As 2014 comes to a close, we can confidently say that it’s been a good year in Bursa. A lot of good things have happened this year that are helping to put Bursa on the map as a must-visit destination in Turkey.
For example, the newly reconstructed cable car from the city center to the 1600-meter plateau at Sarıalan opened in the spring, and the lines from Sarıalan to the Uludağ ski center are nearly complete. This makes traveling up the mountain quick and comfortable while offering breathtaking views of the valley.
As another example, aerial photography of Īznik Lake revealed the ruined foundation of a long-lost, 1600 year-old basilica. The church, believed to be named after the ancient St. Neophytos, was likely built in the 4th century. The Archaeological Institute of America listed this as one of the world’s top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2014.
These are two good examples, but what 2014 will most likely be remembered for in Bursa is that it is the year the city made the UNESCO World Heritage List, recognizing Bursa’s important cultural and historical heritage as the 14th-century birthplace of the Ottoman Empire. Consisting of seven sites scattered across the city plus the village of Cumalıkızık, the official UNESCO inscription is titled “Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire.” Most of the sites that comprise the listing relate to the founding sultans of the Ottoman Empire and highlight their contributions to the social, political, commercial, and religious institutions in Bursa and throughout the Empire.
The eight locations included in the UNESCO inscription are Cumalıkızık, the central bazaar area that encompasses the hans, Grand Mosque, and Orhan Gazi külliye (social/religious complex), the tomb of Orhan Gazi, two locations in the Hüdavendigar complex of Sultan Murad I, the Yılıdırm complex of Sultan Bayezid I, the Yeşil complex of Sultan Mehmed I, and the Muradiye complex of Sultan Murad II. These eight sites are among Bursa’s most interesting and beautiful historical gems, and they are definitely must-see locations when you visit Bursa.
I recently ran across Bursa’s UNESCO nomination video on YouTube, which explains in dramatic fashion the importance of these sites and describes Bursa’s value as a World Heritage Site. I recommend this short, 6-minute video, which you can view here.
So, congratulations to Bursa for a banner year. What will 2015 bring? It’s hard to top such an accomplishment as UNESCO recognition, but I’m sure that Bursa will find a way to build upon this foundation of success in the same way it has many times in the last 20 centuries.