Standing alongside Turkey's 'Great Mountain' (Mount Uludag), the city of Bursa may offer a rather modern appearance, but was actually the 14th-century capital of the historic Ottoman Empire. Therefore, for many locals, Bursa really does serve as the origin of Turkish culture and remains a city with an extremely important past, which dates back more than 2,200 years.
For the top sightseeing in Bursa, tourists will soon discover that the Cekirge neighbourhood is where many of the best historical attractions are to be found, and is known for its famous spas and mineral waters. The Hamams (Turkish Baths) of Bursa are also recommended, along with cable car rides to the top of Mount Uludag, and a visit to the tea gardens of the Culture Park (Kultur Park). For a taste of the city's rich Turkish history, the 15th-century Muradiye Complex (Muradiye Külliye) mosque is a must, as are the famed Tombs of Sultan Osman, founder of Ottoman Empire and his son, Sultan Orhan, conqueror of Bursa city, which stand next to the Camal Nadir Caddesi.
The Green Tomb is best known in Bursa as the 'Yesil Turbesi' and remains one of the city's most notable landmarks, being known for its colourful tiles and octagonal architecture. Also very imposing is the Great Mosque (Ulu Camii), which overlooks the Ataturk Caddesi are comprises no less than 20 small domes. Other impressive mosques in Bursa include both the Emir Sultan Camii and the Orhan Camii, the latter of which dates back to just before the middle of the 14th century and stands opposite the Municipal Building.
A number of interesting museums await tourists and impart all kinds of information, often focusing on the days of Turkey's Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The Ataturk Museum (Ataturk Muzesi) celebrates the life of Turkey's official founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, while the Bursa City Museum is also popular and a good place to learn about the tradition of hand-weaving Turkish rugs and carpets. Nearby land off the Republic Square, the Bursa Art Gallery is one to look out for, and in fact all of these mentioned here are completely free to visit, with no admission charges whatsoever.
Bursa Tourist Attractions
Cable Car Rides
For something quite different to the historical attractions of Bursa, the cable car rides (telerifik) up Mount Uludag really are not to be missed, whatever the time of the year. In the height of the summer season, the mountain's cable cars transport tourists away from the heat of the city and into the cooler mountain air, where countless scenic picnic spots await. Those riding on the cable cars of Mount Uludag can stop off part way for horse riding, or journey to the very top, to the gift shops, eateries and panoramic views. The cable car ride to the summit of Mount Uludag lasts around 30 minutes, during which time you can expect to enjoy some very impressive Turkish scenery, so do bring your camera along for the ride.
Open hours: daily, April to September - 08:00 to 22:00; October to March - 10:00 to 17:00; weather dependent
Uludağ is the first ski center in Turkey. Ski Centre is composed of two seperate parts. It has a 1st and 2nd Development Zone. There are 16 hotels up and running in the Ist Zone where the investments have exactly been completed. In the 2nd Zone where it had been declared as a "Tourism Centre" in 1986 has a 3300 bed capacity, a parcel of land for 11 hotels has been arranged and allocated to the Investors. In total 27 accommodation facilities exist and a 3000 bed capacity. In addition to the hotels, shopping and entertainment centres, a health clinic also serves in Uludağ Ski Centre. In Uludağ Ski Centre there are Ski Rooms for hire, skiing kits for sale and ski trainers available for ski courses. Also, it is the right place for amateur climbers and trekkers in summers. There are 800 different kinds of flora also existing there .
Cekirge is an especially appealing area of Bursa and known for its historic character and innumerable period attractions. This westerly suburb is famous for its spas and mineral-rich waters, which naturally spring from around Mount Uludag. Fresh mineral water from Cekirge is considered so precious that it is actually piped to different parts of the city.
Tombs of Osman and Orhan
For many a tourist, the elaborately decorated Tombs of Osman and Orhan one of the reasons to pay a visit to Bursa, offering a real insight into the past. Overlooking the Camal Nadir Caddesi, the Tombs of Osman and Orhan are extremely historic and were once fully enclosed by imposing stone ramparts, sections of which still remain. To reach these important attractions, take a stroll along the Orhan Gazi Caddesi and to the Hias (fortress), where a small and somewhat elevated park is home to the tombs of the actual founders of the Ottoman Empire. Although the original structures suffered considerable damaged during the mid-19th century earthquake, the tombs were soon rebuilt, in an authentic Ottoman / Baroque style. Worth noting, before you are actually permitted to enter the precious tombs, you will first be asked to remove your shoes.
Open hours: daily - dawn to dusk
Admission: free, donations accepted
The expansive Kultur Park was completely re-landscaped as recently as 2006 and is really now beginning to mature, with attractions including tea gardens, play areas for children and many secluded benches, which are often strategically positioned next to the pond and close to the cafes. Rowing boats are available for hire on the pond, while the Bursa Archaeology Museum is always popular and is filled with local treasures.
Open hours: daily - dawn to dusk
Sightseers should look out for the Hudavendigar Cami (Royal Mosque), which is one of the most impressive structures in this part of the city.
Standing alongside a shady public park, the Muradiye Complex really does offer a very peaceful spot within the busy city of Bursa. This magnificent mosque was built during the early part of the 15th century and features many beautifully painted walls and tiled attractions. Just behind the mosque itself are a total of 12 tombs, which include the actual tombs of none other than the Sultan Murat II, the sovereign of the entire Ottoman Empire between 1421 and 1451. The Muradiye Mosque is an important part of this complex and is known to have been completed almost 600 years ago.
Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque)
Ulu Cami is the largest mosque in Bursa and a landmark of early Ottoman architecture, which carried many elements from the Seljuk architecture. Ordered by Sultan Bayezid I, the mosque was designed and built by architect Ali Neccar in 13961400. 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.