Baraner suggests: A stroll around the Great Mosque
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Baraner suggests: A stroll around the Great Mosque

If you wish to experience a fascinating synthesis of old and new, you should visit the “Grand Mosque” (Ulu Cami) of Bursa right in the centre of the city.

Around Bursa´s Grand Mosque sights and historic monuments all wait in a row: for instance the Koza Han, an old manufacture complex where visitors still can find wonderful silk textiles in various forms, and where they can relax in a picturesque and tranquil tea garden right in the inner yard of the building which resembles a caravanserai. This inner yard, adorned with centuries-old oriental maple trees will transport you into a long forgotten time.

People who like oriental jewels, hand-made carpets, spices and herbs will love to stroll through the Grand Bazaar of Bursa (Kapalı Çarşı). Since this lively bazaar is also used by the citizens of Bursa you will also enjoy its vibrant atmosphere, passing away the hours looking at carpets, heaps of spices or all the bigger and smaller antiques for sale.

Each time I visit Bursa I am fascinated by the place between the “ablution fountain” of the Grand Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, where I love to stand and look at the crowds of people passing by. What I like most is a typical mix of modern and rather traditionally-oriented Turkish citizens which for me is one of the leading aspects of Bursa´s society. You can see young women and girls in modern garb walking arm in arm with girlfriends wearing headscarf’s or even more conservative ways to cover themselves. In Bursa I witness the tolerance of beliefs and ideologies which still exists in Turkish society openly.

But I am also fascinated by the relaxed behaviour of the visitors of the Grand Mosque itself. Notwithstanding the wonderful calligraphies which adorn the walls and the pillars of the Grand Mosque, notwithstanding the old age of the building which is more than half a century older than the famous mosques of Istanbul, visitors of the Grand Mosque of Bursa openly enjoy their stay in it. I always thought that the absence of a big, central dome which over-awes people in the big mosques of Istanbul, might be the reason for this different attitude, because the Grand Mosque of Bursa is a multi-domed mosque with rows of dozens of smaller domes that do not intimidate visitors as their bigger counterparts in Istanbul certainly do.

If you get tired by your stroll in and around the Grand Mosque of Bursa, you can relax in one of the vast tea gardens that stretch before the mosque complex. And if you do recover and find the strength to do this, you should take the short stroll up to the Citadel of Bursa (Kale) that does not only offer beautiful vistas but also a set of interesting historic monuments like the tombs of many Ottoman sultans.