The metropolis of Bursa in northwestern Turkey is a gold mine of historic and pure wonders, and one among my favourite low-key getaway locations in the nation. You might simply spend every week exploring town, inevitably coming house extra educated about Ottoman history and a pair kilograms heavier in case you eat an excessive amount of Iskender kebab.
Nestled on the base of Mount Uludağ, Bursa impresses guests with its verdant panorama and minaret-marked skyline. The historic heart of Bursa is sufficiently small to be walkable, although a tram service and buses can take you to farther-flung areas of town.
Bursa gives an unusually wide selection of high-quality Airbnbs, and I’ve solely had constructive experiences on the locations the place I’ve stayed. I like to recommend selecting a spot in a historic neighborhood, akin to Yahşibey, for a very inspiring keep.
Rediscover Ottoman glory
If you thought the Ottomans lived their first glory days in Istanbul, you’re fallacious. A visit to Bursa takes you again greater than 150 years earlier than the conquest of Istanbul, to the times of Osman Gazi, the founding father of the Ottoman state, and his son Orhan Gazi. Visiting their tombs for the primary time in Bursa, the primary capital of the Ottoman Empire, crammed me with a way of awe for the lengthy history of the Ottomans. Osman Gazi died in Bursa on Aug. 1, 1326 – 694 years in the past – and his tomb stays well-preserved to today.
Stepping into Ulu Cami, or the Grand Mosque, offers you an concept of the grandeur of the Ottoman reign in Bursa. Long earlier than Mimar Sinan was designing mosques throughout the empire, the Grand Mosque in Bursa was inspiring awe with its feats of structure and daring, decisive calligraphy. This mosque was commissioned by Sultan Bayezid I and accomplished in 1399. It has been repaired quite a few instances all through its lengthy history, together with after an earthquake collapsed its roof in 1855. The enormous mosque can maintain 5,000 worshippers, and 12 thick columns help the 20 domes of its roof.
Next door to the Grand Mosque is Koza Han, a historic heart of silk manufacturing and commerce, named after the silk worm’s cocoon – referred to as “koza” in Turkish. Sultan Bayezid II ordered the development of the caravanserai in 1490, and the construction opened to commerce the next yr. The caravanserai supplied lodging, storage and workplace house for retailers and artisans, notably via the 16th century. Today, you’ll be able to nonetheless purchase silk scarves and souvenirs at Koza Han, which was even visited by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in 2008.
Another mosque you’ll not need to miss in Bursa is the Green Mosque (or Yeşil Cami), named for its inexperienced and blue inside tiles. The mosque advanced, which additionally features a madrassa and bathtub, was commissioned in 1412 by Sultan Mehmed I (or Mehmed Çelebi), who was laid to relaxation in the Green Tomb following his dying in 1421.
To be sincere, my every day schedule on most journeys revolves round meals. My guiding questions are, how lengthy earlier than I can eat once more, and the way can I match in all of the specialties I would like to attempt whereas I’m right here? Bursa in my e-book classifies as a foodie metropolis, and I’m at all times hard-pressed to get my fill of my favourite flavors, partly as a result of their most well-known specialty fills me up for half a day.
Iskender kebab is on the high of my foodie to-do listing each time I go to Bursa and if I can match it in twice, I’m a contented traveler. This dish, invented in Bursa in the late 19th century by a person named Iskender Efendi, consists of thinly sliced döner kebab positioned on high of cubed pita bread and slathered with a wealthy tomato sauce and melted butter. A facet of yogurt serves as the right accompaniment.
The most well-known joint in town is Kebapçı Iskender in downtown Bursa close to Koza Han. Everyone ought to eat right here a minimum of as soon as, in half for the expertise itself of eating in the unique spot that has been serving up Iskender kebab since 1867. Expect to wait in your ft for a minimum of half an hour for a desk. There is at all times a line. Once you’re inside, you’ll be requested if you’d like one, one and a half or two parts. A waiter will come round with a aromatic, boiling pan of butter to douse your dish – you’ll be able to say “no,” however why would you? Do not anticipate to linger as soon as your meal is over. Your desk is required for the hungry of us ready in line.
If your Iskender craving can’t wait, head to Kebapçı Hüseyin. The caliber is on par and the expertise is comparable, however the wait is shorter.
The different, comparable meat specialty is pideli köfte. Instead of thinly shaved meat, the bread cubes in this dish are topped with Turkish meatballs. I as soon as had this for breakfast, since I used to be on a very tight meals schedule that go to. While it doesn’t examine to Iskender kebab, it’s a tasty, filling meal.
In my fervor for Bursa’s savory choices, I circumvented breakfast. However, you’d be mistaken in case you thought Bursa’s breakfast can’t stand by itself ft. For the very best breakfast in town, make a journey again in time with a go to to the historic Ottoman village of Cumalıkızık. Just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from town heart, this village appears frozen in time. Its cobblestone streets are lined with wood houses and artisans promoting their handiworks – which make for distinctive souvenirs and presents. It can also be the place you may get an genuine village breakfast, served to you on a “yer sofrası” (actually, a floor desk) as you recline on carpeted cushions.
