Heart Of The World: Bursa

If i say it’s a city where you can drink water from the palm of your hand, you will understand.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten how your hair got wet in the shade of the chenars, forgotten to touch the damp, centuries-old stones, forgotten how a mountain speaks to you in the candied chestnuts. Bursa is all and none of these. If you love it, it grabs hold of you like a fever and won’t let you go. If you don’t, it means Bursa doesn’t think much of you either.

Built already in the 1330’s, Orhan Mosque, hand in hand with its younger generation neighbor, the Ulucami (Great Mosque), defines the heart of the city, which spreads like a galaxy from east to west in the foothills of Mount Uludağ with its Hüdavendigâr, Muradiye, Yeşil (Green), Emirsultan and Yıldırım mosque complexes.

For this reason, Bursa is fraught with stirring memories of the first century and a half of Ottoman rule. As the tombs of Osman Ghazi and Orhan Ghazi gaze down on the city from Tophane hill, their sons and grandsons, also buried at Bursa - Murad I,  who was killed in battle, the ill-starred Bayezıt the Thunderbolt, the second founder Çelebi Mehmed and the father of the Conqueror, Murad II,are suddenly conjured up before our eyes. Meanwhile the fog begins to clear and another Bursa rises before you. The spiritual Bursa, steeped in in the mysteries of the saints entombed among its quarters, the Bursa of Emir Sultan, Musa Baba, Abdal Murad, Şeyh Akbıyık and Niyazi Misrî.  This is a Bursa attuned to the flutter of doves’ wings, the plash of fountains and touchy sound of the call to prayer. The Bursa of the small graveyards that lie hidden away in its wooden streets.

Bursa is a consummate Ottoman synthesis in which matter and spirit, life and death, body and soul, earth and sky meet. In the words of folk poet Aşık Çelebi, “Bursa is the heart of the world,” and he adds, “If Anatolia is the body of the people, Bursa is their soul.”
İskender kebab, chestnuts, Mount Uludağ… They are all mere pretexts. If you really want to hear this heart beat, go to Bursa.

Previously known as Prussa, the city became the capital of the Ottoman state in the spring of 1326 when it was just setting out on its historic venture. It was a city overshadowed by Iznik (Nicaea), former capital of the Seljuks and briefly of the Byzantines. But the Ottomans fell in love with it at first sight, and as the sultans decked it with architectural monuments, it became in turn the city that set the Ottoman state on its course.