Modern and industrial, Bursa is Turkey's four largest city, and holds a long history whose origins can be traced back to 2th Century BC. Located in the Southern Marmara Region,it has been part of the Roman Empire, then the Byzantine and later the Ottoman, of which Bursa was the capital. Between 1326 and 1453, the city was one of the most important centres for silk and spices commerce in the world.
Nowadays, besides being a popular destination for thermal tourism, Bursa, is also renowed for MICE, cultural and religious tourism, with many museums, significant heritage - home to 3 sites which are in the UNESCO World Heritage List - and a major international conference centre, along wih a important winter sports and ski resort set in Mountain Uludağ.The city is also an important industrial centre, the heart of textile, energy and automotive sector in Turkey.
Bursa takes its name from Prusias I, the King of Bithynia, to whom Philip V of Macedon granted the estate,thus stablishing the city in 185 B.C. Part of the Roman Empire, later the Byzantine, Bursa soon became the first capital of the early Ottoman Empire, achieving a considerable urban growth throughout the 14th century.
Before the Turkish conquest, Bursa was already famous for its springs. Praetor Young Plinius, Bursa's first Roman governor with Emperor Trajan (2th century BC) mentioned the healing and relaxing effects of the waters in his letters, but it is not until the reign of Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I (527-565) when the great thermal baths were built in today's Çekirge district, in the west of Bursa, and the place turned into one of the most important spa and holiday retreat of the Byzantine period.Emperor Justinian himself visited the baths and palaces in Cekirge,together with her wife, Empress Theodora, who appreciated the waters as a source of beauty. Her name graces today modern Cekirge thermal springs.
In the Ottoman period, the Byzantine domed baths were repaired and enlarged, and new thermal facilities were built. Bursa was the resting place for the first six Ottomans sultan, who left here not only the baths they command to construct, but also their tombs, mosques and other monuments of significant cultural and religious value.
With its imposing domes, ornate marble fountains, and intricate tiles design, Bursa's Turkish baths retain the atmosphere of the former Byzantine and Ottoman times, and represent an outstanding example of the Eastern bathing tradition that has greatly influenced our modern concept of thermalism
Bursa's historic spas continue to operate today, and the healing qualities of their waters can still be enjoyed.The many different hot springs are contained in Turkish baths and hammans,with intricate tile designs and arching ceilings, traditionally segregated into men's and women's baths. The waters, rich in magnesium and crystal clear, are commonly known as "Silver Waters".
Mineral waters are available not only at the baths, but also in luxury spa hotels and hospital facilities. They are well-known for treating rheumatic diseases, neuralgia,stress disorders, sport injuries and others, as well as for rehabilitation.Waters over 40ºC -known as "female" waters- are used for bathing,while those below 40ºC-"Male" waters - are used for drinking.
Several modern facilities in Bursa are dedicated to high-tech medical treatments and biocosmetics.
Çekirge District is the main health resort of Bursa, where you can find historic facilities such as the Kara Mustafa Turkish Bath, first built in 1490 under the command of Kara Mustafa Pasha and whose springs flows at 57,6ºC; Yeni Kaplica,built in 1552 under the command of Rüstem Pasha; and Kaynarca Turkish Baths, built in 1680. Both of them have sulphurous waters running at nearly 80ºC.
Nearby, there are the Great and Small Sulfurous baths upon the Kükürtlü hot spring, with man and women section built in 138 and 1490 respectively.
Located nearly 30 kilometers south of Bursa's city center, there is a second geothermal area home to the Oylat Thermal Resort, with waters flowing at 40ºC
An open-air museum, Bursa bedazzles with the unique cultural richness from the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. It is precisley its role in the birth of he Ottoman Empire what granted Bursa its place in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014. Among the most renowed landmarks inscribed are the mausoleums of the first two Ottoman Sultans, Osman and Orhan, built in a former Byzantine monastery, the Koza Han, the great silk and spices market, the nearby beautiful village of Cumalıkızık, or the Green Mosque (Yeşil Camii), part of a greater complex, a külliye, which includes a madrasah, a soup kitchent, public baths and haman and the tombs of the founders.
Because of its many monuments and long history, Bursa is an important destination for religious tourism, with significant sights like Ulu Camii (The Great Mosque), Bursa's largest mosque, built at the end of the 14th Century. The city is home to many well-preserved ancient synagogues like Geruş Synagogue, the Ets Ahayim Synagogue and the Mayor Synagogue. Outside the capital, is the Iznik area (former Nicea), an important centre where, besides only a few chucrches from the old times have survived, pligrims continue to arrive, as this was the site where two historical church councils were convened here.
Located at the foothill of Mountain Uludağ, Bursa is also a popular tourist destination for nature lover. The ancient Mysian Olympus is today a national park full of waterfalls, lakes, plateuas and deep green forests, an ideal sport for summer outdoors activities like camping and trekking. The mountain is also an important centre for winter sports, including skiing.
The Koza Khan, Bursa's silk market, was built in the 14th century by Bayezid II to generate income for charities
The Hotel Çelik Palas Thermal Spa houses Bursa's biggest thermal pool, covering 3000m2. The spa includes also 2 Turkish baths, aromatherapy services, skin care and beauty parlor, massages rooms and several rest areas, along with an outdoor pool
Ulu Camii, the Great Mosque, is one of the oldest mosques of Turkish Islamic World. It was built in 1400 by Yıldırım Bayezid.
The spa of the Gönlüferah hotel is designed as a classic Turkish hammams, providing guests with health and comfort at the same time
The Kervanseray hotel thermal centre is built as a part of the historical building, where the traditional Byzantine and Turkish bath and hot spring culture has been preserved without amending the historical fabric of the facility
The Great and Small Sulfurous baths upon the Kükürtlü hot spring, with man and women section built in 1380 and 1490 respectively.
The Cikcik Hamman was first built around 1356-1366 as part of the Hüdavendigar külliye
The International Bursa Golden Karagöz Folk Dance Contest takes place anually, with almost 800 dances from 25 countries participating.