Everything about Bursa Bursa is the fourth largest city in Turkey with a population of over 2.6 million and sits on the north-western lower slopes of Mount Uludag which towers 2500m above. The city overlooks the fertile plain of the Nilüfer Stream (Cayi) and its neighbourhoods house some of the finest Ottoman monuments to be found in the Balkans and the most interesting in Turkey. For centuries Bursa was the centre of silk and textile manufacture (the first silk cocoons were brought here by caravans using the Silk Road) and famous for its thermal baths which attracted the rich and elite to the city. These industries are now being replaced by car manufacturers, canneries and bottlers the latter of which process the rich harvests of the plain. A vast number of refugee workers, attracted by the factory job opportunities have settled here and along with the students of the Uludağ University this has helped to balance out what could otherwise be a rather straight and conservative community. Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and burial place for the first 6 sultans whose piety and devoutness shows in the abundance of religious monuments, mosques and tombs they had built at their command. It is recommended to spend at least one or two nights to enable you see everything and appreciate all it has to offer rather than the long day trips that the many Istanbul and other tour companies tout. It is a great city to walk around whether through the busy bazaars, parks in the central Hisar district or the old fashioned area of the Muradiye quarter. Bursa’s History Prusias I King of ancient Bithynia, founded the city in the early 2nd century BC renamed it Proussa after himself and it remained under Bithynian rule for a further 128 years until 74 BC when King Nicomedes IV and last Bithynian ruler bequeathed the entire kingdom to the Roman Empire. Eclipsed by nearby Nicomedia (modern Izmit) and Nicaea ( Iznik ) the city floundered until the Romans began building lavish baths and using the city’s natural thermal hot springs and made it the capital of their province Mysia. After Emperor Justinian’s introduction of the silkworm culture, Proussa flourished up until the 7th and 8th century Arab raids and with the power struggles between the Selçuks and Greeks this lead to its decline. The Byzantines managed to hold on to Proussa from 1204 to 1261. At the beginning of the 14th century a small band of nomadic Turks whose leader was Osman Gazi began a siege by setting up camp outside the walls and it was 10 years later the city finally surrendered to Osman’s son, Orhan and from that time Ottomans ceased to be a tribe of itinerant raiders. Orhan then fashioned himself as a Sultan, renamed the city to Bursa and minted coins to commemorate the acquisition of the capital. Bursa quickly grew with the expansion of the silk industry and many more monuments were built. After Orhan’s death in 1362, and although the Ottoman imperial capital was gradually moved to Edirne, Bursa’s place in history and the hearts of Ottomans, was guaranteed. For a further 100 years, new sultans continued to construct buildings and tombs and even after fires, earthquakes and war these have only slightly reduced the city’s magnificence. After the Republic of Turkey was established,Bursa became one of its main industrial centres. This attracted refugees from various ethnic backgrounds who had immigrated to Anatolia from the Balkans during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The most recent of these are the Balkan Turks who were evicted from the communist regime in Bulgaria who expelled around 150,000 to Turkey and one third of these settled in Bursa. Bursa Transportation Although Bursa's Yenisehir Airport is only 33km from the city centre most visitors fly to either Ataturk International Airport or Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Istanbul as there are few international flights that operating here. There are numerous daily bus and ferry services between the two cities. The otogar (bus station) is 10km north of town on the Yalova Road and buses take visitors to Heykel, the local name for Cumhuriyet Boulevard (Alanı), in the centre of the city and from here is a tourist office 200m away in Koza Park. The major boulevards run from east to west and because of their length their names change several times along the way. Bursa has a metro system ( Bursaray ), inner city public bus system and taxis are also available. Although many of the sights are grouped together you may want to consider public transport to reach attractions further out. The city buses are useful but you need to buy tickets for them at certain booths and its often easier to take a dolmus from one of the fixed points in the city, that pick and drop passengers at places clearly marked with a large “D” and have signs showing their destination. Places to Visit in Bursa Most of Bursa’s oldest monuments are just outside of Hisar in the city centre. Many of these places can be visited in a morning or afternoon and if time