I visited Bursa, a smallish city on the western coast of Turkey. I had been there a number of years ago and remembered it as a dusty little city with not a whole lot of charm, so needless to say I haven’t been clamouring to get there before now. Oh, how things have changed. The first thing we noticed, was how wide the streets were and how orderly and clean the cityscape was. We live in the capital city of Ankara,which albeit modern, doesn’t seem to have as much orderliness to it. We parked right in the downtown area and began to explore. Our firststop was the Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque). A photographer friend of mine had extolled the virtues of this mosque, and yet I was still surprised about how beautiful it was inside. The walls were covered with calligraphy art and in the center was a well-lit fountain. It was breathtaking. I’ve visited a fair number of mosques, and I have to say this was one of the most beautiful. If you were only going to visit one mosque in Turkey, this would be my choice.
After taking our fill of photographs (where unfortunately no tripod was allowed), we wandered through the myriad of hans or markets. We visited the silk market or Koza Han, the cotton market, the gold market, vegetable market. I couldn’t believe how many markets there were. In some ways, it reminded me of the bazaars that Istanbul so famous for, but again, they seemed so much more orderly and well put-together. They weren’t crowded; no one was jumping out to sell me anything. It was quiet and extremely enjoyable to look around.
We also visited the Green Tomb, a beautiful octagonal tower covered in turquoise tiles, the Karagöz Museum (traditional puppets), and just had a great time wandering through the city, before heading back to our Thermal Hotel. The city is known for sitting on volcanic springs and people have come for centuries to enjoy the waters. Our hotel, like many in the area, had their own hamam (Turkish bath) and with the price of one night, you receive a free half hour in the bath. It was heavenly. Since it is late fall, and the weather has been cold and rainy, sitting in the steam and splashing yourself from marble basins, just has no parallel. We stopped in and had the famous Iskender Kebab, a perfect dish for a blustery day.
For a weekend getaway, this was a great way to settle my travel bug and get a little rejunenation time in as well. I can’t belived I waited so long to come back to this charming city. If you come to Turkey, or live here, don’t let Bursa wait. Go soon. It is fantastic.
Are there places you have put off going to, to find out that you should have gone earlier? Tell us about them, because we’ll put them much higher on our list!