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Bursa is a large city in Turkey, located in northwestern Anatolia, within the Marmara Region. It is the fourth most populous city in Turkey and one of the most industrialized metropolitan centres in the country. The city is also the administrative centre of Bursa Province.
Bursa (Ottoman Turkish: بورسا) was the first major and second overall capital of the Ottoman State between 1335 and 1363. The city was referred to as Hüdavendigar (خداوندگار, from Persian “God’s gift“) during the Ottoman period, while a more recent nickname is Yeşil Bursa (“Green Bursa“) in reference to the parks and gardens located across its urban fabric, as well as to the vast and richly varied forests of the surrounding region. Mount Uludağ, the ancient Mysian Olympus, towers over it, and has a well-known ski resort. Bursa has rather orderly urban growth and borders a fertile plain. The mausoleums of the early Ottoman sultans are located in Bursa and the city’s main landmarks include numerous edifices built throughout the Ottoman period. Bursa also has thermal baths and several museums, including a museum of archaeology.
The shadow play characters Karagöz and Hacivat are based on historic personalities who lived and died in Bursa. The city is also known for Turkish dishes such as İskender kebap, its candied marron glacé chestnuts, Bursa peaches, and production of Turkish Delight. Bursa houses the Uludağ University, and its population can claim one of the highest overall levels of education in Turkey. The historic towns of İznik (Nicaea), Mudanya and Zeytinbağı are in its province.
The earliest known human settlement near Bursa’s current location was at Ilıpınar Höyüğü around 5200 BC. It was followed by the ancient Greek city of Cius, which Philip V of Macedon granted to Prusias I, the King of Bithynia, in 202 BC. Prusias rebuilt the city and renamed it Prusa (Ancient Greek: Προῦσα; sometimes rendered as Prussa). After 128 years of Bithynian rule, Nicomedes IV, the last King of Bithynia, bequeathed the entire kingdom to the Roman Empire in 74 BC. An early Roman Treasure was found in the vicinity of Bursa in the early 20th century. Composed of a woman’s silver toilet articles, it is now in the British Museum.
Bursa became the first major capital city of the early Ottoman Empire following its capture from the Byzantines in 1326. As a result, the city witnessed a considerable amount of urban growth throughout the 14th century. After conquering Edirne (Adrianople) in East Thrace, the Ottomans turned it into the new capital city in 1363, but Bursa retained its spiritual and commercial importance in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman sultan Bayezid I built the Bayezid Külliyesi (Bayezid I theological complex) in Bursa between 1390 and 1395 and the Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) between 1396 and 1400. After Bayezid was defeated in the Battle of Ankara by the forces Timur in 1402, the latter’s grandson, Muhammad Sultan Mirza, had the city pillaged and burned. Despite this, Bursa remained to be the most important administrative and commercial centre in the empire until Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453. The population of Bursa was 45,000 in 1487.
During the Ottoman period, Bursa continued to be the source of most royal silk products. Aside from the local silk production, the city imported raw silk from Iran, and occasionally from China, and was the main production centre for the kaftans, pillows, embroidery and other silk products for the Ottoman palaces until the 17th century.
Following the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, Bursa became one of the industrial centres of the country. The economic development of the city was followed by population growth and Bursa became the 4th most populous city in Turkey.
The city has traditionally been a pole of attraction, and was a major centre for refugees from various ethnic backgrounds who immigrated to Anatolia from the Balkans during the loss of the Ottoman territories in Europe between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The most recent arrival of Balkan Turks took place in the 1940s until the 1990s, when the People’s Republic of Bulgaria expelled approximately 150,000 Bulgarian Turks to Turkey. About one-third of these 150,000 Bulgarian Turkish refugees eventually settled in Bursa.
Bursa is settled on the northwestern slopes of Mount Uludağ in the southern Marmara Region. It is the capital city of Bursa Province bordered by the Sea of Marmara and Yalova to the north; Kocaeli and Sakarya to the northeast; Bilecik to the east; and Kütahya and Balıkesir to the south.
Bursa has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa) under the Köppen classification, and dry-hot summer temperate climate (Csa) Trewartha classification. The city has hot, dry summers that last from June until September. Winters are cold and damp, also containing the most rainfall. There can be snow on the ground which will last for a week or two.
Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque)
Ulu Cami is the largest mosque in Bursa and a landmark of early Ottoman architecture, which incorporated many elements from Seljuk architecture. Ordered by Sultan Bayezid I, the mosque was designed and built by architect Ali Neccar in 1396–1400. It is a large and rectangular building, with a total of twenty domes that are arranged in four rows of five, and are supported by 12 columns. Supposedly the twenty domes were built instead of the twenty separate mosques which Sultan Bayezid I had promised for winning the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396. The mosque has two minarets.
Inside the mosque there are 192 monumental wall inscriptions written by the famous calligraphers of that period. There is also a fountain (şadırvan) where worshipers can perform ritual ablutions before prayer; the dome over the şadırvan is capped by a skylight which creates a soft, serene light below; thus playing an important role in the illumination of the large building.
The horizontally spacious and dimly lit interior is designed to feel peaceful and contemplative. The subdivisions of space formed by multiple domes and pillars create a sense of privacy and even intimacy. This atmosphere contrasts with the later Ottoman mosques (see for example the works of Suleiman the Magnificent‘s chief architect Mimar Sinan.) The mosques that were built after the conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and influenced by the design of the 6th century Byzantine basilica of Hagia Sophia, had increasingly elevated and large central domes, which create a vertical emphasis that is intended to be more overwhelming; in order to convey the divine power of Allah, the majesty of the Ottoman Sultan, and the governmental authority of the Ottoman State.
Places of interest
A brief list of places of interest in and around Bursa is presented below. For a longer list, see places of interest in Bursa.
Mosques and külliye complexes
- Bursa Grand Mosque and külliye
- Yeşil Mosque and külliye
- Bayezid I Mosque and külliye
- Muradiye Mosque and külliye
- Emir Sultan Mosque and külliye
- Orhan Gazi Mosque and külliye
- Hüdavendigar Mosque and külliye
- Koca Sinan Paşa Mosque and külliye
- İshak Paşa Mosque and külliye
- Karacabey Grand Mosque
- Karabaş-i Veli Cultural Centre
Bazaars and caravanserais
- Yıldırım Bazaar
- Koza Han
- Pirinç Han
Other historic monuments
- Bursa Castle
- Irgandı Bridge
- İnkaya Sycamore, very big and impressive 600-year-old tree (Platanus Orientalis)
- Bursa Archaeological Museum
- Bursa Atatürk Museum,
- Bursa City Museum,
- Bursa Energy Museum
- Bursa Forestry Museum
- Bursa Karagöz Museum
- Bursa Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art
- Bursa Turkish Architecture Museum
- İznik Museum
- Mudanya Armistice House
- Museum of Ottoman House
- Tofaş Museum of Cars and Anatolian Carriages
Parks and gardens
- Uludağ National Park
- Bursa Zoo and Botanical Garden
Hot springs and thermal baths
- Keramet hot spring
- Çekirge hot spring
- Armutlu hot spring
- Oylat hot spring
- Gemlik hot spring
- Çelik Palas thermal bath
- Armutlu beach
- Kumla beach
- Kurşunlu beach
- Orhangazi beach
- Mudanya beach