Bursa – A World of Turquoise

Bursa, a center of trade, industry and tourism, is among Turkey’s most important cities. Taken by the Ottomans in 1324 by Orhan Gazi, it became their first capital city. The Ottoman sultans decorated the city with fine mosques, and with caravanserais and bazaars to serve the wealthy caravans from east and west which met in the city. The city has earned the Medal of Honour from the European Council for Its tolerant outlook, efforts at historic preservation, and protection of its natural environment.

The Çekirge district of Bursa boasts many hot springs feeding thermal baths. The many thermal resort hotels are popular for relaxation as well as for medicinal treatments with the mineral-rich, health-giving waters.

Not far from Bursa is Turkey’s largest ski resort. Uludağ offers a variety of entertainment amidst a beautiful snowcapped backdrop. The town of İznik (Nicaea) lies at the eastern tip of Lake İznik, to the south of İzmit. The city was founded in 316 BC by Antigonas, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, and then taken by another general, Lysimachus, who named the city “Nicaea” for his wife. Later the city fell to the Bithynian Kingdom and was bequeathed to Rome in 128 BC. After playing its role as an important Roman, and then later Byzantine city, it fell to the Seljuks in 1078 and passed on to the Ottomans in 1331. The Roman theatre was built by the Emperor Trajan. On the shore of Lake İznik stands the Roman Senate, where the first Ecumenical Council took place In 325. In the center of the town is the Church of Ayasofya (St. Sophia), used by other councils. One of the more important councils was in 745 over iconoclasm, the role of icons in worship. The “Baptisterium” has a cupola over the baptistery. The Ottomans converted this church into the Orhan Mosque.

In the 16th and 17th centuries İznik was the center of exquisite tile ware manufacturing which made an important decorative contribution to mosques and palaces throughout Turkey, A museum displays the finds of nearby excavations. Among the important buildings in town are the Yeşil Mosque and the Nilüfer Hatun Hospice.

The province of Bilecik lies southeast of İznik in the verdant and fertile Sakarya River Valley. In the old quarter of the city stands the mausoleum of Şeyh Edebali, who played an important role in the founding of the Ottoman Empire. Every September, a commemorative ceremony and a cultural festival are held here in his honor. The Orhan Gazi Mosque is near his tomb.

Set amidst the numerous willows that give Söğüt (Willow) its name, the town is well worth a detour. The immigrant Kayi Turks first settled here and the tomb of their leader Ertuğrul Gazi is in the town. In September, a commemorative ceremony is held in his honor. Other tourist attractions include the life-size busts of famous figures from Turkish history and the Ethnography Museum that traces the history of Turkey through Its displays.


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