Bursa and its historical urban texture full of cultural landmarks got involved in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List in 2014.
Bursa stands out as the best place for the ultimate Ottoman experience. The city has been considered an international trade center where diverse cultures of east and west met until the siege of Constantinople.
Today’s Bursa still preserves and represents the multicultural identity of the former trade capital.
Modern Bursa city was built piece by piece on top of the former Byzantine and Ottoman urbanizations. It still preserves its historical ambiance and cultural authenticity inherited from the Ottoman Empire.
A proposal was made to UNESCO for the city and historical landmarks of Bursa in 2000. A committee from ICOMOS was assigned to analyze the field. The committee made extensive research in the city of Bursa in the last quarter of 2013. The decision was made at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar.
The city of Bursa and Cumalikizik village were found eligible to rank among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2014. The World Heritage Committee inscribed it as “Bursa and Cumalikizik: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire” on the list.
The proposal focused on the sultan tombs and social complexes, Ottoman khans were the main trade and shopping centers of the city. Cumalikizik also took its place in the proposal because the village still preserves the unique ambiance of an Ottoman settlement with its multi-color old houses, stone pitchings, and narrow streets.
A Brief History of Bursa
Bursa was sieged 2 times by the first ruler of the Ottoman Empire: Osman Gazi. After the death of Osman Gazi, his successor, Orhan Gazi pursued the ambition the capturing this Byzantine settlement.
The city of Prusa was conquered by Orhan Gazi in June 1326 and become the first capital of the Ottoman Empire.The former Christian city evolved into a Muslim capital quickly. A great number of mosques, kulliyes, and khans arose throughout the city.
Soon after its conquest, a major assault was made by the Timur in 1402. There was severe damage throughout Bursa but the city overcome these challenging times pretty quickly.
The lands of Bursa are where one of the greatest empires of history was born. The city still bears its importance by being the first political, economical and cultural capital and the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire as a birthmark.
Bursa UNESCO World Heritage Sites
UNESCO agreed on considering Bursa’s Sultan Kulliyes, Khans area, and Cumalikizik among the world heritage sites. Those monuments still represent the social complexity of Ottoman culture and are occupied by locals and used for the same or similar purposes.
Cumalikizik Ottoman Village
The cozy village of Cumalikizik is located on the outskirts of Bursa city. The first foundation of the village is dated around the 14th century, at the beginning of the growth of the Ottoman Empire.
Cumalikizik has been considered a “Waqf Village”. The Waqf system is an economic and political cycle to manage certain royal institutions. The incomes of waqf settlements were being used to provide necessities of certain foundations such as kulliyes, caravanserais, khans, and tombs. All income provided from this village by taxes would be directly canalized to cover the expenses of the public organizations.
The traditional Ottoman houses of Cumalikizik are mostly built for big families with extensive communal areas. These homes are often called “Cumba Houses” because, on the second level, the windows extend out from the ground level.
The main reason for that is to provide extra space for the upper level. The ground levels of these houses must allow the streets to be wide enough for horse-drawn carriages. You may even see beveled corners on the ground level of these houses. Providing enough space for carriages on the narrow streets is the reason for that practice.
The ground level of these houses is mostly built with stone materials to strengthen the foundation of the building. The upper level would be built with wood materials, sometimes mixed with stone and soil mixtures.
They would generally build with a 2-storey plan scheme and sometimes include semi-open courtyards. On the ground level, the spaces were being used for errands such as a kitchen with tandoori, barn, storage, woodshed, guestroom, and servant’s room.
The main living areas would be located on the second floor. Today, 180 houses are still being used by villagers among nearly 270 cumba houses in the village.
Cumalikizik is a small village surrounded by every shade of green. The village still has residents living there for ages. The well-preserved settlement has a captivating and cozy ambiance.
You can capture the essence of the village while walking around stone-pitched narrow streets full of traditional houses. Cumalikizik is the main representative of a traditional Ottoman culture. The settlement still preserves its authentic identity and is a must-visit in Bursa.
The Graves of Ottoman Empire’s Founding Fathers: Osman Gazi and Orhan Gazi Tombs
Osman Gazi is the founder of the Ottoman Empire who gave to Dynasty its name. Orhan Gazi, the conqueror of the first capital of the empire, is the successor and son of Osman Gazi. The tombs of two major rulers of the dynasty are situated in Tophane Park, near the Bursa castle.
According to historians, there was a Christian monastery known as “St. Elias” at the same spot once. It was converted into a mausoleum during the Ottoman period and damaged by severe accidents from time to time. The tombs were built by Sultan Abdulaziz in the 19th century.
The tomb culture is also pretty common among Islamic dynasties such as the Seljuks, Mamluks, Umayyads, and Ottomans. These monuments are generally built to pay respects to the founders and their family members.
