Bursa is a great Turkish City, that contains and grew from the Ottoman walled town of Osmangazi. Its mosques, minarets, covered markets and madras as are now complemented by a modem city of two and a half a million. It has long been famous for its silks. The city hosted the 19th Symposium of WTFC in 2009.
Bursa was formed by the Bithynians in the 2nd century BC who came and settled to the area in the 7th century BC and later on became an independent kingdom in 327BC. With the suggestion of General Hannibal who escaped the Romans and took refuge in Bithynia, the Bithynia King Prusias built a city he named Prusias ad Olympum in 185BC on top of a hill and surrounded it with walls. Over time, the city’s name Prusias became Prusa and later on Bursa. Built by the Bithynians, the Bursa Castle suffered damages during various sieges over time and has undergone several repairs during the Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire eras. During the Orhan Gazi era who added Bursa to the lands of Ottoman Empire in 1326, the walls were supported by bastions (towers). Famous Ottoman Traveler, Evliya Celebi who visited Bursa in 1640 stated that the castle had 67 towers, 5 gates and that the surrounding area is 10,000 steps. The walls are approximately 2 kilometers long and the gates are named Hisar (Saltanat), Kaplica, Zindan, Pinarpasi (Su), Yer (Zemin) gates.
Balabancik and Gazi Aktimur Fortress
Gazi Osman Bey had planned to head towards Bursa after Bilecik, Inegol, Sakarya and Yenisehir. Because it is surrounded by steep cliffs, it wasn’t going to be easy to conquer the Bursa Walls, so Osman Gazi built two lookout towers, what we call transfer towers, one being on the hill east of the city and the other at the west of the city by the thermal springs and watched the entrances to and exits from the city-walls then blockaded the city. Because Balaban Bey was assigned to the tower on the east and Gazi Aktimur to the tower on the west as tower commanders, these towers are known by their names. From these, the Balabancik Fortress has been repaired, whatever has survived until today, and was put under protection. Conquest of Bursa festivals are held in Yerkapi as well as some ceremonies being held at the Balabancik Fortress.
Situated at the southeast of Urunlu Neighborhood, the Kite Fortress was built on a flat plain and due to this, perhaps there is no other examples of it in history. Wall ruins from the Kite Fortress that have reached our current day show that the fortress was spectacular. Today, the base traces of the surviving three pieces of wall ruins at different heights and the rectangular planned corner bastions can be identified.
Romans battled to protect this city which they named Nicea. In order to save Nicea, which has suffered various attacks, from these raids of war, the Bithynia Kingdom rebuilt the walls more strongly which were already being built at the time but suffered damage during earthquakes. The 4970 meter long walls are pentameral polygon and they encircle the city. It assumed the defense duty with additions to it during the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire periods. The walls exhibit the mastery of every civilization and because every civilization benefited from the previous civilization, the walls are virtually a weaved history that are nested together.
The four main gates are as spectacular as a triumphal arch and three of them are still standing. Usage of marble frieze pieces on the Lefke gate can be seen. Because the Istanbul Gate opens to Constantinople, it is the most spectacular gate. With the masks brought from the Roman Theater, it was made even more spectacular. The Yenisehir gate is partially standing. The Gol Gate has completely collapsed.
Iznik Walls have 12 secondary gates and 114 towers that are built in intervals of 10-15 meters. It also displays the intricacies of the war and defense strategies of that area.
Golyazi Interior Castle and City Walls
Modern settlement still exists inside the ancient walls that are approximately 800 meters long. It is possible to use the castle walls for both defense and for against overflow of the lake. Examples of traditional residential architecture can be seen on the walls and there are also several doors and towers. Most important one of these is the Simitcikale at north. In addition, there is also a tower in the square. Within the ruins of the external wall that surrounds the peninsula where the settlement is and the ruins of the internal wall that surrounds the island, changes which were made over centuries with the devshirmeh materials can be seen. In some places the Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman styles are intertwined.
Situated 12 kilometers east of Bursa, Kestel was the governorship center during the Byzantine period. The fortress in the district was the border fortress of the Eastern Roman Empire and due to this it was named Kastel (castel) which means a little castle in Latin and in 1306, after the Dimboz Battle, with the Ottomans conquering it, its name became Kestel.
Mrs. Nalan Fidan
Head of Projects Department and Historical Heritage Preservation Directorate
Bursa Metropolitan Municipality