Bursa, Turkey: Guide to Walking Downtown Historic Bursa with Kids

Guide to Walking Downtown Bursa with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

Our third day in Bursa, we walked from our AirBnB to Tophane to the historic mosque (Ulu Cami) and market area (particularly Koza Han the silk market) to the bridge market to the Green Tomb. Total that was about 2.5 miles. I use the word “walking tour” in the title loosely–this was completely self planned by me and was minimal on lectures to accommodate the kids! But we got to see a lot of history and get a good overview.

After the Green Tomb and Mosque, we took a taxi across town back towards home to a nice park (Reşat Oyal Kültür Parkı) and played on the playgrounds before walking home.

The walk from our AirBnB near Muradiye Complex (here) to Tophane Clock Tower and Tombs (here) was fairly uphill. We followed a switchback road up, up, up. Kids complained a bit, but it was the start of the day so we all had energy still.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

Tophane Park contains the Tophane Clock Tower (under renovation and covered in scaffolding when we were there), Osman Gazi’s Tomb, Orhan Gazi’s Tomb, and a large open space with benches, trees, and a nice view over the city. Also a few cafes and the like nearby.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

Tophane is the most ancient part of Bursa. It used to be a citadel, and you can still see some original Byzantine walls along the roads as you walk. Walking paths go up and down the walls to reach different levels, but we stayed at street level. Bursa Fortress was built about 185 BC by Prusias I of the Bithynians. It was damaged by the Romans, Byzantines, and the Ottomans and various towers and gates have been added over time.

FCECEF84-0DAB-4EFA-B168-8131142F0087Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

Osman and Orhan Gazi were founders of the Ottoman Dynasty (read a bit about that time period here in my previous post). Osman Gazi attempted to capture Bursa in the 13th century, but his son Orhan was the one who actually succeeded. Orhan buried Osman in the bapistry of a converted church and he himself was later buried in the nave. In 1855, an earthquake destroyed the church and original tombs and they were rebuilt in 1968.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com
The view from Tophane Park

We walked around the Tophane Park a little bit. It is a good place for kids to run around. We saw Turkey’s first cable car, which started in 1963. One thing to note, is the park is not a grassy area with playground. It is more like a large courtyard space.

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After Tophane Park, we walked a short distance down Osman Gazi Caddesi (street) to Balibey Han, a market area that has a cafe. From Osman Gazi Cd, the cafe is down just a few steps. The kids shared some amazing chocolate cake and DH had a Turkish coffee. I then took the kids down to the park at the lower level (the market is built into a hill with an upper and lower entrance). Kids ran around the park some, and I got a simit from a local vendor (simit is a Turkish sesame street bread that is very cheap).

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com
“Pasta” means “cake” in Turkish. “Makarna” means “pasta” in Turkish. The çikolatalı pasta (chocolate cake) was excellent and a big enough slice for the kids to share and the parents to get a few bites.

After our break at the cafe, we headed into the market area around the Great Mosque (Ulu Cami). This area has covered bazaars, a flower market, several mosques, the silk market (Koza Han) and restaurants. We went into Ulu Cami first. We carried our shoes in a foldable bag I had with me (easier than risking the kids dropping their shoes). You’ll also need a head covering for women. It was large and pretty and has a large ablutions fountain in the center.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.comAEB96462-C0CC-4029-B5EA-0E93E2806279Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

We then went to the Orhan Gazi Mosque, built in 1339 and the oldest of Bursa’s mosques. Near this mosque we found public bathrooms. There was a charge of about 1.5 tl per person. If you have exact change, you get in faster! We found in general bathrooms around Bursa ranged from 1-2 tl to use.

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4D8AB785-6757-4ACD-AD37-46EB2FB3AD74_1_201_a40DC6E72-0871-4206-BB69-53F89C965F64Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

Our next stop was Koza Han, the covered silk market. Prior to our trip to Bursa, I had shown DD6 a video on the highlights of Bursa and she learned about silk. She insisted she needed a silk scarf as her souvenir! “Han” can translate as “khan” which we saw in Egypt a lot–a market area. It was built by Sultan Beyezid II and finished in 1491.

It has a classical design with two stories in the main structure that encircles an almost square courtyard. It has an area for stables and warehouses and three entrances. There is a masjid (mosque) and ablution fountain in the center of the patio.

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It was an international trading and shopping center since it was built and still has commercial activity, mostly focused around selling silks to tourists. The site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.comDowntown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

When we entered, we did a slow loop of the top level, looking at all the silk patterns and options. There was also paschmina, regular wool, art, and other things. But our focus was silk. After looping, we went back to our favorite shops, which happened to be next to each other. DD picked out a scarf in purples that she loves. The silk comes in various quality levels. So hers we got on the lower end (about $10), while mine was on the higher end (about $50). In the other shop, DH picked out a couple silk ties and I got my scarf. I don’t tend to wear scarves, but I like to use them as table runners. I put this one on my dresser under my jewelry boxes to brighten up all the dark wood.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com
My silk scarf
Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com
DD’s silk scarf

By this point we were hungry and went through one of the arches into another courtyard where were there a bunch of restaurants. We picked one and DH and I both got İskender Kepap, which Bursa is famous for. It is meat covered with a red sauce and a yogurt dip. I like it, but it’s not my favorite kebab option. DS got his preferred Kaşarlı Gözleme (mozzarella type cheese stuffed in flat bread), and DD got Tavuk Şiş (marinated chicken chunks grilled on skewers–aka chicken kebabs or shish tawook).

