THE WALLS AND GATES IN BURSA
The ancient resources point Prusias I. (232-192 B.C) as the founder of Bursa. When Hannibal, the King of Carthage lost the war to Roman Empire, he took shelter with the Prusias I. Together with his army. He was welcomed here as a victorious commander and was respected. As a reward for this warmth Hannibal and his soldiers built a city. They called this city Prusias and gave it to him as a present. As this is the first settling area, Hisar District is a place where we can trace many civilizations during the history.
It is said in many historical resources that the first design of Bursa Hisar District had been drawn by Carthage of Hannibal and it is still not far from its original concept. As well as remains of walls and gates that reflect Bythinian, Roman and Byzantium eras; monumental buildings such as mosque, tomb and fountain from Ottoman era, excavation site of the Bythinian palace and the presence of ‘Bey Palace’ has highlighted the importance of the district. Civil architectural examples and original road structures are also standing as values.
Bursa Castle and the Walls were built in the natural rocky cliffs, where Tophane and Hisar district is located today by Bythinians, the founders of Bursa. The walls were rebuilt or reparied as the city was laid siege and demolished. The first repair of the walls was during the reign of Orhan Bey and construction materials from Byzantium were also used. Walls were repaired ans solidified by Hacı İvaz Paşa after Timur invasions and Karamanoğlu Mehmet Bey’s assault. Walls were under comprehensive maintanence in 1651 and 1855. The famous traveller Evliya Çelebi described the walls in his book “Seyahatname” and told that the surroundings are 10.000 steps and there were 67 towers and 5 gates.
The total length ofthe walls are 3,38 km and there are 14 towers and five gates: Sultanate Gate, Ground Gate, Conquest Gate, Dungeon Gate and Thermal Spring Gate.
It was called ‘Sultanate Gate’ because it is located on the way to Bey Palace. It is one of the five gates of Bursa city walls and it was one of the most important ones as positioning in the boundary of the city and having a military function. Standing as a gate to the Silk and Spice Road it was reparied during the reign of Mehmet I. (Çelebi Mehmet – 1413-1421). An Arabic epigraph was located on the gate after the maintanence. Although its arch was still there until 1900’s, it was destroyed in 1904 by then Governor Reşid Pasha by reason of enlarging the street and delaying traffic. The epigraph was delivered to the museum after the destruction. Here is the content of the epigraph: “The renewal of this gate was ordered by Sultan Mehmet I., the son of Sultan Bâyezid I. May his reign persists. Hicrî (Islamic calendar). 821, 1418 A.D”. During the reconstruction project, this original epigraph was taken from the museum and put on the gate by Osmangazi Municipality. As there is ‘Çırapazarı’ (Tinder market) and ‘Balıkpazarı’ (Fish Market) close to this gate, it had sometimes been mentioned as ‘Çırapazarı’ ve ‘Balıkpazarı’ Gate. Because the tomb of Osman Gazi was there, this was also called in some resources as ‘Gümüşlü Kümbet (Silver Cupola) or Gümüşlü İmaret Kapısı (Silver Mission Gate)’. This gate was widely known as Castle Gate despite it was referred as Sultanate Gate and Cihangir (the Conqueror). Restoration and reconstruction project was started in 2005 by Osmangazi Municipality and it was called as ‘Sultanate Gate’.
GROUND GATE (BAB-I ZEMİN)
It is known that this gate was destroyed by then Bursa Governor Celaleddin Pasha in order to create more space for the traffic although it existed until 1900’s. The reconstruction of the Ground Gate has been concluded by Osmangazi Municipality in 2008. As it is seen in the photo dated 1894, Ground Gate is near the zone of Dar’ül Kur’a (the place where Quran is read). But the one in the inner wall is Inner Ground Gate. The real Ground Gate was between the two walls, along the way to Tahtakale, right on the left direction when going out from Inner Ground Gate. The project study of Outer Ground Gate is ongoing.
