Bursa is so jampacked with historic structures that it would be impossible to list them all here. In addition to the major sites named below, be sure to wander through the marketplace, spread out among open-air and covered streets. Hans are traditionally double-storied arcaded buildings with a central courtyard, usually occupied by an ornate fountain or pool or raised mescit (a small mosque). The hans are still used for trade and make lovely shaded retreats to take coffee outdoors and poke amid the local merchandise. The Fidan Han dates to the 15th century and has a central pool topped by a mescit. The Pirinç Han (closed) was constructed by Beyazit II to earn the revenue necessary to cover the expenses of his mosque and soup kitchen in Istanbul. The Ipek Han is the largest han in Bursa and contains an octagonal mescit in the center of the courtyard. The revenue from this han was used to pay for the construction of the Yesil Mosque. The courtyard of Emir Han has a graceful marble pool with exterior faucets to allow for ablutions.

Water, Water Everywhere: Turkey's Mineral Springs

A geologic oddity-cum-spa treat with which Turkey is uncommonly blessed is the mineral spring. Thermal baths flow freely throughout the countryside and, depending on the properties and temperature of the water, are reputed to address such varied ailments as obesity, digestive problems, rheumatism, and urological disorders. Soaking in the springs and covering yourself with mineral-rich mud are some of the country's lesser-known pleasures. You can experience the thermal springs enclosed in pamper-me surroundings or in humble, out-of-the-way sites.


In Bursa, history and pampering go hand in hand, and no historical pilgrimage to this city would be complete without a long soak in a mineral-rich thermal pool. The Kervansaray Termal Hotel's 700-year-old thermal bath takes advantage of the Eski Kaplica thermal spring, an ancient source used as far back as Roman times. The bath was built in grand Ottoman style by Sultan Murat I in 1389, and a soak here (7am-11pm) is made all the more satisfying by its multiple domes and old stonemasonry. The price of admission to the thermal baths is 20TL for women and 24TL for men. Add 15TL each for massage and kese.

No one knows who originally occupied the Yeni Kaplica hamam, Kukurtlu Mah. Yeni Kaplica Cad. 6 (tel. 0224/236-6968; 11TL men's entrance, 10TL women's entrance; 12TL sloughing, 15TL massage), built in 1555 and reconstructed for Süleyman the Magnificent by Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasa. The hamam (or at least the men's side) still displays its original opulence, allowing wide-eyed tourists to feel like Julius Caesar for a day.

Separated from the Yeni Kaplica building by a tea garden is the less-impressive Kaynarca, Yeni Kaplica Cad. 8 (tel. 0224/236-6955; 10TL women's entrance, 11TL men's entrance; massage and kese are 15TL and 10TL, respectively), essentially a mud pit with locker rooms. They also offer an oil massage, 30 minutes of skin-hydrating, slippery bliss (25TL). Kara Mustafa Pasa Thermal Bath, Mudanya Cad. 10 (tel. 0224/236-6956), was left over from the Byzantine era and was actually the first building on the site. There are two sections, including one where you can ooze yourself into a gravelike tile ditch full of scorching hot mud (avoid wearing a white bathing suit for this). There are also the regular bath facilities and cubicles for changing and resting. Kara Mustafa also has rudimentary hotel accommodations. Granted, it's all rather gritty, but thoroughly worth the experience. The more luxurious Çelik Palas Hotel thermal pool rests beneath a single multiple-sky-lit dome; the hotel's renovation will certainly add to its cachet.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.