Former Ottoman capital, Bursa is now a highly industrialized city with a population of almost 2,000,000 residents.
Presenting a much more traditional Islamic profile than Istanbul and the cities on the Mediterranean shores, it features imposing mosques and grand mausoleums hidden in its, otherwise chaotic, urban scenery.
A major gateway to nearby Mount Uludag, Turkey’s most popular ski resort, Bursa draws both local and foreign crowds.
Apart the fascinating religious sights, the city is also known for its delicious local cuisine, including famous Iskeder kebap, its fine silk textiles and the many hot springs and thermal baths.
Bursa’s metro system is not very popular with visitors as it mostly serves non-touristic areas. However, an efficient bus network covers most points of interest, while taxis are widely available throughout the city. Most popular attractions are situated in the city centre, so walking is also an option on a sunny day.
Things to see and do in Bursa
Featuring an ancient fort, the citadel of Bursa was first set up by the Bithynians a couple of centuries BC. Captured by the Romans, the Byzantines and the Ottomans respectively, the citadel’s fort had been reinforced and expanded by each conqueror through time. Today the visitor can admire three main gates: Kaplica (spa) Gate, Pinarbasi (spring) Gate and Zindan (dungeon) Gate. Next to Zindan Gate you will find a 15th-century tower and a well-preserved part of the walls. Leaving the fort, walk around the citadel’s scenic alleys to admire traditional houses and discover the tombs of the founders of Ottoman Empire.
Bursa’s Top Mosques
Erected in late 14th century, Ulu Camii, or the Great Mosque, is Bursa’s largest and most imposing mosque. Built in early Ottoman architecture, it features 20 domes and 2 minarets. The interior is beautifully decorated with wooden carvings and delicate inscriptions by famous calligraphers.
Dating back to 15th century, Yeli Camii, literary meaning the Green Mosque, is an excellent example of Bursa architectural style, featuring fascinating carvings on its marble gate. The upper floor used to host the sultan and his harem. Green tiles cover the interior of the mosque, giving it its name.
Although the original 14th-century building of Emir Camii was destroyed by an earthquake during the 18th century, the mosque was rebuilt in 19th century featuring that time’s popular rococo design. Opposite of the mosque you will find the mausoleum of Emir Sultan.
Bursa’s Top Bazaars and Caravanserais (Hans)
Shopping enthusiasts will love Bursa’s many bazaars and han-markets, some of which focus on a specific category of goods. Kapali Carsi is a 14th-century covered bazaar which houses all kinds of stores, from carpet to kitchenware to clothing. Nearby Aynali Carsi, which occupies a former hammam, mostly specializes in traditional items, including local shadow puppets. For fine local silk textiles visit Emir Han or Koza Han near Ulu Camii and Silk Han, which is Bursa’s largest han-market. A wide variety of jewellery stores is available in Yildirim Bayezid Bazaar.
Bursa’s Top Hot Springs and Baths
Turkey’s old tradition in hammams (communal baths) reaches a next level in Bursa, where the Turkish baths feature thermal water from the city’s many hot springs. Located in Hekirde, Old Hot Springs is the city’s oldest and largest hammam. Featuring a 16th-century marble pool, it offers different sections for male and female guests. Also situated in Hekirde, New Hot Springs hammam is actually not that new, since it was built by Rustem Pasha in 1552. Karamustafa Bath is a children-friendly hammam which offers a family pool, as well as a playground.