The Best Places to Visit in Bursa
Curious holidaymakers are always pleased with the range of places to visit in Bursa. Standing in a league of its own, Bursa has risen the ranks to become Turkey’s must-see destination. While western holiday package companies are yet to venture into the area, it makes a roaring trade with independent travellers and Middle-Eastern nationalities attracted by its strong cultural heritage.
Nicknamed “Green Bursa” because of many parks and gardens, Bursa sits at the foot of Uludag Mountain, one of Turkey’s top skiing spots. The year-round tourism destination is also leading the real estate market as more Turks and foreigners buy property to tap into its potential.
Aside from that, it has many claims to fame including the famous Iskender kebab, invented here in the late 19th century. During history, it was also a Silk Road trading post, and draws in admiration from history buffs as the Ottoman Empire’s first capital centre. Many historical places stem from this era and led Bursa to gain UNESCO World Heritage status. So, if you are planning a trip, what places should be on your list? Let us look at the attractions in the city centre and the larger province.
The Best Places to Visit in Bursa
1: Uludag: Year-Round Beauty
Such is Uludag’s importance, everyone should go there, and of the ones that do, most use the Uludag Gondola cable car ride to ascend the mountain. Stretching for 9 kilometres, it is Turkey’s longest and takes just 25 minutes. There are three stations of which skiers head to the last.
Even if you visit Bursa outside of Turkey’s skiing season, do not forgo a visit to Uludag because the mountain plateaux are just as stunning from Spring to Autumn. Aside from just admiring the views of the stunning landscape from 2345 metres high, summer activities include mountain biking, camping, quad biking, and trekking. While in winter, and standard skiing, visitors can go snowboarding, or head out on guided snow safari tours.
2: Ulu Cami – The Grand Mosque
As Bursa’s most famous mosque, people visit outside of prayer times to see the 15th century, stunning exterior and interior, Ottoman and Seljuk architecture. Famed for its twenty domes sitting in a 5 x 4 row, while there, look for calligraphy wall inscriptions dating from its construction. One photographed and much-admired structure is the large fountain and pool sitting under the central dome.
3: Koza Han Caravansary
Visit any former old Silk Road destination to find ancient caravansaries. Otherwise known as a merchant’s hotel, it was where travelling salesperson could sleep for the night, keep their goods safe and ensure their animals were looked after. In Bursa, one such building is the Kozahan, of which Koza translates to a cocoon, a reference to the silk cocoons that were sold here.
These days, shops still open for business so buy your souvenirs here and grab refreshments afterwards. Both the Ulu mosque and Koza Han sit near the downtown bazaar, a great place to people watch and get a sense of daily life.
4: Yesil Turbe: Bursa’s Green Tomb
In Turkish, Turbe means tomb but can also refer to a mausoleum. In Bursa, the 15th century Yesil Turbe, a respected landmark and monument belongs to the fifth Ottoman sultan, Mehmed the 1st. Built by his successor and son, it sits hand in hand with the opposite mosque of the same name.
Yesil means green in Turkish, a reference to green exterior tiles that makes the hexagon landmark distinguishable. Another important note is the blue, white, and yellow tiles come from Iznik, a respected area of Turkey known for their ceramic production.
5: Traditional Cumalikizik Village
Before 2014, Cumalikizik village was unheard of, but when UNESCO added it to its world heritage site list, many major travel publications featured it and put it into the spotlight. The criteria that bagged its inclusion is 270 old Ottoman houses made from wood and stone.
Preserving these types of ancient structures is of vital importance as modern housing continues to develop and change all the time. In 1969, remains of a Byzantine church were also discovered. While there, enjoy a traditional Turkish village breakfast.
6: Bursa Castle Walls and Osman Gazi Tomb
Called “hisar” in Turkish, this is the oldest city part, and even though just a small section remains, the ancient city walls are perhaps symbolic as they also sit near the tomb of Osman Gazi, the man who founded the Ottoman empire, otherwise the first royal sultan. Dating from when Bursa was called Prusias, in the first century BC, both the walls and tomb have undergone restoration over time, and are a must-see to understand Bursa’s throughout the centuries.
7: Irgandi Bridge – Unusual but Quaint
Even if you do not intend to buy anything, Irgandi bridge is a must see, because on top of the old stone bridge is quaint artisans’ shops. The 15th-century bridge is a beautiful sight as the yellow bazaar on top makes it a unique landmark found nowhere else in Turkey. The shops within it also make traditional crafts like painting and woodcarving.
8: Muradiye Complex
Also known as the complex of sultan Murad the 2nd, the 15thcentury Muradiye Complex contains 12 turbes and an old Turkish bath of the same name. Sitting in a quiet destination, it contained a madrasa, an Islamic place of education but that is now a medical clinic. One notable aspect, the calm, peaceful atmosphere, is a stark difference from a city’s hustle and bustle.
9: Bursa Zoo and Botanical Garden
Sitting in Soganli neighbourhood, get ready for a whirlwind adventure to see animals from all over the world. The zoo prides itself on being an educational, fun for children to learn about species from different continents including giraffes, zebras, lions, bears and other exotic creatures. To finish this family-friendly day out, also visit the surrounding botanical gardens.
10: Enjoy Beaches in Mudanya
If you arrive via the sea ferries from Istanbul, you will land in Mudanya, a delightful small town receiving much interest from foreign and Turkish house buyers. Sitting on the Gemlik Gulf, this popular holiday destination also holds historical importance because in 1922, Turkey, France, Britain, signed an armistice here after Turkey’s War of Independence. As well as enjoying the coastal atmosphere, the town’s many old Ottoman buildings with original architecture make for exciting exploration.
11: Hot Springs Galore
As if Bursa didn’t have enough to boast about, as a hot spring thermal destination, it earns even more fame. Natural hot springs feed some hotels like the Kervansary, otherwise, head to places like Cekirge. There six springs, all stem from one source. Kaynarca and Yeni have higher temperatures and contain sulphur that is said to have healing qualities for the skin, whereas Mustafa Kara and Eski have lower temperatures because they don’t contain sulphur.
12: Museums to Visit in Bursa
If you love museums, Bursa delivers in bucket loads and more. Popular ones include the Archaeology Section and Ataturk Museum. Ataturk was the Turkish republic’s founder and he stayed in the house, now museum, every time he visited. Check out the region’s long history in the City Museum and see the Karagoz museum. The idea for these two puppets depicted in Turkish folklore stemmed from Bursa. Time your visit well because most museums close on Mondays.
13: The Beautiful Saitabat Waterfall
Last, on places to visit in Bursa, is Saitabat waterfall sitting about 12 kilometres from the city centre. Taking its name from pigeons living nearby, the small but stunning natural landmark is where locals escape to during summer. While there enjoy cooked trout and the great outdoors.
Why Visit Uludag: As mentioned before, to visit Bursa and not see Uludag is unheard of, but in this article, we talk about why it is one of Turkey’s major skiing destination. From stunning mountain views, to what to see and do, it is easy to understand why it commands respect from all who visit.
Famous Architecture in Turkey: Bursa’s Ottoman landmarks are just one of many famous sites in Turkey, and in this article, we list more examples for you to visit and see. Including ancient caravansaries, houses, and places of worship, we look at the two architectural styles; Ottoman and Seljuk that dominate the history books.