By Shahd Alhamdan
A hashtag created by a group of Arab media personnel, ‘Bursa with an Arabic Taste,’ is propelling Bursa into the forefront by highlighting the history and the touristic infrastructure that is making this coastal Turkish province a big draw.
Bursa Province, a province in Turkey along the Sea of Marmara coast in northwestern Anatolia, is steeped in history due to Bursa’s importance as a former capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Its historical importance was capitalized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey and Bursa Province when they hosted a FAM tour for Arab media on the principle that ‘seeing is believing’. And in it they showcased the province’s history and beauty.
The immediate reaction after the February 4-7 trip was the creation of this hashtag to post all the lovely things an Arab can avail in this Turkish province.
The tour was organized by Arab Tourism Organization to boost the Arab numbers to Turkey, while providing a glimpse of the glorious Ottoman past.
The fact that Arabs have already found the province to their liking can be gauged by the fact that over 100,000 Saudis visit Bursa annually.
It is a famous touristic spot, particularly during winter. In addition, the Turkish tourism authority has made it a point to establish super connectivity — by land, sea and air — to allow for numbers of tourists to grow.
You can go to Bursa from Istanbul on ferries, small planes, or cars by passing the new bridge. This along with the fact that there’s something to do for everybody in this province pulls the tourists.
The city is also famous for its hot mineral water baths, as well as, Ottoman architecture mosques and sites. While delving in history, you can sate your palate with a unique dish on offer.
It is the best place to enjoy the famous Turkish dish ‘Iskender Kebab’, which are slices of roast lamb dressed with browned butter and savory tomato sauce.
While on food, having a local breakfast that includes soup, eggs, jellies, local butter honey, and Turkish tea, is a must-have during the Bursa visit.
In Saitabat village, there is a famous restaurant ‘Sultan Annelerden Köy Kahvaltısı’ meaning ‘Village Breakfast from Sultan Anneler’ that caters to the morning meal with a set menu.
The Association for Solidarity of Village Women of Saitabat Village runs this restaurant and it was the first one in Turkey. But nowadays several such associations have sprung up around the country.
This charming place’s décor is simple but elegant. It has a series of white curtains, cedar paneling and flooring and Ottoman motifs making it a meal that provides a good start to your day. You can also buy jars of honey or other products at the restaurant.
Take a walk around the Saitabat village, which is around one hour far from Bursa.
The changing landscape fills your senses as you go through the mountains and a swath of greenery. The signature waterfall adorns the village while the warmth of the people makes you feel welcomed.
You can enjoy horse rides, or take photos of the natural scenic beauty or have a more leisurely adventure.
The hashtag also extols the virtues of another village, which was in the tour. It is the oldest Ottoman village, ‘Cumalıkızık,’ which is located in Yıldırım town of Bursa.
Built around 1300 AD, visitors to the city are treated to a veritable feast of Ottoman architectures evident in houses and old buildings in the village.
In 2014, UNESCO accepted it as part of the country’s heritage. People enjoy buying wood souvenirs and gifts and while drinking hot Turkish beverages in one of the many cafes that dot the city.
One of the major historic spots of the Ottoman era in Bursa is the Muradiye Complex. The site has around 12 tombs of Sultan Murat II and his family members, mosque, bath, school, and hospital.
Tombs of Sultans Osman and Orhan are other famous historic sites located on the top of a hill in Tophane Park. This tomb is important since Osman Gazi is considered the founder of Ottoman Empire.
The other tomb is of his son Orhan. Some of the stories illustrate that the original tombs were destroyed during one of the earthquakes that hit Bursa. This incident took place in 1855 and was rebuilt during Sultan Abdulaziz period.
Even trees are part of the historic hubs in Bursa where tourists are given varying scenery. One of ancient site in Bursa is the 600-year-old tree of Inkaya.
Bursa is a blend of the ancient and the modern, as proven by Podyum Park. It was launched in 2015 and is an open-air family hub, where people can enjoy shopping, playing, and dining.
Visitors can enjoy cinema, too. An Aqua Park aquatic center will be opened soon in Cumhuriyet, while options for water sports can also be availed.
Many people come to Bursa, especially Turks, to enjoy skiing in the winter at Uludag Mountains, which is around 8,343 feet high.