is short then the most spectacular can be seen in a few hours, albeit rushed, at the Koza Park and at Yeşil. Uludag Bursa The 2543m highUludag( Ulu Mountain ) or Great Mountain towering overBursais the renowned winter-sports and skiing centre inTurkeywith its far northern reaches dramatically dropping down into the city. Just 36km fromBursais easily accessible by road or cable car and also popular for summer activities such as trekking and camping. History In ancient times it was known asOlymposof Mysia and in mythology as the seat from which the gods watched the battle of Troy. It was also a refuge for monks and hermits during the early Christian times and these were replaced by Muslim dervishes after theOttomanconquest. Skiing in Uludag For skiing it is best to go earlier in the season that runs from December to March. The hotels have their own ski lift at 1800m level where you can rent skis, clothing and other equipment at booths in Oteller the name given to this area. Ski equipment is prohibited in the cable cars. Getting to Uludag The 30 passenger cable cars go up to the lower terminus at Sarialan station every half hour daily from 08:00 to 21:00 and the trip takes around 30 minutes with a short stop at Kadıyayla. The cars do not run when there are high winds. They become very busy mid-afternoon and at weekends there are usually hour long queues at both ends and at the top of Sarıalan the dolmus wait to take you to Oteller. To use the cable car take the dolmus from the corner of Ressam Sefik Bursali and Ataturk Streets marked “Teleferik” or alternatively take a dolmus all the way to Oteller. If you want to drive, take the same route as the dolmus on the paved road up from Orhangazi Caddesi in Bursa and the road quickly climbs up to the Karabelen National Park gate where staff sometimes charge a small entrance fee and give out information. As the last part of the road into Oteller is designed to stop drivers skidding and is made of very rough cobblestones you should allow at least one hour for the trip and chains must be attached to your wheels in bad weather conditions otherwise you will be prevented from entering the park. UludagHotels The park campsites, not the most pleasant, are usually full in summer and too cold to use in winter. There is not much difference between the 4 and 5 star resort hotels available with over 7500 beds on offer. Rates vary greatly between summer and the winter skiing season ranging from 40 Euros to over 200 Euros and many visitors are prepared to pay the higher prices. Parks and Picnic Areas The area is also a national park rich in flora and fauna and well worth a visit at any time of the year. Full of campsites and picnic grounds that become packed with Bursan’s during weekends and public holidays. The smell of meat redolent in the air from the many grill-houses and rent-a-barbeque establishments situated at Sarialan picnic grounds at 1635m. National Park The cable car (teleferik) will bring you here from the Teleferük borough of Bursa. There are a few kilometres of designated hiking trails in the national park area but the better ones are just outside to the east where a few hours of walking will lead you to some glacial lakes just below the highest summit. Between May and June are the best time to see wild flowers blooming and September and October when the mists are less dense. As it’s close to the Sea of Mamara moist sea air gets caught in the high ridges and violent storms and whiteouts can occur anytime of the year. Hiking Trails From the top of Oteller a track takes you to the abandoned Wolfram Mine (Volfram) and from behind the mine’s guardhouse is a path leading up to a wide watershed ridge just below the summit of Zirve at 2496m. Following the trail for one and a half hours to where it forks and going right will take you to the main peak at 2543m, although taking the left fork is more worthwhile for the views overlookingAynalıgöl(Mirror Lake). This is Uludağ’s first big lake, sheltered from the wind giving it a calm mirror-like surface which has campsites and is accessible by a side trail just half an hour from the junction. The second and most famous lakeKaragol(Black Lake) is 15 minutes southeast of Aynalıgöl set in a deep gorge and has dark water and ice floes but no camping facilities are here. The third largest lakeKilimligöl(Rug Lake), named after the brilliantly coloured flowers that carpet its surrounds and change into a myriad of patterns, sits on a plateau southeast of Karagöl with good high altitude camping on offer. There is alsoBuzlugol(Ice Lake) which is covered with ice for most of the year. On returning to Oteller and as long as the weather remains good you can walk on the ridge rather than backtracking to Volfram. Just below a ruined hut on Zirve is a faint track that soon disappears, head downhill across country and along a watershed to Cennetkaya. This small hill just above Oteller gets very busy with crowds and jeeps and sometimes if the weather is right you can catch a glimpse of the far off Sea of Marmara.