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Bursa (historically also known as Prusa) is a city in northwestern Turkey and the seat of Bursa Province. It is Turkey's fourth largest city, as well as one of the most industrialized and culturally charged metropolitan centers in the country.
Bursa is settled on the northwestern slopes of Mount Uludağ in the southern Marmara Region. It is bordered by the Sea of Marmara and Yalova to the north; Kocaeli and Sakarya to the northeast; Bilecik to the east; and Kütahya and Balıkesir to the south.
The earliest known site at this location was Cius, which Philip V of Macedonia granted to the Bithynian king Prusias I in 202 BC, for his help against Pergamum and Heraclea Pontica (modern Karadeniz Ereğli). Prusias renamed the city after himself, as Prusa.
Prusa evolved into one of the largest cities of Mysia and retained its importance for the region throughout the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. Its strategic location on the westernmost end of the famous Silk Road ensured Prusa to remain as one of the largest centers of silk trade throughout the Medieval period.
Bursa became the first major capital city of the early Ottoman Empire following its capture from the Byzantines in 1326. As a result, the city witnessed a considerable amount of urban growth throughout the 14th century. After conquering Edirne (Adrianople) in 1365 the Ottomans turned it into a joint capital city for governing their European realms, but Bursa remained the most important Anatolian administrative and commercial center even after it lost its status as the sole Ottoman capital. The Ottoman sultan Bayezid I built the Bayezid Külliyesi (Bayezid I theological complex) in Bursa between 1390 and 1395 and the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) between 1396 and 1400.
During the Ottoman period, Bursa continued to be the source of most royal silk products. Aside from the local silk production, the city imported raw silk from Iran, and occasionally from China, and was the main production center for the kaftans, pillows, embroidery and other silk products for the Ottoman palaces until the 17th century.
Another traditional artisanship in the city, among many others, is knife production, which still continues today. Historically, the city was a center for the production of horse carriages during the Ottoman period. In the latter half of the 20th century, Bursa became the largest center of motor vehicle production in Turkey.
The city is frequently cited as "Yeşil Bursa" (meaning "Green Bursa") in a reference to the parks and gardens located across its urban tissue, as well as to the vast forests in rich variety that extend in its surrounding region. The city is synonymous with Mount Uludağ which towers behind its core and which is also a famous ski resort. The mausoleums of early Ottoman sultans are located in Bursa and the numerous edifices built throughout the Ottoman period constitute the city's main landmarks. The surrounding fertile plain, its thermal baths, several interesting museums, notably a rich museum of archaeology, and a rather orderly urban growth are further principal elements that complete Bursa's overall picture.
Karagöz and Hacivat shadow play characters were historic personalities who lived and are buried in Bursa. Bursa is also home to some of the most famous Turkish dishes, especially candied chestnuts and İskender kebap. Its peaches are also well-renowned. Among its depending district centers, İznik, historic Nicaea, is especially notable for its long history and important edifices. Bursa is home to the Uludağ University, and its population attains one of the highest overall levels of education in Turkey. The city has traditionally been a pole of attraction, and was a major center for refugees from various ethnic backgrounds who immigrated to Anatolia from the Balkans during the loss of the Ottoman territories in Europe between the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ulu Cami is the largest mosque in Bursa and a landmark of early Ottoman architecture, which carried many elements from the Seljuk architecture. Ordered by Sultan Bayezid I, the mosque was designed and built by architect Ali Neccar in 1396–1400. It is a large and rectangular building, with a total of twenty domes that are arranged in four rows of five, and are supported by twelve columns. Supposedly the twenty domes were built instead of the twenty separate mosques which Sultan Bayezid I had promised for winning the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396. The mosque has two minarets.
Inside the mosque there are 192 monumental wall inscriptions written by the famous calligraphers of that period. There is also a fountain (şadırvan) where worshipers can perform ritual ablutions before prayer; the dome over the şadırvan is capped by a skylight which creates a soft, serene light below; thus playing an important role in the illumination of the large building.
The horizontally spacious and dimly lit interior is designed to feel peaceful and contemplative. The subdivisions of space formed by multiple domes and pillars create a sense of privacy and even intimacy. This atmosphere contrasts with the later Ottoman mosques (see for example the works of Suleiman the Magnificent's chief architect Sinan.) The mosques that were built after the conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and influenced by the design of the 6th century Byzantine basilica of Hagia Sophia, had increasingly elevated and large central domes, which create a vertical emphasis that is intended to be more overwhelming; in order to convey the divine power of Allah, the majesty of the Ottoman Sultan, and the governmental authority of the Ottoman State.