in the style of the Yesil Mosque and the tombs of Murat II, Şehzade Cem and Şehzade Mustafa. These contain some of the loveliest decoration and tile work. The nearby Ottoman House Museum is in a restored 17th century dwelling that provides an interesting glimpse into the lives of wealthy Ottomans.
Other places of interest in Bursa include the Culture Park with the Bursa Archaeological Museum, TOFAS Museum of Anatolian Cars which has been opened recently, the Atatiirk Museum on the road to Cekirge and the City Museum.
The western suburb of Cekirge has been known since Roman times for its warm springs rich in minerals. Many modern hotels have thermal bath facilities or, you can also visit the old hamams. Yeni Kaplica (New Spring) was built in 1552 by Rustem Pasa, the Grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent. The Eski Kaplica (Old Spring), built on the site of the original Byzantine baths, is the oldest bath. The Karamustafa Pasa baths are reputed to have the best hot mineral waters in the area. Buildings of interest in Cekirge include the Mosque and Mausoleum of Murat I and the tomb of Suleyman Celebi, a religious poet. The monument to Karagöz commemorates the character whose humorous antics are immortalized in Turkish Shadow Puppet Theater.
Thirty-six kilometers from Bursa is Uludag, the largest center for winter sports in Turkey and offers a variety of activities, accommodation and entertainment. The slopes are easily reached by car or cable car (teleferik). December to May is the best time for skiing, although the area, Uludag National Park, is well worth a visit at any time of the year for the lovely views and wonderful fresh air.
A seaside resort town 25 km from Bursa, Mudanya's fine fish restaurants and nightclubs are popular with the residents of Bursa. The Armistice Museum is also worth a visit. Just 12 km from Mudanya, Zeytinbagi (Tirilye) exemplifies the architecture and layout of a typical Turkish town.
The Gulf of Gemlik 29 km from Bursa has wide sandy beaches, of which Kumla is the favorite.