Fun Fact: “Şiş” is pronounced “Shish” and “Kaşarlı” is “kasharluh” because the “ş” is a /sh/ sound. Also, Turkish has i with a dot on top and ı without the dot. This also applies to capitals– I is different from İ. For someone who never dots her i’s when writing, I have had to learn that the dot makes a big difference!

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İskender Kepap
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Tavuk Şiş

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

Post lunch, we headed off to Tarihi Irgandı Çarşılı Köprü, the historical Irgandı Bazaar Bridge. It is literally a bridge that has a bazaar built on top with a range of very cute little shops focusing on a lot of jewelry. There are some beautiful pieces and if you like little artisan shops and jewelry, it is worth stopping by.

While GoogleMaps doesn’t show it as a pedestrian route, we walked past Selçuk Hatun Mosque on Selçuk Hatun Sk, walked across the bridge, and popped out at Gökdere Blv.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com4BD14F71-B7C3-4352-B925-6AC9DC55F648_1_201_aDowntown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

We then wound up to the Green Tomb and Green Mosque. They are in an area called Yeşil which is very popular with tourists and has a lot of attractions. They are across the street from each other and a very popular tourist destination. The buildings around them are colorful and pretty. Both are UNESCO sites. The Green Tomb is mostly blue, but is covered in beautiful tiles. We luckily got into the tomb during a break in tour buses and had a short period by ourselves. The walk around the tomb was pretty too.

The tomb was built between 1414 and 1421 and contains Mehmet I’s tomb. It is more Seljuk in style than Classical Ottoman. Most of the original green tiles on the outside are 19th century replacements.

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Then we headed across the street to the Green Mosque. It was commissioned by Mehmet I in 1412 but was never finished and still doesn’t have a portico. The mihrab has lots of turquoise, deep blue, and white with touches of gold and lots of flowers, leaves, arabesques, and geometric designs.

We arrived during prayer time and there was a sign at the door that tourists should not enter during prayers. But then the guardians at the door were gesturing in tourists and we watched various tour groups go in. So we went in and did a quick look from the back. It was beautiful and I would have loved to have gone in not during prayer so I could have examined it more closely. But by this time, the kids were worn out with sightseeing and we needed to get to a playground! Highly recommend allowing more time for it.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com
I didn’t take many pictures inside because it was prayer time. But I did take this close up of some of the tile work. We walked with a man there who owns a shop nearby and also does painting restoration work in the mosque, including this gold work.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

This whole area around the Green Mosque and Green Tomb (Yeşil) is beautiful. There is also the Turkish & Islamic Art Museum (Türk Ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi) near the Green Mosque, but we didn’t have time to go in. It came recommended in our guide book though.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com
Some of the houses near the Green Tomb

We caught a taxi to the Reşat Oyal Kültür Parkı which is near Muradiye and our AirBnb. (Entrance was here) It was large and had lots of grass, several playgrounds (all pretty much identical), little cafes, ice cream stands, and walking paths. There was also an amusement park area, but we didn’t go to it. Kids enjoyed playing and walking around.

Downtown Historic Bursa Walking Tour with Kids | www.carriereedtravels.com

From there, we walked about .6 miles back to our AirBnb, including up a big flight of stairs!

It was a good day of exploring and we could have spent longer in all the locations. But it was a nice taste of history and some fun exploring.

Practical Information:

Distance: Because we took lots of breaks, the walk from Muradiye to Tophane to the Market area around Ulu Cami to the Green Tomb was very doable for our 4 and 6 year olds. There were hills and steps as Bursa is definitely not flat! If you taxi to Tophane to start (depending on where you are staying), it is even an easier walk.

Bathrooms: There were for-charge public bathrooms in the market area and the playground that we used. I imagine they were in other places also, but we didn’t use them there. Expect to pay 1-2 tl per person for use and exact change helps the process.

Food and Drink: Tons of cafes everywhere. Turkish food is very kid friendly.  Our kids’ favorites include Kaşarlı Gözleme (mozzarella type cheese stuffed in flat bread), Tavuk Şiş (marinated chicken chunks grilled on skewers–aka chicken kebabs or shish tawook), Kaşarlı pide (mozzarella type cheese on top of pita type bread. Like a sauceless pizza. Also has options with meat on top), and tavuk döner (slow cooked sliced chicken strips in wraps. Some places add toppings such as French fries, tomatoes, pickled items, sauce, etc. My kids prefer it just meat and bread). Many places also have hamburgers and cheeseburgers (typically called the English word) For dessert, çikolatalı pasta is chocolate cake. There are always fruit juices (meyve suyu)–portakal suyu is orange juice and elma suyu is apple juice. Water is su and milk is süt. Kahve is coffee and çay is tea (chai).

Mosques: Women need a head covering to enter the mosques. Everyone will remove their shoes. Women should be dressed modestly, 3/4 length or long sleeves and a long skirt or pants is a good idea. Men should not wear shorts in a mosque.

Taxis: There is a taxi stand near the Green Mosque and Green Tomb that we used. You can also hail taxis on the street or look for a taxi call button attached to a post/pole. Taxis should all have meters. Make sure yours is working when you get in.

 

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