Bursa, one of Turkey’s oldest cities. Bursa, which was an important city in the Byzantine period, gained even more importance in the Ottoman period. There are many historical places to visit in Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. In this article named Bursa Travel Blog, you can find information about things to do in Bursa.
History of Bursa
Bursa is one of Turkey’s largest city and the history of Bursa dates back to antiquity. Bursa, which gained importance over time, reached its peak in the Ottoman period.
In the 3rd century BC, King Philip V of Macedonia was fighting against Roman expansion. The city known as Cius during this period was given to an allied Kingdom of Bithynia. Prusius, King of Bithynia, reconstructed the city and named it Prusa.
The city of Prusa began to gain importance in the period when it was under the rule of the Bithynian Kingdom. It was still an important center in the region during the reign of Roman and Byzantine empires. The importance of Prusa reached its peak with its being the capital in the early period of the Ottoman Empire.
Bursa, the First Capital of Ottoman Empire
Until the establishment of the Ottoman principality, the Turks were dependent on the Central Asian architectural tradition. Turks who settled in Anatolia during the Seljuk Empire (aka Seljuk Turks) began to be influenced by local cultures. Thus, a hybrid architecture emerged during the Great Seljuk Empire and its successor, Seljuk Sultanate of Rum.
This architectural style existed in the early period of the Ottoman principality. However, after the Ottomans conquered Bursa, a change began. Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, carries the traces of the period when the Ottomans transformed from a principality to a state.
The change of Ottoman architecture continued in Edirne after Bursa. The peak period we call “Classical Ottoman Architecture” was reached after Istanbul became the capital.
Historical Places to Visit in Bursa
Those who come to Istanbul visit places built during the peak period of Ottoman architecture such as the Blue Mosque and Suleymaniye Mosque. If you are interested in Turkey’s history and architecture, you should also visit Bursa, where everything starts.
As the Ottoman Empire expanded, decoration masters were brought from Persia and Egypt, and the influence of the Middle East on the motifs increased. In Bursa, it is possible to observe the art of the pre-imperial period.
In this article, you can see the historical places to visit in Bursa under 10 headings. We have listed the top things to do when you visit Bursa, Turkey.
1. The Great Mosque
As I mentioned in the introduction, Ottomans followed the Central-Asian oriented Turkish architecture in their early period. The Great Mosque of Bursa is an Islamic building built in this style and has 20 small domes.
While early Turkish architecture built more than one dome, this tradition changed during the imperial period. After the Turks settled in Istanbul, they were influenced by the architecture of Hagia Sophia. For this reason, they put a giant central dome in their mosques, like in Hagia Sophia.
The Great Mosque was built by Bayezid I between 1396-1399. Bayezid was the third sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Bayezid I is known as “Thunderbolt” in Turkish history due to his speed and success in the battlefields.
His greatest misfortune is that he lived in the same period as Timur, who was considered one of the best military strategists in history. The defeat of Bayezid to Timur of Turkish-Mongolian origin caused the Ottomans to fall into a coma of 10 years. However, they still managed to recover and grow. (Thanks to Sultan Mehmed I)
The Great Mosque is one of the most popular historical places to visit in Bursa, Turkey.
2. The Green Mosque
The Green Mosque was built by Mehmed I who put an end to the period of turbulence after Ottoman State was defeated by Timur in Battle of Ankara. As Sultan Ahmed Mosque is also known as “Blue Mosque” because of the blue interior tile decorations, Green Mosque is named after the green interior tile decorations.
The tomb of Mehmed I who built the mosque is situated by the side of Green Mosque. Just like the mosque, this tomb is named after the harmony of these beautiful green tiles.
After a series of modifications performed in 19th century, the tomb was decorated with turquoise blue tiles. For this reason, “Why Green Tomb is blue?” is one of the frequently asked questions about historical places in Bursa.
3. Emir Sultan Mosque
Emir Sultan Mosque is very close to Green Mosque. This mosque was built by the daughter of Bayezid I in honor of his husband, Emir Sultan in 15th century.
Current state of the mosque is aesthetical and spectacular; however, it is not original. Emir Sultan Mosque was rebuilt completely during the reign of Selim III and architectural styles of Baroque and Rococo of that era were added.
