The Sea of Marmara and the North Aegean: Places to Explore

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Bursa

An important center since early Ottoman times, Bursa is today one of Turkey's more prosperous cities (due to its large automobile and textile industries) and is also a pleasing mix of bustling modernity, old stone buildings, mosques, thermal spas, and wealthy suburbs with vintage wood-frame Ottoman villas. Residents proudly call their city Yeşil Bursa (Green Bursa)—for the green İznik tiles decorating some of its most famous monuments, and also for its parks and gardens and the national forest surrounding nearby Uludağ, Turkey's most popular ski mountain.

Bursa became the first capital of the nascent Ottoman Empire after the city was captured in 1326 by Orhan Gazi, and the first five sultans of the Ottoman Empire lived here until Mehmet the Conqueror took Istanbul and moved the capital there. Each of the sultans built his own complex on five different hilltops, and each included a mosque, a medrese (theological school), a hammam, a kitchen house, kervansaray, and tombs. It was in Bursa that Ottoman architecture blossomed, and where the foundations were laid for the more elaborate works to be found in the later capitals, Edirne and Istanbul. More than 125 mosques here are on the list of historical sites kept by the Turkish Historical Monuments Commission, and their minarets make for a grand skyline.

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