Bursa has been considered one of the most delightful places on earth. Its multitude of religious buildings and its native son Süleyman Çelebi distinguish it in religious terms.
It is renowned for its royal mosques, for its markets of spices and a covered bazaar where many local specialties may be found: cutlery, towels and, particularly in the Koza Han (the Cocoon Caravansary) the still-beautiful Bursa silk, and for it proximity to Uludağ, a winter ski resort and a summer hiking center. It was the hub of the Turkish silk trade in 16th century and the automative industry in the 20th. The city and its environs stretch along the northern foot of Uludağ about 90 km southeast of Istanbul. It is surrounded by orchards of peaches, chestnuts, quinces,olives and cherries, and by fields of tomatoes and onions. Its streams are fed by runoff from the mountain snows, and its highways are lined with factories.
Bursa was founded by King Prusias I of Bthynia around the end of the 3rd century BC, and then a minor city in the Eastern Roman Empire, overshadowed by the rivals, Nicaea and Nicomedia. Goths in the 3rd century, Arabs in the 8th and Persians in the 10th century batttled here. In the 11th century Selçuks, Crusaders and Byzantines fought over it until finally about 1326 the Ottoman Turks under Orhan Gazi took it and made it their capital. Tamerlane pillaged the city in 1402, and before it returned to Ottoman rule it was sacked by the Karaman tribe form Konya. Very little is left of the old city. Parts of the old wall of the citadel can be found, and perhaps some of the gates idetified. The foundations of the Eski Kaplıca (Old Baths) on the corner of Çekirge and Acemler Caddeleri may be Byzantine, the baths themselver date from the reign of Sultan Murat I (1359-1389). Marbles worked by Byzantine stonemasons -capitals and columns – were used in decoraing this building, as they were in Yenikaplica, the Muradiye Medresesi the tomb of Orhan Gazi, and the small mosque of Ömür Bey, among othersç
Most of the hotels in the Çekirge region of the city have their own thermal/mineral baths.
There is an old story of a ruler who left his beautiful young daughter near Bursa at one of the thermal springs, expecting her to die wasting disease.
When he returned he found her in radiant good health, thanks to the healing effects of the water. Justinian’s wife Theodora visited the springs in the 6th century bringing 4000 courtiers in her train; Süleyman the Magnificent came here to the Kükürtlü and Yeni Kaplıca baths to relieve his gout in the 16th century; and Atatürk was here in the early 20th. The popularity of the thermal baths was highest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when members of the European royal families were joined here by artists and writers like Pierre Loti. Such hotels as the Çelik Palas, with its sumptuous marble bath, reflect the style of that period.
More than one hundred mosques dot the city. Several unusual qualities distinguish the Hüdevandigar (Murat I) Mosque from other Bursa mosques. One of the oldest mosques of the city, built between 1366 and 1386, it was the first Ottoman mosque complex to include a number of buildings for community social services. It had a bath, apublic kitchen, a children’s school, plus a fountain, toilets, a convent for traveling dervishes, and a medrese. Rooms on the main floor were set aside as the dervish quarters, while on the next floor there were set aside as the dervish quarters, while on the next floor there were set aside as the dervish quarters, while on the next floor there were sixteen medrese cells. The combination of these two in a mosque is strange because the dervishes leaned towards a liberal interpretation of religious tenets while the students of religious law tended to be conservative. It has been suggested that the sultan put them together so he could keep an eye on both. Another anomaly in the building is a small, domed room direclty above the mihrap (prayer niche) that has a window that looks down onto the main central hall.
Ulu Cami, completed in 1399, is Bursa’s most impressive mosque from the outside because of its size. Inside, the twelve great columns supporting twenty domes are intended to create a sense of God’s omnipotence and grandeur. The building seems airt in spite of its size because of the central marble pool and ablution fountain and because of the central marble pool and ablution fountain and because of the light that comes in from above it and through the windows in the domes. The minber (pulpit) made of carved walnut, is one the finest of such work.
Three buildings make up the Yeşil Complex: Yeşil Cami, Yeşil Türbe, Yeşil Medrese(School). They were built by or for Sultan Mehmet I who died in 1421. The interiors of both the mosque and the mauseoleum are covered with beautiful green and darl blue tiles, some laced with gold. These tiles were the work of ceramists from Tabriz. The medrese is now the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, housing diplays of Ottoman weapons, calligraphy, a room decked out with a circumcision bed, and a number of the Karagöz puppets. The proportions and the simplicity of these buildings make them outstanding Ottoman buildings.
The Mosque of Yıldırım Bayezit is one of the spurs of the mountain, east of the Gökdere valley. It is a Bursa-type mosque; ceramic tiles which decorate the exterior mihrap have a thunderbolt design; smilar designs have been carved on the interior arches. The design is apporpriate because yıldırım means thunderbolt in Turkish. Yıldırım Bayezit got his nickname from the sepped with which he was able to move his armies around. He was the father of Mehmet I and the man whom Tamerlane deated and captured in the battle for Ankara in 1402.
Bursa was the home of Süleyman Çelebi, the author of the most famous of all Turkish poems, the Mevlidi Şerif. He wrote it in 1409 as an inspired counter to a certain religious leader who asserted that Muhammad deserved no more regard than any other prophet. He and his family lived in Bursa and he may have been an advisor at the court of Sultan Bayezit I. He became the chief imam (Muslim priest) of Ulu Cami about the time that Tamerlane captured Bayezit in 1402 in Ankara. He died and was buried at the mosque in 1421.
Bursa is supposed to have been the home of the Ottoman Empire’s beloved wits, Karagöz and Hacivat, who appear as puppets in the shadow plays each night during Ramazan and at circumcision parties. The puppets are made of camel skin; their colors show through on the screen behind whic they act. Hacivat played the role of the educated, wordly-wise, self-righteous ooportunist; Karagöz was the ordinary, unpretentious man, always able to turn a difficult situation to his benefit. The two capitalized on human weaknesses to fuel their ridicule. Like two capitalized on human weaknesses to fuel their ridicule. Like the commedia dell’arte in Europe theater. While this shadow play is rekated to smilar plays in the Far East, the popular version of the Turkish origin is that a 13th century mason, Hacivat, and a blacksmith, Karagöz, were working on a mosque for Sultan Orhan in Bursa. But they were such clowns that they interfered with the work and at last the Sultan executed them. Once they were gone the Sultan regretted his hasty decision, so his sheykh, a man named Küşteri, reincarnated them in the puppets.