Cekirge in Bursa
Cekirge (grasshopper in Turkish) attracts many visitors to its hot springs that flow out from the Uludag mountainside and into various hotels and bathhouses. Just a 20 minute walk from the Kültür Park along Çekirge Street, or by one of the many dolmus shuttling to and from the dolmus stand on Atatürk Street.The legend here tells of gout suffered by Suleyman the Magnificent being cured after he visited the baths and then ordered his grand vizier Rüstem Paşa to completely overhaul the Byzantine building. There are fragments of the mosaic floor paving and İznik tiles lining the walls. Two other facilities are here; the Kaynarca Baths, for women only which is unfortunately rather gloomy and unpleasant and the Karamustafa Baths that is for men only.
New Baths in CekirgeThe New Baths (Yeni Kaplıca) open daily from 06:00-22:00 are accessible by a steep driveway just beyond the Kültür Parkı and it dates from the mid 16th century, has a women’s section that is not as nearly as impressive as the men’s section.
Old Baths in CekirgeThe Old Baths (Eski Kaplıca) open daily 07:00-22:30 is at the far end of Cekirge Caddesi Street and are Bursa’s oldest baths and by far the better public bath for women. Byzantine rulers Justinian and Theodora made improvements on the spa and Murat I also renovated it in the late 14th century. Large shallow keyhole shaped pools dominate the hot rooms in both the men and women’s sections and the domes in each supported by 8 Byzantine columns. The very hot 45˚C water pours into the pools and the cold room and fountain in the middle offer cooling relief. After the pools and at the entrance hall of the men’s section you can relax on a chaise longue, taking refreshment or use the swimming pool of the hotel next door.
Hudavendigar Murat MosqueWest of the thermal centre on a small hill is Hüdavendigar (Birinci) Murat Mosque with its five-arched portico and alternating bands of brick and stone work. It resembles a church more than a mosque as the architect and builders were Christians under the orders of Murat I. They toiled here for 20 years because Murat was constantly away at war and unable to supervise their work. The building, unique in Islam, has a first floor medrese (religious school) above a highly modified T-form zaviye (hostel for dervishes) on the ground level. The upper floor wraps around the courtyard but unfortunately rarely open to the public.
Tomb of MuratMurat’s türbe (tomb) is just across the street from the mosque and his remains are almost complete with the exception of his entrails which were removed by embalmers prior to returning his body from Serbia in 1389. In June of that year during the Battle of Kosovo, and in the process of his greatest victory over Serbian king Lazarus, he was stabbed to death in his tent by Miloş Obiliç, a Serbian noble feigning desertion. Murat’s brother Beyazit (later known as Yıldırım) immediately killed his other brother Yakub and as sole commander annihilated the Christian armies. From these actions the Balkans remained under Ottoman control until well into the 20th century and the grisly act of bloodletting at Ottoman coronations was established.
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