Bursa, the cradle of the Ottoman Empire

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Bursa is a legendary city in Turkey to say the least; shaped under the watchful eye of Hannibal, it will become the first capital of the Ottomans, giving life to one of the most incredible empires ever

The words of Ibn Battuta

“The Sultan of Bursa, is the most authoritative Turkmen king and also the one who possesses the greatest amount of money, lands and soldiers. He always makes a tour of his fortresses – an hundred – stopping a few days in each one to put things in order and see what they need: it seems that he has never stayed a whole month in the same place.

He also constantly fights the infidels and puts them under siege. “

Ibn Battuta

Prusa of Bithynia

The origins of today’s Bursa can be traced back to Prusia I, a king of Bithynia who, thanks to his victories against Eraclea Pontica, was honored by the Macedonian king Philip V with the city of Mirlea and Cio; both then changed the name, renaming the second and its surroundings Prusa. I speak of “its surroundings” because Gemlik has flourished above the ancient Cius, while Bursa is to be connected to “Prusa under Olympus”, located 30 km further inland and named for its proximity to Mount Uludağ, formerly known like Olympus of Misia.

Prusia I

One of its most famous visitors is undoubtedly the great Carthaginian Hannibal Barca, who stayed here in the last phase of his life, taking care of its construction himself. If Cius has in fact origins dating back to at least 500 BC, Prusa under Olympus seems to have been founded by Prusia, making the impact of Hannibal even more direct and decisive. According to Strabon, with the arrival of Rome the city flourished and became one of the major thermal centers of Anatolia; however Dio Chrysostom, a native of the city, describes it as modest in size. Remained a fairly anonymous city under the Byzantines, with the arrival of the Turks it will do justice to its first visitor, forever inscribing its name in history.

Bursa, the cradle of the Ottoman Empire

Between the 12th and 13th centuries, the Turkish tribe Söğüt settled not far from the city, later giving rise to the homonymous city. From this settlement Osman I made his way, legendary sovereign who, with the conquest of Bursa in 1326, gave rise to the extraordinary Ottoman Empire, named after him. Just as their first capital, the Ottomans worked hard to transform it into a thriving city of extraordinary charm, building some of its most beautiful mosques (including the Ulu Camii, or “Great mosque”) in this period. Although already in 1369 the Ottomans made Edirne their capital, Bursa always remained the center with the greatest symbolic value, so much so that innumerable sultans paid homage to it with the most beautiful works. Also here, legend has it that Karagöz and Hacivat, legendary characters of the Turkish shadow theater, were created.

The Ulu Camii

With the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the city inevitably went a little into the background, managing to find a new dimension thanks to the Silk Road. In fact, many of the silk merchants stopped here, becoming from that moment on one of the most valuable and quality production centers. Its history and its legendary industriousness continue to fascinate every Turk today, so much so that, since the birth of today’s Republic of Turkey, it has never stopped growing, attracting many of the Turks of the Balkans and qualifying itself among the first industrial centers of the country.

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