This gate called ‘Conquest Gate’ as Orhan Bey and his troop entered in Bursa in 6th April 1326. It is also called ‘Spring Gate’ or ‘Water Gate’ because there are number of spring water from Uludağ in front of this gate. There used to be Pınarbaşı Mevlevi House, Uzbek Lodge, Kalender House and coffee houses across the Conquest Gate. Furthermore here was the festival area for Burs people. The restoration process was started by Osmangazi Municipality in 2005 and finished in 2006. Overarching watchtower and water storage below it, which was near the gate, were renewed. Decreasing the elevation, the Conquest Gate, which was below the ground was exposed.
DUNGEON GATE (BAB-I SİCN)
It is on the southwest part of Bursa Hisar district. The other name of the gate is Bab-ı Sicn. Here used to be a dungeon during the Ottomans so that it was called in this way. Some parts of the dungeon cell are still standing. It is told that there had been a wellhole for prisoners of severe punishment. The four towers, which are on the east part of the gate are the strongest part of the Bursa walls.
THERMAL SPRING GATE
The fifth gate toward Muradiye is on the west of the Hisar. It was in front of Yıldız Kahve (the Coffee House) and along the street from State Hospital to Muradiye. Today the gate is not standing but the walls around it are there. People that are going to thermal spring from Hisar were using this gate so it was called Thermal Spring Gate. This street is actively in use.
BURSA BEY PALACE
Since Byzantium era, there used to be a palace in Inner Castle (now called as Orduevi) in Bursa Hisar walls. These walls still exist but limited with Orduevi (military club). While preparation of Bursa map in 1861, some parts of this palace were there. Even the plan of this palace was drawn. According to the plan, the dimension of the palace was 150×110 m. There were a large garden and a complex of buildings in İçkale (Inner Castle). The part with strong walls on the northern skirts on İçkale should be the old castle. Moreover the square building in the backyard should be the summerhouse. It is assumed that the “L” shaped buildings in the entrance were for the usage of gardeners, security and servants. The walls of the palace were fortified with 17 towers. There might be a palace for ‘tekfur’ (the Governor of Byzantium) when Bursa was conquered by Ottomans. The historical resources point out that after the conquest, Orhan Bey had yard and harem sections and also the wedding ceremony of ‘Yıldırım’ (Sultan Bâyezid I.) was held in this palace. In 1840, Jules Laurens, the painter, drew the engraving of the entrance of İçkale. There are two fountains in both sides of the gate in this engraving. There are two “U” shaped towers in both side of the gate like in İznik. The upper part of the gate was fortified with brick arches. In there enterance there are two niches in both sides of the gate. There is also a relief with lion symbols in the entrance. Above this in the both side of the gate there are two one-headed eagle motifs. Beside there are brick ornaments of sun disc shape as there is in Orhan Mosque and Old Municipal Building.
The location of five main gates and walls are as follows: The Sultanate Gate is on the top of the wat to Bey Palace. The place, where Tophane, Ordu Evi and Tophane Vocational High School are located, is standing as a natural set until Yıldız Kahve. The Thermal Spring Gate is in front of Yıldız Kahve. The walls continue until Dungeon Gate, in where today the Administration of Alaaddin Neighbouhood (literaly called ‘Muhtarlık’) exists. As defence is not easy in the plain field between Dungeon Gate and Ground Gate, there is also an outer wall as well as inner wall. The strongest walls are positioned in this section. The forth gate is Conquest Gate (Water Gate) stands in front of Pınarbaşı. The Ground Gate is in where Üftâde (a saint in the history) Complex is.
It is possible to observe the maintanence and different construction styles in various times. They are mostly covered with “horasan” mosters and rubble stone-embedded layers. The current walls are also generally made of “horasan” moster and rubbled stone-embedded layers as during the time covering layers had exfoliated or demolished.
There are two towers, one is circle shape and the other is rectangular planned, down in the Sultanate Gate along the Osmangazi Street that goes to Çakırhamam. Collected materials are widely used here betweenthe Sultanate Gate and the rectangular-planned tower. A large postement, crossbeam parts and various architectural materials were also used in the renewal of the walls although pieces of widely pillar wheels and sarcophagus girlands were in use. There is a relief of Bukranion on one of the pillar wheels, which is probably an altar.
