BURSA-THE CITY OF SHRINES, SARCOPHAGI , CEMETERIES AND GRAVESTONES
- Bursa is located in Marmara region in the north of Turkey and is surrounded by the sea of Marmara & Yalova in the north, Kocaeli & Sakarya in the north-east, Bilecik in the east, Kütahya in the south and Balıkesir in the west. It is about 250 kms from Istanbul and it takes about 2.5 hours by bus and one and a half hours by fast ferries. It has a rich historical past which used to be the host of many kingdoms & empires called Prusa in Hellentistic time, Bursa in Seljuk period and Hudavendigar in Ottoman ages. Roman-Byzantine-Seljuk-Ottoman and Christian-Jewish-Islamic monuments & temples & buildings can be found side by side as to show tolarent & historical facts in Bursa. The visitors coming to Bursa can find great İznik tiles covering the walls of mosques, the Byzantine frescoes on the walls of Hagia Sophia church in Nicea, can visit the tombs of Ottoman sultans in Tophane and the shrines of Ottoman princes buried in Muradiye and see all kinds of early Ottoman sarcophagus & tombstones reflecting in their periods’ beauties and the works of arts with endengared written ephitaps on. Bursa is one of the most important destinations for Turkish gravestones and cemeteries lovers in many aspects ; Ottoman empire was founded in Bursa in 1300 AD and it was the first capital of the empire so it has a lot of cemeteries, graveyards, shrines and tombs as well as gravestones belonging to early imperial period. It was conquered by Ottoman troops in 1326 AD by Sultan Orhan and it was enlarged by Sultan Murad I whose title was Hudavendigar that means builder so he made a great effort in his reign in order to enlarge Bursa city with madrasahs, bridges, bazaars, shops, caravanserails and shrines for scholars and sufis. Therefore Bursa city was known as Hudavendigar state by the Ottomans in imperial period to respect the Sultan Murad I. The first six Ottoman sultans, Osman, Orhan, Murad I, Beyazid I , Chalabi Mehmet and Murad II, had been buried in thier shrines and each of them has the large cemetery area with some small shrines for royal members and hundreds of gravestones consisting of grand viziers, scholars, statesmen and military personnel graves. Bursa is also in rich having some famous sufis shrines surrounded by small graveyards of their followers. As famous sheiks and sufis died, the domed shrines had been built and they had been buried near to his madrasahs and his followers & lovers also had been buried later to be closer to them andhad been forgiven in eternal world thus graveyards also have formed around their shrines in later centuries. These graveyards and cemeteries have been the famous holy centers to pay a visit to their shrines and the graves with sarcophagus and tombstones. Bursa began growing and spoiling in late 19th century because of Balcan conflict and thousands of Turkish immigrants from Greece, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Serbia and Crotia came to Turkey and were settled down in and around Bursa city. Most of the historical cemeteries and graveyards were romeved to open spaces for building new homes for the immigrants and thousands of gravestones have been taken to the musuem depots and have been stacked in gardens without any protection measures so these masterpieces of gravestone arts have been broken, abducted, disappeared and stolen in later times. After Turkish republic was proclaimed in 1923 Bursa became a city and it began growing fast as to become one of the most important industrial center in textile. The new Turkish state had a new alphabet called as Latin so shrines, cemeteries and graveyards which had written Arabic and Ottoman style Turkish ephitaps lost visitors’ attention and then historical cemeteries & graveyards had another destruction process. The young children coul not read and understand the written ephitaps and symbols on old Ottoman sarcophagus and tombstones so the inhabitants stop visiting those places between 1930s and 1960s. Only the famous mosques graveyards, the shrines of first six Ottoman sultans, the famous sufis and sheiks of Islamic sects have been preserved and protected as the fear of publicity but majority of historical cemeteries and small graveyards have been removed by some reasons unfortunately. Bursa is still an important Turkish & Ottoman cemeteries and graveyards destination with endengared sarcopgahus and tombstones which they are worth visiting that they are still representing a lot beauties and artworks. Anyone who would like spend at least three days for paying a visit Bursa cemeteries and gravestones, we should recommend these places as follows ; EMIR SULTAN shrine and its large cemetery with splendid marble sarcophagus and tombstones from 14th century to the beginning of 20th centuries, the GREEN TOMB where the fifth Ottoman Sultan Chalabi Mehmet I was buried under a domed shrines with his wives and childern worth seeing wonderful Nicea-İznik-tiles, MURAD HUDAVENDIGAR shrine placed on one of the hills overlooking the Bursa city with a small graveyard around, KARABAS WALI shrine in old part of Bursa city worth visiting sheik’s shrine and the small graveyard in order to breath spiritual atmosphere, MURADIYE tombs is placed on another hill covering a large area with hundreds of gravestones and 13 Ottoman princes & princesses are buried in domed shrines as the masterpieces of Ottoman burial artwork around Muradiye Kulliye-the big complex consisiting of a beautiful mosque in the centre, TOPHANE hill with Osman and Orhan Sultans sarcophagi at the summit of old Bursa city, SEYYID USUL and Uftade , two of the famous Islamic scholars, their shrines are another stops to visit and to see wonderful gravestones and sect masters ‘ sarcophagi in different parts of Bursa where their madrasahs were turned into small museums today, TURKISH-ISLAMIC ART MUSEUM is a must to pay a visit during Bursa trip and some unique Janissary gravestones are on display in its garden with special badges on and ZEYNILER is the last place to see the oldest 14th century Ottoman gravestones around a small shrine..