Where to Visit in Bursa
Bursa is a city in northwestern Turkey and the administrative center of Bursa Province. The fourth-most populous city in Turkey and second-most populous in the Marmara Region, Bursa is one of the industrial centers of the country. Most of Turkey’s automotive production takes place in Bursa. As of 2019, the Metropolitan Province was home to 3,056,120 inhabitants, 2,161,990 of whom lived in the 3 city urban districts (Osmangazi, Yildirim and Nilufer) plus Gursu and Kestel, largely conurbated. Bursa was the first major and second overall capital of the Ottoman State between 1335 and 1363. The city was referred to as Hüdavendigar meaning “God’s Gift” in Ottoman Turkish, a name of Persian origin during the Ottoman period, while a more recent nickname is Yeşil Bursa (“Green Bursa“) in reference to the parks and gardens located across its urban fabric, as well as to the vast and richly varied forests of the surrounding region. Mount Uludağ, known in classical antiquity as the Mysian Olympus or alternatively Bithynian Olympus, towers over the city, and has a well-known ski resort. Bursa has rather orderly urban growth and borders a fertile plain. The mausoleums of the early Ottoman sultans are located in Bursa, and the city’s main landmarks include numerous edifices built throughout the Ottoman period. Bursa also has thermal baths, old Ottoman mansions, palaces, and several museums. The shadow play characters Karagöz and Hacivat are based on historic personalities who lived and died in Bursa in the 14th century.
Ulu Cami is the largest mosque in Bursa and a landmark of early Ottoman architecture, which incorporated many elements from Seljuk architecture. Ordered by Sultan Bayezid I, the mosque was designed and built by architect Ali Neccar in 1396–1400. It is a large and rectangular building, with a total of twenty domes that are arranged in four rows of five, and are supported by 12 columns. Supposedly the twenty domes were built instead of the twenty separate mosques which Sultan Bayezid I had promised for winning the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396. The mosque has two minarets. Inside the mosque there are 192 monumental wall inscriptions written by the famous calligraphers of that period. There is also a fountain (şadırvan) where worshipers can perform ritual ablutions before prayer; the dome over the şadırvan is capped by a skylight which creates a soft, serene light below; thus playing an important role in the illumination of the large building. The horizontally spacious and dimly lit interior is designed to feel peaceful and contemplative. The subdivisions of space formed by multiple domes and pillars create a sense of privacy and even intimacy. This atmosphere contrasts with the later Ottoman mosques (see for example the works of Suleiman the Magnificent’s chief architect Mimar Sinan.) The mosques that were built after the conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and influenced by the design of the 6th century Byzantine basilica of Hagia Sophia, had increasingly elevated and large central domes, which create a vertical emphasis that is intended to be more overwhelming; in order to convey the divine power of Allah, the majesty of the Ottoman Sultan, and the governmental authority of the Ottoman State.