About 45 kilometers southeast of Bursa’s city center, near the provincial border, lies the town of Īnegöl. With a population of around a quarter million people, Īnegöl has two current-day claims to fame: it is Turkey’s furniture manufacturing hub, and it is famous for its tasty variation of köfte, or Turkish meatballs.
Smaller and quieter than Bursa, Īnegöl can make for a nice day or half-day trip if you’re looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of Bursa’s center. Īnegöl’s historic yet modern town center is easy to navigate and reflects a typical way of life in western Anatolia. Mosques, parks, bazaars, shops, and restaurants line the town’s winding streets and alleys. Local women shop for fresh vegetables and other goods in the bazaars and groups of men gather on park benches under the shade of centuries-old plane trees. Shopkeepers drink tea on the street outside their shops while vendors sell ice cream and baked goods from their storefront windows. The town center is home to the City Museum (Kent Müzesi) and a mosque complex that dates back to the 1460s. Near the modern and centrally-located bus terminal stands the Īnegöl AVM, a large, contemporary open air shopping mall. And, of course, scattered about the town center are dozens of furniture workshops and köfte restaurants.
Furniture making is the city’s most important industry. In the early 1900s, the town’s rich timber resources and Bursa’s vibrant fabric industry combined to create an incubator for Īnegöl furniture makers. Today, the town is home to nearly 3,000 Turkish and international furniture manufacturers and suppliers ranging from huge multinational corporations to small local workshops. Many of these small workshops are in the town center, and visitors can poke their heads into some of these shops, meet the workers, wish them well, and snap a photo. Visitors can also stop by the massive, newly constructed Mobiliyum AVM, Turkey’s largest furniture mall. Read our post about one local furniture company here.
As for meatballs, the story goes that the now-famous Īnegöl köfte was created in the late 19th century by Mustafa Efendi, a Turkish immigrant from Bulgaria. Settling in Īnegöl, Mustafa eventually opened a köfte restaurant under the banner “Īnegöl Köftesi” and served a special, painstakingly perfected recipe of lamb and beef meatballs. The tasty onion-laced meatballs became a popular hit with locals and visitors and has grown in popularity ever since. Today, Īnegöl is known throughout Turkey and even in parts of Europe for its excellent variation of köfte. And though in recent years the market has become crowded by köfte producers of varying sizes and standards, Mustafa’s descendants carry on the original, high-quality Īnegöl köfte tradition in their chain of Besler Īnegöl Köftecisi restaurants. If you know a little Turkish, you can read up on the Besler family tradition here.
Īnegöl is a town famous for furniture and meatballs, and it’s a worthwhile excursion from Bursa’s city center. The town also happens to be famous for the nearby mountainside Oylat thermal area, a place I hope to visit myself in the near future. When I do finally make to Oylat, I’ll be sure to let you know all about it.