Green and Pleasant Bursa
This delightful city lies in the north west of Turkey near to the Sea of Marmara. It is home to over 2.5 million inhabitants and its Turkey’s fourth largest city. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis often referred to as Yeşil Bursa, which means Green Bursa because of the multitude of lush city parks and gardens and vast forests in the surrounding area and it is one of the country’s leading tourist destinations. Moreover it is famous for its excellent ski facilities on Mount Uludağ, one of the highest mountains in the country and its rich thermal springs, which have attracted hordes of people since Roman times. The city has a rich cultural past and was the first ever Ottoman capital. The Ottoman legacy is blatantly apparent in the architecture of many of the surrounding towns and villages. capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Bursa nestles on the north western slopes of Mount Uludağ bordered by the Sea of Marmara and the towns of Yalova, Kocaeli, Bilecik Kutahya, Balikesir and Sakarya. The nearest international airports can be found in Izmir, Ankara and Istanbul and each of these connects with domestic flights to Bursa’s Yenişehir Airport. There are no rail links with Bursa so the only other way to get there is by car or by bus from Istanbul, which takes 3 hours or Ankara and Izmir. The ferry is another novel way to reach this city with boats running to nearby Yalova and Guzelyali, which only takes 75 minutes. Once in the city there is a metro and plenty of local buses and dolmuses.
A Dip Back in Time
The earliest civilization in this area can be traced back to Philip V of Macedonia who gave the site known as Cius to the Bithynian King Prusias I because of his strategic role in the fight against Pergamum in 202 BC. Prusius decided to call the city after himself and it was known as Prusa. The city grew in prosperity because of its important location on the Silk Road and for this reason it became the capital of the Ottoman Empire in 1326. Most of the royal silk throughout the Ottoman era was sourced from Bursa, some of it was made locally and some imported from Iran and China. When Didymoteichon and Edirne were captured the capital was moved to Edirne and Bursa remained an administrative and cultural centre. The centre was also famous for its production of knives and carriages and you can still find some excellent hand made knives here today, whilst a thriving car industry has taken over from the carriage makers. Bursa has been rebuilt many times because like the majority of the country it lies on a geological fault line and has been the subject of many earthquakes, the last of which took place in 1905.
Sand, Spa and Ski
There are few places in the world, which can offer three popular forms of recreation and tourism and it really does seem like Bursa has it all. Most of the hotels in the town offer spa facilities making use of the areas rich thermal springs, which many claim have healing properties. There are also plenty of Turkish baths, which are great remedies for tired ailing bodies. Eski Kaplica, the Old Spring in the district of Çekirge is the oldest in the area, but the Karamustafa Pasa Baths are the most famous with the hottest mineral waters. Many people flock to the nearby spa town of Çekirge, where there is a thriving hotel industry catering for the needs of those in search of the water’s healing properties. Mount Uludag is 2543 m high and the home of the best Turkish ski resort also called Uludag, Uludag in the country. The ski area lies 36 km from the town and can be reached easily by car or by the local Teleferik or cable-car. The ski resort is set in a national park, which is beautiful all year round and a great place for hiking.There is also a good selection of accommodation in this area. Once you have finished with your day’s skiing you can retreat to Mudanya, a nearby seaside resort with some excellent fish restaurants and night-clubs or Zeytinbagi a traditional Turkish town on the coast with ferry and bus connections to Istanbul. A little further a field, Gemlik 27 km north of Bursa also offers a beautiful wide sandy beach.
The city offers a wide range of accommodation and entertainment with a great selection of restaurants, bars and cafes. Some of Turkey’s most famous dishes are the local produce of this astounding city including its soft, juicy peaches, candied chestnuts and Iskender kebab, which is made of slices of roasted lamb on top of diced pieces of bread pieces, topped with tomato sauce and served with yoghurt. The restaurant responsible for this tasty dish is still in existence and is called Kebapçi Iskender on Atatürk Caddesi 42. This is the only dish on the menu but there is another branch of this restaurant offering greater choice on the east side of Heykel.