Rise of the Ottoman Empire – Bursa
Sane Mind Turkey

Rise of the Ottoman Empire – Bursa

By the beginning of the 15th century, Bursa had not been the capital city of the Ottoman Empire for 37 years. Sultan Murad I conquered Adrianople in 1363, renamed it in Edirne and moved the Ottoman capital. The 14th century marks the birth and the initial expansion of the Ottoman state, while the 15th century marks its rise to one of the biggest empires that the world has ever seen, that lasted for over 600 years.

 

 

THE RISE OF THE EMPIRE

 

Despite the fact that Bursa was no longer the capital city, it retained its status as the spiritual centre and the trade hub. Indeed, the most beautiful historical structures that you can see in Bursa today are from the 15th century. That period started with the construction of the Grand Mosque, but after that the Ottoman sultans built new imperial mosques and complexes, in addition to bazaars, hammams and hans.

In my previous post, I described the nascent Ottoman state through Bursa’s 14th century historical monuments.

In this post, we will see the rise of the empire through the 15th century Ottoman heritage that makes Bursa a very special place and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Together with Istanbul, but also with some other cities in Turkey, Bursa is one of the best places to explore the Ottoman history.

 

 

GREEN MOSQUE (1421)

 

After the Grand Mosque, the next big imperial mosque to be built in Bursa was the Green Mosque or Yeşil Cami in Turkish.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

Sultan Mehmed I Çelebi constructed it as his mosque in 1412, one year before he came to power in 1413.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

His father, Sultan Bayezid I, was captured by the Turco-Mongol warlord Timur during the Battle of Ancara in 1402. That event started the Ottoman civil war that lasted between 1402 and 1413, when Mehmed defeated and killed his 3 brothers. They were all fighting to rule the Ottoman Empire.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

If you go to Bursa, you wouldn’t want to miss this mosque. It is the prime example of the early Ottoman architecture, with elements of the Seljuk style. Also, despite being much smaller than the Grand Mosque, it is equally beautiful.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

The first thing that you notice when you enter the mosque is that there is the fountain inside, the same as in the Grand Mosque. You are not going to see fountains in mosques constructed centuries later in Istanbul and other places.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

Another unusual thing is that the mosque is not on the same level. Rather, there are steps that lead to the main area.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

Otherwise, the mosque is predominantly decorated with green tiles and they give the name to the mosque.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

But, what I’ve also noticed is that the design of the tiles is different from tiles used in decoration of mosques constructed much later in Istanbul.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

In fact, although the mosques that you can see in Istanbul are undoubtedly beautiful, after you’ve seen several of them, you become lost. Certainly, they are all very different from each other, but to you they all may look the same. That’s because the tiles and other decorative forms are very similar.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

But, as you can see in these photos, this mosque is very different.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

The mosque is not in the city centre. At the same time, it’s not too far away and it took approximately 20 minutes for me to walk there.

 

Green Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Mosque

 

 

GREEN TOMB (1421)

 

The Green Tomb, or Yeşil Türbe, is part of the Sultan Mehmed I Çelebi complex and it’s immediately next to the Green Mosque.

 

Green Tomb - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Tomb

 

Undoubtedly, this mausoleum is one of Bursa’s most memorable landmarks. In fact, it is unique and like no other mausoleum that you can see in Bursa or in other cities with Ottoman imperial tombs.

 

Green Tomb - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Tomb

 

But, beautiful tiles that adorn its outer walls are not all original. After many centuries and numerous earthquakes, they had to restore the building and to replace damaged tiles. Nevertheless, the tomb is essentially the same as it was when they first made it.

 

Green Tomb - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Tomb

 

The interior is stunning. In a photo below, you can see the sultan’s coffin.

 

Sultan Mehmed II - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Sultan Mehmed II

 

Additionally, it is very different from Osman’s and Orhan’s mausoleums. In fact, these early mausoleums seem to be rather unique in the way they are decorated, unlike the later dated mausoleums in Istanbul which all look very similar.

 

Green Tomb - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Tomb

 

If the Green Tomb and the Green Mosque were the only historical sites in Bursa, it would still be worth visiting the city. But, they are only a small part of the vast heritage that you can find there. Many exquisite constructions arrived to Bursa later.

 

Green Tomb - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Green Tomb

 

 

MURADIYE MOSQUE (1426)

 

There is one more imperial mosque in Bursa, the Muradiye Mosque or the Sultan Murad II Mosque.

 

Muradiye Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Muradiye Mosque

 

It was the last big imperial mosque constructed in Bursa. The 15th century historical events dramatically changed the Ottoman Empire. Only 27 years after the construction of this mosque, Murad’s son – Fatih Sultan Mehmed – conquered Constantinople. After that pivotal event, the Islamic spiritual centre of the Ottoman Empire moved from Bursa to the new capital. Consequently, from that time the Ottoman sultans commissioned and constructed big imperial complexes in Istanbul.