The front line of the rectangular tower is probably the unique part in the former restorations that preserve the originality from Hellenistic era. Here, big blocks of stones were smoothly cut and built on the main rock. Usage of collected materials and rubble stones can be observed when going up. A soil brick embedded band is in the middle of the tower. Smaller pieces of stones were used in the upper parts.
Circle-planned tower was also built with big blocks of stones. But collected materials from Roman era were more intensively used. A number of postements and various architectural materials were used in this tower. There are traces of maintanence and sets between two towers belong to late eras.
In the Üftâde Mosque region, “horasan” moster and rubble stone-embedded walls from late eras is observed. The original wall line is in front of these walls.
There is a tower along with Yokuş Street between Üftâde Mosque and Ground Gate. “Horasan” moster and rubble stones were mostly used in this tower. Epigraphic pieces and block stones as collected materials were arranged in lines.
The inner and outer walls that continue from Ground Gate to BUSKİ (Bursa Water and Sewerage Administration) were restored in similar years. Inner walls draw attention with its collected stones. These stones was used in gymnasium, forum, etc. that had been destroyed because of different reasons and that then Bythinian Governor Plinius (98-117 A.D.) had built, and also reused for the maintanence and fortification of the walls (a stone with a wrestler motif, stairs, ornaments, volut pieces, architrave, etc).
When entering in Ground Gate and going alongside Kaleboyu Street, there is the secondary soil brick-arching gate. The walls could only be protected in parts among buildings. There are buildings in the inner part of the soil brick-arching secondary gate. As the gap between houses and the surface of the walls are too narrow, no works could be undertaken here. There is also one more gate between this secondary gate and the Conquest Gate. There are towers in both sides of this gate.
A part of the walls between Ground Gata and Conquest Gate, in the yard of BUSKI storage and Osmangazi Primary School were protected. During the Ottoman era, triange-shaped towers adherent to the outer walls were built.
This section from the Ground Gate was restored by Osmangazi Municipality in 2007-2008.
In the crossroad of Kaleboyu Street and Güranlı Road, acroos the Güranlı Tomb, inner walls can be seen and then disappeared behind the buildings.
Starting from the Conquest Gate, the outer surface of inner wall appears between inner and outer walls in Kalebahçe Road. There is a 300 m. non-stop line from here to Dungeon Gate. Despite the maintanence works from different times along with this long line, the constrcutnio technique is still coherent. The stones were built in a line and an overlaying section was built on this part. The back of the wall was fortified with “horasan” moster and rubble stone. This kind of construction technique is more economic both interms of financial aspect and time-management. Overlaying parts are in a better situation in Dungeon Gate section.
Collected materials were also used intensively between the Conquest and the Dungeon Gate. Two plaster captions with cross relief were next to next around the Conquest Gate. A postement in the ground elevation, a corner stone with ornamented to a pediment and pillar wheel in different sizes are observed on the way to Dungeon Gate. There are collected materials in different sizes that theirs functions cannot be perceived around the Dungeon Gate.
Buildings from Hellenistic and Roman Era in the middle age and buildings from the Byzantium after the conquest of the city were used as construction material. This enables us to observe different systems. Therefore it is recommended that in principle all sections should be restored in the similar technique and type of materials.
Especially in the walls alongside Osmangazi Street, the usage of collected materials from Roman and Byzantium Era has distinguished to the walls. Walls that are considered as one of the most important monumental values of Bursa have tended to disappear because of implementations. The restoration process of the walls has started in 2005 by Osmangazi Municipality, and the starting point was chosen as the Sultanate Gate and Osmangazi Street and these works continued in the Conquest Gate and Ground Gate. Some parts of the walls in Yokuş Street near Ground Gate and the tower has restored, and project studies in Dungeon Gate has finished. The restoration works of the walls and the gates has been undertaken by Metropolitan Municipality Bursa and project studies of all walls are ongoing.
These walls exhibit Bythinian, Roman and Ottoman civilizations and should be considered as ‘World Cultural Heritage’. Walls are the symbols of the cities and therefore the works that we have undertaken are more important today.