If you need breakfast to-go – or simply have some room to stuff in a bit extra, in my case – hunt down tahinli pide. As the day progresses, your probabilities of discovering it dwindle, so make it a precedence in the morning. This recent, circular pastry crammed with candy tahini is, fairly frankly, a masterpiece. I can confidently say there isn’t any higher manner to eat tahini in Turkey.
There is a minimum of yet another culinary deal with you can’t miss in your journey to Bursa: candied chestnuts. Bursa is understood for producing the nation’s greatest chestnuts, and these sweetened delicacies have been crafted in Bursa for the reason that 1300s. You can even attempt the chocolate-covered model, which I desire.
Explore peaks and valleys on skis or foot
One of my favourite issues about Bursa is its year-round pure magnificence. Whether you go to in summer season or winter, Mount Uludağ gives a wealth of mountain climbing trails and locations to breathe in the mountain air. If you’re touring on foot and on a price range, you’ll be able to take a hike alongside the bottom of the mountain on one of many roads main up to larger elevations. Smaller hiker trails department off these roads and supply verdant nooks to discover.
To see the view from the highest of the mountain, take a scenic cable automobile trip from the Piremir neighborhood. In the summer season, the height offers a refreshing, cooler view of Bursa, excellent for a picnic or nature stroll. In the winter, Mount Uludağ gives a few of the greatest snowboarding in the Marmara area. Many winter vacationers resolve to spend their whole go to to Bursa snowboarding and staying at one of many luxurious accommodations close to the height.
Even in case you are not a skier, it’s value taking a visit up to the winter wonderland atop Mount Uludağ. Strap in your boots, take a trek via the countless drifts of snow close to the ski slopes and revel in a snowball struggle. Then, in case you are in the temper to deal with your self, cease by one of many accommodations for a therapeutic massage. I like to recommend Monte Baia Hotel, the place you’ll be able to mix various kinds of therapeutic massage to get the expertise you need, in a clear, tranquil setting with expert masseuses.
If you might have a automobile and are keen to journey a bit farther for a hike, head out to Sadağı Canyon close to Orhaneli, about 65 kilometers from Bursa metropolis heart. This canyon is the second largest in Bursa and is house to the Roman-era Kaya Bath.
To get in contact with nature with out leaving town, go to Soğanlı Botanik Parkı in the Soğanlı district, reachable by bus. This free botanical backyard is ideal for a household picnic or taking a motorcycle trip on a rented bicycle. Paved walkways take you beside a duck pond and thru themed gardens – together with Japanese, French and English gardens, in addition to a rose, topiary and rock backyard. Spring is the very best time to see the various types of timber and flowers in full bloom.
Enter animal kingdom
Bursa has lots to provide for animal-lovers, each in phrases of unique and endemic wildlife. The Bursa Zoo is without doubt one of the greatest zoos I’ve visited in Turkey, in phrases of affordability, dimension and caliber. The zoo is a superb place to spend the afternoon, particularly for kids. During our go to in February, lots of the animals – from baboons to capybaras – have been energetic and supplied loads of fascination.
Bursa can also be a key stopover for migratory birds. About 40 kilometers from Bursa metropolis heart is Lake Uluabat in Karacabey, visited by pelicans, storks, spoonbills, ibis, herons, terns, egrets and even the endangered pygmy cormorant at sure instances all year long. You can spot these many waterfowl species from the chicken heart and remark tower in Eskikaraağaç. The lake can also be house to 21 species of fish, together with pike, catfish, herring, carp and chub – a few of which could be discovered on the market in the lakeside villages. If you make the journey out to the lake, ensure to discover the historic streets of the traditional Greek village of Gölyazı in your manner again.
Shop on the Silk Road
Bursa has been producing silk for the reason that 500s beneath Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Still right this moment, town is without doubt one of the greatest locations to purchase textiles and homes the headquarters of Özdilek, one among Turkey’s high textile producers. Especially in case you are in want of towels, take a stroll via the streets behind Ulu Cami for a textile model of the Grand Bazaar.
Learn one thing new
If you might have further time and wish to study one thing new, take a look at the museums Bursa has to provide. Tofaş’s Bursa Museum of Anatolian Cars takes you on a short journey of the carriages and automobiles of Turkish history in the center of the nation’s automotive hub The Bursa City Museum additionally portrays the lives and professions of previous Bursa, although the exhibit placards are usually not translated into English. On one wet go to, I sought shelter in the Tayyare Culture Center close to Koza Han and found the wonders of “ebru” artwork from the artist himself. The constructing has rotating artwork galleries, so pop in to see what’s on show throughout your go to. If you’re a night time owl, you’ll be able to catch a efficiency of the whirling dervishes on the Culture Center of Karabaş-ı Veli.
Bursa is a dwelling museum, so ensure to cease and take a look at any fascinating mosques, historic buildings or museums you stroll by in your journey. I’ve discovered a lot of my favourite locations in Bursa just by wandering on foot and soliciting the recommendation of locals. You by no means know what you may discover!