If you happen to pass Bursa and tour around the center of the city in some way, you should definitely visit Kozahan that offers you a journey through time with its historic fabric.
You can experience the warm hospitability of Bursa with bright-red tea in Kozahan where local people of Bursa stop by frequently for tea breaks.
Kozahan is definitely one of the most important historical places to visit in Bursa, Turkey.
Hosting Osman I and Orhan, founding fathers of Ottoman Empire, at its center, Tophane is located at one of the commanding heights of the city. In the holy month of Ramadan, you can still hear the cannon shots and most of the people direct their attention to this place to break their fasts.
Tophane is also home to a historic clock tower. You can enjoy the panoramic view of Bursa under this clock tower built by Sultan Abdulaziz.
6. Uludag Mountain
Hosting worldwide known ski centers, Uludag Mountain is one of the iconic places of the city. However, ski centers are not the only reason why Uludag is considered to be an important place. Uudag is important because it also home to a natural life.
Being an important racetrack for nature lovers and trekkers with its chestnuts and unspoiled nature, Uludag is also a naturally favorite place to have a picnic for local people.
7. Cumalıkizik Village
Although it became famous because of local TV Series, Cumalikizik Village is worth seeing for those who haven’t watched the series. Coming into prominence in recent years, Cumalikizik village gains appreciation with its natural and historic structure.
Delicious ayran (local yoghurt drink) and pancakes are some of the tastes that we can recommend for those who want to visit Cumalikizik.
8. Suuctu Waterfall
Supplying water demand a part of Bursa, Suuctu Waterfall is 18 km away from Mustafa Kemal Pasha district. It attracts tourists with its 38 meters height and it is considered as an important natural beauty.
Suuctu Waterfall is an outstanding picnic area not only with its waterfall but also its woodland that changes color in all seasons.
9. Lake Uluabat
Located at the 30 kms west of Bursa, Lake Uluabat is a significant place for not only its natural beauty, but also it provides a natural habitat for various bird species. You can rent vessels to go for a sail in the lake.
Situated in the heart of the lake, Golyazi Village is an appealing place that you should visit to see different architectural constructions in detail if you go to see Lake Uluabat.
Located within the boundaries of district of Mudanya, Tirilye is situated in a significant place in terms of its location. Tirilye has been used as a settlement area since Ancient Age and it is a center of attraction with its olive trees and wooden buildings.
While you are walking by the streets of Tirilye, out of the blue, you can come across beautiful historic buildings.
Iskender Kebab in Bursa
One of the first things to do in Bursa is to taste the Iskender Kebab. You can visit Iskender Kebab Evi to be able to enjoy the best iskender kebab of Bursa.
Needless to say, Iskender is not the only local food to Bursa. Delicious candied chestnut is one the tastes that you can’t forget.
If you are looking for different tastes in Bursa, we can also recommend Cantik Kebab. Also, Pita Meatballs stands out as another delightful taste.
Best Places to Stay in Bursa?
Since Bursa is a touristic city, it has many nice hotels. We wanted to briefly list the best places to stay in Bursa.
1. Kitap Evi Hotel
Kitap Evi Hotel is one of the hotels that you can stay in Bursa. Located at the center of the city and close to Saltanat Kapisi (Sultanate Gate), this hotel catches on because of its central location. You have to make a reservation beforehand to stay at this hotel.
2. Divan Bursa Hotel
Divan Bursa Hotel is another significant hotel that you can stay in Bursa. Being 30 km away from the airport, this hotel also is also famous with its Ottoman cuisine.
Divan Bursa Hotel is one of the top picks because of its location where you can reach picnic areas, archeological museum and tea gardens. This hotel is located in Osmangazi district.
3. Hilton Bursa Hotel
Hilton Bursa Hotel stands out because it is close to bus terminal and various important places. As being one of the most luxurious hotels in Bursa, this hotel also shines out with its spa center.
Awarded with the green star because of its nature friendly policies, this hotel offers a decent accommodation in Bursa.
Historical Places to Visit in Bursa by Serhat Engul