 

Muradiye Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Muradiye Mosque

 

However, over the course of 150 years Bursa experienced the construction boom, to become the second in wealth of historical sites after Istanbul. The Muradiye Mosque contributes to its patrimony.

 

Muradiye Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Muradiye Mosque

 

This mosque is also the prime example of the early Ottoman architecture, with elements of the Seljuk era style. It is similar to the Green Mosque and Sultan Murad II started its construction immediately after the works on the Green Mosque and the Green Tomb had finished.

 

Muradiye Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Muradiye Mosque

 

The same as the Green Mosque, it is also slightly far from the centre, but you can walk there. It took approximately half an hour for me to get there, although I stopped several times to see some other sites on the way.

 

Muradiye Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Muradiye Mosque

 

That’s also why I mentioned in one of my previous posts that if you visit Bursa, you should stay for at least two days. That would give you enough time to see the main historical area, but also sites like this mosque which are in a different location.

 

Muradiye Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Muradiye Mosque

 

 

SULTAN MURAD II MAUSOLEUM

 

By then, it became customary for sultans to be buried in mausoleums next to their mosques. I mention this because Osman Gazi and Orhan Gazi, the first and the second sultan of the empire are buried in Tophane Park, where there is no mosque.

 

Sultan Murad II Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Sultan Murad II Mausoleum

 

The extraordinary thing about the Muradiye Mosque is that its complex houses the biggest number of imperial tombs. I will only mention two of them in this post, otherwise the post would be too long. But, all mausoleums are worth a visit because of their splendid interior decoration.

 

Sultan Murad II Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Sultan Murad II Mausoleum

 

Murad’s mausoleum, although constructed right after the Green Tomb of Sultan Mehmed I Çelebi, is completely different.

 

Sultan Murad II Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Sultan Murad II Mausoleum

 

Murad’s achievement was that he regained Ottoman territories that had become autonomous after the defeat and the capture of his grandfather Bayezid I. Additionally, Murad successfully conquered vast territories in the Balkans.

 

Sultan Murad II Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Sultan Murad II Mausoleum

 

Interestingly, his tomb is also different from tombs of his predecessors.

 

Sultan Murad II - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Sultan Murad II

 

 

CEM SULTAN MAUSOLEUM

 

This is the second 15th century imperial tomb that I want to mention in this post. It puzzled me a lot when I saw the inscription – Cem Sultan Mausoleum. From what I knew about the Ottoman history, there was no Cem Sultan that ruled the empire at any time. After Murad, his son Mehmed took the power and became one of the most successful sultans in the Ottoman history. Fatih Sultan Mehmed conquered Constantinople.

 

Cem Sultan Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Cem Sultan Mausoleum

 

Without going into too much detail, Cem ruled for a very brief period of time in 1481. He was Fatih Sultan Mehmed’s third son.

 

Cem Sultan Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Cem Sultan Mausoleum

 

After Mehmed’s death, him and his half-brother Bayezid engaged in power struggle for the throne of the empire. Thus, shortly after Mehmed’s death, Bayezid ruled as a sultan in Istanbul and Cem ruled in Bursa for one month, as the Sultan of Anatolia.

 

Cem Sultan Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Cem Sultan Mausoleum

 

Bayezid managed to defeat him and became Sultan Bayezid II. Cem escaped with his family to Cairo. He died in exile.

 

Cem Sultan Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Cem Sultan Mausoleum

 

As you can see in the photos, it’s a magnificently decorated mausoleum.

 

Cem Sultan Mausoleum - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Cem Sultan Mausoleum

 

 

MURADIYE MADRASA (1426)

 

Together with the mosque, the Muradiye Madrasa forms the Muradiye Complex. At the time of its construction, this madrasa was the most famous educational institution within the Ottoman empire. Many famous scientists taught there and it produced many famous scientists of that era.

It is the classical example of the early Ottoman architecture, with Seljuk elements.

 

Muradiye Madrasa - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Muradiye Madrasa

 

Because of fires and earthquakes over past centuries, they had to restore the building numerous times. In the 1950s, they used it as the TB hospital.

From January 2019, the Muradiye Madrasa is the Museum of Qu’ran and Manuscripts.

 

Muradiye Madrasa - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Muradiye Madrasa

 

 

IVAZ PASHA MOSQUE

 

Haci Ivaz Pasha was the chief architect during the Sultan Murad II’s reign. He constructed the Green Mosque and the Green Tomb, plus numerous other buildings that you can see in Bursa today.

 

Ivaz Pasha Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Ivaz Pasha Mosque

 

One of those buildings is the Ivaz Pasha Mosque.

 

Ivaz Pasha Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Ivaz Pasha Mosque

 

It’s a small mosque located in the most central historical area of Bursa, only a short walk from the Grand Mosque and it is surrounded by many historical structures.

 

Ivaz Pasha Mosque - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Ivaz Pasha Mosque

 

As you can see in a photo below, the Pirinç Han is in the same square, directly opposite the mosque.

