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Chasing World Heritage: #168, part 1 (Bursa)

Before the Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453 and made the newly renamed Istanbul their capital, the seat of the Ottoman Empire for over a century was in Bursa, where a succession of sultans developed the city around several commercial and religious focal points.

Here is the perspective from my hotel window in Bursa, dominated by the Grand Mosque which anchors the most central of the inscribed areas in the city known as Orhan Ghazi Külliye (the word “külliye” translates as a “social complex” and usually denotes a neighborhood centered on a place of worship).
Bursa
The interior of the Grand Mosque is among the most variedly decorated of all that I have seen and quite unusually places the shadirvan for ritual ablutions inside the mosque proper.
Grand Mosque, Bursa
Grand Mosque, Bursa
Grand Mosque, Bursa
Grand Mosque, Bursa
This central neighborhood is also home to khans, the commercial quarters that essentially retained their purpose to our days.
Bursa
Bursa
Bursa
There is also Bursa’s Grand Bazaar in this külliye…
Bursa
… as well as an alley that is seemingly fully given over to kebab eateries.
Bursa
A little distance away on a high hill in Tophane Park stands the mausoleum of Orhan Gazi, the first Ottoman sultan.
Osman Gazi Mausoleum, Bursa
Mausoleums are a big part of Bursa’s heritage, but this particular one is especially popular with visitors, vast majority of whom seemed to be women at the time that I stepped in.
Osman Gazi Mausoleum, Bursa
In contrast, another mausoleum of lesser lights in the same park was more or less empty of visitors.
Osman Gazi Mausoleum, Bursa
Yesil Külliye (“yesil” means “green”) is associated with another sultan, Mehmed. Its Green Mosque is also quite impressive.
Green Mosque, Bursa
Green Mosque, Bursa
Green Mosque, Bursa
Green Mosque, Bursa
Green Mosque, Bursa
Green Mosque, Bursa
Mehmed’s own mausoleum, also called Green (even though to my eyes it is more on the blue side), is another key point of interest, but the location a kilometer or so away from the center of town means that it attracts significantly smaller visitor footfall.
Green Mausoleum, Bursa
Green Mausoleum, Bursa
Green Mausoleum, Bursa
Yet further away from the city center lies Yildirim Külliye, whose mosque fairly uniquely sports a portico.
Yildirim Mosque, Bursa
Yildirim Mosque, Bursa
Yildirim Mosque, Bursa
Yildirim Mosque, Bursa
Next to the mosque is the mausoleum of sultan Bayezid I, who was responsible for developing this particular part of Bursa.
Yildirim Mausoleum, Bursa
Two other sultans, both named Murad, built up other inscribed külliye in Bursa – taking time to visit them as well felt a bit like overkill. I spent my remaining time just walking around getting a feel of the city, which is certainly big and bustling enough in its core but is nowhere near as touristy as Istanbul.

The Sultanate Gate anchors the remaining portion of the walls that guarded the original castle at the highest point of town.
Sultanate Gate, Bursa
Sultanate Gate, Bursa
The gate was extensively renovated in 2005, while the wall still exhibits the blend of masonry techniques used in its construction.
Bursa
Occasional colorful pockets or embellishments can be found on Bursa’s streets here or there.
Bursa
Bursa
Bursa
The Town Hall rather surprisingly is a half-timbered building, seemingly quite new.
Bursa
The wider-perspective version of the opening shot sort of suggests that there is little of note in Bursa beyond the key World Heritage sights.
Bursa
A couple of night shots from atop the walls.
Bursa
Bursa
And finally, the morning produce market in Yildirim Külliye. Local markets are always among the most delightful experiences in any locale.
Bursa
Bursa
Bursa
Bursa
Bursa
Bursa
Bursa
Bursa is only a couple of hours away from Istanbul by car. I was in town overnight from early afternoon until mid-morning the next day. Covering all World Heritage locations for those who choose to do so feels possible within a full day, but would probably require a day and a half: distances are not insurmountable on foot but also not trivial away from the central cluster of sights; taxis are inexpensive.