Central Sites to Visit in Bursa
Orhan Gazi MosqueOrhan Gazi Mosque was built in 1336 and its foundations make it the second oldest mosque in Bursa. This earliest example of a T-shaped mosque was originally built as a hostel (zaviye) for wandering dervishes with eyvans constructed along the main prayer hall. Here there are painted camel leather props, used in Turkish National Shadow-Plays (Karagöz Puppets), representing the men who worked on building the mosque.
As the legend goes, the antics of the folklore figures Karagöz and his assistant Hacivat, caused so much disruption with their fellow workers Orhan had them both beheaded. Soon after and because he missed their comedic ways he repented his action and had them immortalised in the puppet art form that is today known as Karagoz.
Koza ParkWest of here and in the very heart of Bursa is Koza Park, where you can stroll through the flower gardens and fountains or sit at the many cafes. Usually busy during the day the plaza and walkways become deserted by 11pm and the fountain lights are switched off.
Grand or Ulu MosqueOn the far side of the park is the Grand Mosque or Ulu Camii built from proceeds taken from the Crusaders at Macedonian Nicopolis by Yıldırım Beyazit I and constructed between 1396 and 1399. Before the battle commenced he vowed if he were triumphant he would build twenty mosques to commemorate his victory. This mosque has 20 domes, supported by 12 freestanding columns, and a somewhat loose interpretation of his oath. Nevertheless it is the largest and most ambitious of Ottoman mosques in its time. There is a huge fountain (şadırvan) inside for worshipers to perform ritual ablutions before prayer and the dome over the fountain is capped by a skylight that illuminates the large building with soft light.
Emir Bey BazaarFrom the north porch there are stairs leading down to the Emir Bey Bazaar Hanı, two storeys of offices and shops that were once the dependency of the Orhan Gazi Mosque. There is a nice fountain here under the trees but unfortunately there is nowhere to sit and spend time admiring it.
Bursa's Covered Bazaar or KapalicarsiJust beyond here is the start of Bursa’s covered market (Kapalı Çarşı) that opens every day except Sunday from 9am to 8pm. The variety of galleries and shops here are a delight for those interested in retail therapy where off the peg clothing, silk goods, towels, bolts of material and furniture can be found along with all kinds of souvenirs.
The bedestenThe nearby bedesten is where jewellery and precious metals are sold and warehoused.
Koza HaniThe centrepiece of the market is the Silk Cocoon Hall (Koza Hanı) built in 1451 when Bursa was the last stop on the Silk Road from China, and is still filled with silk and brocade traders, along with a few jewellery shops. In the middle of the lower cobbled courtyard is the tiny mosque (mescit) suspended over its şadırvan (fountain) and a secondary courtyard on the east side. There are teahouses and seating available in both courtyards.
Nilüfer Koylu PasajThe central food market in the Nilüfer Koylu Pasaj (Passage) offers a wonderful array of fresh fruit; strawberries and cherries in spring, peaches and pears in summer, also nuts and dairy products and all of which the region is noted for. You will also find handmade lace and other local handicrafts at Hanamelsantlar Street (“the street of women’s handicrafts”) and flower stalls on İmaret Street which are both nearby. The market continues along the narrow pedestrian street of Ukul Street lined with shops selling household goods, shoes and clothing.
Ironmongers or Demirciler MarketThe traditional Ironmongers Market (Demirciler Çarşısı) where you find many stalls of blacksmiths and braziers who pose for photographers and expect a small payment for doing so. There is a small mosque just further on and easily missed and some cabinet maker workshops that lead to Fırın Sokak and here there are some of the finest houses in town and the end of which the Gök Dere bridge spans two streams that run through Bursa and form the eastern boundary for the centre.
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