 

Ivaz Pasha Square - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Ivaz Pasha Square

 

 

IVAZ PASHA MARKET

 

At the same time when Ivaz Pasha constructed his mosque, he also constructed the market, as part of a bigger complex. I couldn’t find any reference regarding the year in which he built his complex. But, as Ivaz Pasha died in 1429, he must have built both the mosque and the Ivaz Pasha Market in years prior to his death.

 

Ivaz Pasha Market - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Ivaz Pasha Market

 

They sell furniture and other household items in this market. The market is connected with surrounding structures and on the other side you arrive to the Geyve Han.

 

Ivaz Pasha Market - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Ivaz Pasha Market

 

 

GEYVE HAN

 

I wrote about the Emir Han in my previous post, the oldest one in Bursa. But, it was in the 15th century that they built numerous other hans in the city. The Geyve Han is the oldest of four hans that I will mention in this article. Together with imperial mosque complexes, these hans create the nucleus of historical Bursa.

 

Geyve Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Geyve Han

 

Haci Ivaz Pasha built the Geyve Han at the beginning of the 15th century. He presented it as a gift to Sultan Mehmed I Çelebi, to generate revenues for the maintenance of the Green Mosque.

 

Geyve Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Geyve Han

 

It is smaller than hans that I will mention later, it has 56 rooms in total, 26 downstairs and 30 upstairs.

 

Geyve Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Geyve Han

 

 

FIDAN HAN (1464)

 

When I talk about the magic of Bursa, I primarily consider the old historical area. What I mean is that when you start to explore this area and you come across the Fidan and other hans, you end up feeling amazed. In other words, such concentration of beautiful historical structures cannot leave you indifferent. It’s really hard to believe that there is so much to see.

 

Fidan Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Fidan Han

 

The Grand Vizier of Fatih Sultan Mehmed, Mahmud Pasha, built the Fidan Han. I did some research about the Fidan Han for this post and, to my surprise, I came across an interesting piece of information previously unknown to me. The same as Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, Mahmud Pasha Angelović was Serbian, abducted as a child by the Ottomans, under the devşirme system. He also advanced to the second most powerful position within the Ottoman Empire. I’ve never heard this before and I don’t think that there are many people in Serbia that know this.

 

Fidan Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Fidan Han

 

Mahmud Pasha constructed this han to generate income for his mosque in Istanbul. The Fidan Han is a beautiful place, with shops and restaurants. It is where you would certainly want to go, for coffee or for something to eat and to have a rest.

 

Fidan Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Fidan Han

 

 

KOZA HAN (1491)

 

Without any doubt, the most beautiful of all hans in Bursa is the Koza Han.

 

Koza Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Koza Han

 

Sultan Bayezid II built it, to provide income for his mosque complex in Istanbul.

 

Koza Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Koza Han

 

This han is also in Bursa’s historical centre, immediately next to the Emir Han, the Orhan Gazi Mosque and the Grand Mosque.

 

Koza Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Koza Han

 

Unfortunately, the same as with most mosques, you can’t take one photo that would show everything. Additionally, trees in the courtyard of the han further obscure the view. But, I believe that you can get a good idea of how it is inside. The second day of my stay in Bursa, I set in the Koza Han for several hours and enjoyed its magical atmosphere.

 

Koza Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Koza Han

 

 

PIRINÇ HAN (1508)

 

The last historical site that I will mention in this post is the Pirinç Han .

 

Pirinç Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Pirinç Han

 

Sultan Bayezid II built it, to provide income for his mosque complex in Istanbul, the same as the Koza Han. It’s interesting that he chose Bursa to build these two splendid constructions, although he could have done it in Istanbul. It confirms that Bursa was important as a strategic trade hub, otherwise there would have been no need to build so many inns that served both as hotels and commercial places. Apart from Istanbul, I have not seen so many big hans in any other cities that I visited in Turkey.

 

Pirinç Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Pirinç Han

 

Pirinç means rice in English, so this han was where they sold grains and rice. Today, it’s a place where you can go for a drink or a meal, as you will predominantly find restaurants and bars there. The first evening of my stay in Bursa, I had dinner in one of the restaurants in the Pirinç Han.

 

Pirinç Han - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Pirinç Han

 

Or if you don’t want to eat, you can stop for a quick refreshment at the Pirinç Han Büfe.

 

Pirinç Han Büfe - Rise of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa
Pirinç Han Büfe

 

There is a lot of history in this post, but that’s because there is a lot of history in Bursa. What I particularly liked about Bursa was that you can follow both, the birth and the rise of the Ottoman Empire, through its numerous historical structures.

In the 15th century, Bursa experienced the construction boom that marked the rise, the increasing power and the wealth of the Empire.

Thankfully, most of it is preserved and definitely worth a visit. I would like to go back and perhaps I will at some point in the future. Unfortunately, I missed several important sites, which I mentioned in my previous post.

I have also seen many other things in Bursa, but because there were so many of them, I could not pay attention to all of them, plus there was also an element of saturation. We can only absorb so much, while there is a lot to see and remember in Bursa.

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