The tombs of Osman Gazi include the burials of his son Alaaddin; Asporça Hatun, the wife of Orhan Gazi; and 14 other dynasty members.
The octagonal plan, large windows covered with iron gratings on each facade, and a large dome shadowing the interior space are the main characteristics of Ottoman tombs. However, some can show different stylistic features depending on the time that they’re built.
The traditional-style tombs of Osman Gazi and Orhan Gazi were found as historical landmarks bu UNESCO. They were also inscribed on the World Heritage Sites List in 2014.
Thanks to its strategic location, Anatolia was considered a bridge between east and west. Being at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East advantageously places Anatolia at the heart of the main sea and overland trade routes, especially the Silk Road.
Bursa’s geographical position near the capital Istanbul created great advantages in terms of trading and marketing the goods produced in the city. Bursa was the leading production hub of textile during the Ottoman period, especially silk.
Even today, Bursa is considered the major trade and production center of Turkey. Many international companies established their production facilities in Bursa.
It would be convenient to say that the Khans of Bursa were the archaic version of shopping centers. These historical old bazaars in Bursa would be rented by foreign tradespeople to store and display their goods.
The materials that they’ve displayed could be produced in Bursa or imported from foreign countries. Khans of Bursa would act as a bridge between the products of the east and buyers of the west.
Today, some of these khans still preserve their identity and are being used as shopping centers, and some of them were transformed into social establishments such as cafes, restaurants, etc.
The most famous ones are Koza Han, Emirhan, Fidan Han and Kapan Han. Khans Area is carefully preserved by locals and government authorities as the main representative of the unique shopping culture of Ottomans.
The Social Complexes of Ottomans: Kulliyes of Sultans
Ottoman architecture has certain characteristics and social complexes known as “Kulliye” are one of them. These complexes are usually built by sultans, their wives or family members, and pashas.
These kulliyes generally consist of social buildings centered around a significant mosque. The social facilities of these complexes would be managed by the waqf system and they would be open to public use.
For example; the first social complex of the Bursa is the mosque complex of Orhan Gazi which includes a mosque, a khan, and a Turkish bath. Today, the khan, which is known as the Emir Khan, is still being used with the same purpose.
The Muradiye Complex in Bursa Turkey is also inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list. The complex also contains a mosque, a Turkish bath, a madrasah, an imaret, and multiple tombs. Yıldırım complex in Bursa was planned with a mosque, a madrasah, a darüşşifa (hospital building), and an imaret.
These complexes which were built by the royal family of Ottomans are perfect examples to discover the social life of a local of Bursa. Visit the Sultan Kulliyes to discover the way of living during the Ottoman period.
Every Shade of Green Altogether: The Green Mosque Bursa
It would be a pity not to mention this exquisite complex while sorting the most unique monuments of Bursa. This social complex was built by Celebi Mehmet.
It is not possible to make a whole sense of why the word “Turquoise” also means “Turkish Blue” without visiting the Green Kulliye. You can find every shade of green and blue mixed together here, not only inside the buildings but also on the outer walls of the Green Tomb Bursa.
The Green Mosque and Tomb Bursa get their name from the handmade glazed tiles of İznik surrounding the buildings. The calming energy of the color blue captivates you with a ranging hue from deeper shades to minty greens.
It is a well-known fact that the authentic atmosphere of the Green Mosque inspired the famous orientalist painter, Osman Hamdi Bey. It is possible to see some fragments from the Green Mosque in his famous paintings; “The Tortoise Trainer”, “In front of the Green Mosque” and “Mihrab”.
The admirable Green Kulliye of Bursa is also inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage Sites List in 2014.
The Great Mosque of Bursa
Since the Seljuks, Anatolia has a new concept of Islamic architecture called the “Great Mosque”. A great mosque was the major factor that shaped and marked the center of the city since the Seljuks and Ottomans.
The whole city center would shape around these magnificent mosques, even the business, and trade centers. Almost every city had a great mosque; the stunning structure ordained by Bayezid I, the Great Mosque of Bursa, is the most famous one among them.
The interior space of this enticing mosque represents the magnificence of the renowned Ottoman sultan. The captivating ambiance of the interior space harmoniously accepts the pureness spreading from the inner court.
The 20-domed Great Mosque of Bursa stands out as the main historical landmark of the city even today.
There is more to discover!
Bursa was occupied by the greatest civilizations of history: Byzantines and Ottomans. Today, it is a magnificent Turkish city with an endless number of surprises on every corner.
Life in Bursa is pretty comfortable and joyful, it always has been. There is always more to discover, more to experience. Book your flight, visit Bursa Homes’ office and find your dream home in this wonderful city to make your own history.