Constructed by Murad II between 1424 and 1426, this complex includes a mosque, a medrese, a soup kitchen, a bath, and a royal cemetery amid an overgrown garden of roses, magnolias, and cypress trees. Although the entrance to the grounds is open, many of the tombs and even the mosque are locked up, but the idle-yet-earnest ticket-window attendant will catch up with you for a private tour of the grounds, proudly locking and unlocking the royal tombs.

The Murad Pasa Mosque is a typical example of early Ottoman architecture, although the mihrab and minbar are 18th-century baroque. To the right, beginning toward the rear of the grounds, is no ordinary cemetery. The 12 stately tombs serve as the final resting places of not only some of the first sultans, but a sobering number of members of the royal family as well, including Hüma Hatun (mother of Mehmet the Conqueror), Sehzade Ahmed (son of Beyazit II and crown prince), Sultan Murad II, Mustafa (son of Süleyman the Magnificent), and Gülsah Hatun (wife of Mehmet the Conqueror). Because succession rights relied not on heredity but on survival of the fittest, it was standard, even expected, practice for the victorious leader to cover his back by strangling his brothers with a wire cord.

The most recognizable casualty of this practice was the son of Süleyman the Magnificent: Sehzade (Prince) Mustafa, who as object of a plot spun by Roxelana for the succession of her own son, was unjustly murdered at the hands of his father. Ironically, the tomb was built by Selim II, Roxelana's son and successor to the throne.

advertisement

The restored opulence of the tomb's outstanding porcelain tiling radiates hues of teal and red on quartz whose production technique was, until recently, lost. In contrast, the mausoleum of Murad I, son of Orhan and third Ottoman sultan, is elegant in its simplicity. The tomb has a domed central courtyard surrounded by the traditional ambulatory. Upon the request of the sultan, an oculus was designed in the dome to allow the rains to wash over the open tomb, symbolizing his sameness with the plain folk.

After reigning for just 18 days and living the rest of his life in exile, Cem Sultan, the youngest son of Mehmed II, was brought back to Bursa to receive a royal burial in the tomb that had actually been built for Sehzade Mustafa.

The 15th-century medrese, now operating as a clinic, was designed around a central courtyard accessible through vaulted arches at the entrance. No one will bother you if you want to take a quick peek, but the main use for this clinic is as a tuberculosis dispensary, so it might be better to do your admiring from the outside.

advertisement

The Tarihi II Murad Hamami next to the mosque is still in operation, with separate days designated for men and women.