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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Green Mosque, Bursa

Yeşil Cami

gorgeous green tiles of Yeşil Türbe
Gorgeous Green
Green Mosque, Yeşil Cami, Yeşil Türbe, Bursa, Turkey, Ottoman houseToday was our big travel day but will we make it to Yeşil Cami in Bursa?  Will we learn why the Green Mosque is in Bursa?  First we had to have our Trial by Tire.  We had to experience İstanbul traffic from behind the wheel.  Did I mention that in Turkey “lanes are just a suggestion”?  This was followed by Trial by Signage – or lack thereof.

Note that when you click on a photo (only in a post) it starts a slide show of those photos.  The main advantage is that the photos are shown much larger.  

Getting out of Taksim

After another sumptuous breakfast, Sirkeci Mansion called a taxi for us to go to Hertz at Taksim Square, which cost TRY 20.  We left at 09:00 h and at least six staff came out the door waving us goodbye!!!  It was a royal send-off.  I wish I had taken a picture but the taxi was waiting.

The Hertz people were not that friendly; very business-like.  When I asked directions for Bursa they said just go straight up their street then follow the blue signs.  But there were no signs, blue or green. Their road led us back west across the bridge to Sultanahmet.  Then we went the wrong way heading north up the Golden Horn.  Now it was trial by fire – I mean tire – experiencing first hand driving in Istanbul.  Oh, did I mention the lack of street and direction signs in Istanbul?

I finally turned around and went further south to the Galata Bridge and make a U-turn.  Since we had travelled to Taksim by tram, I saw a sign for the name that is the last stop of the tram, Kabataş.  It took another half an hour to go 10 km from Galata Bridge.  So at 11:00 h we were finally on our way.

Thanks to Google Maps and tablets, I knew the road to the highway veered left one km after Dolmabahçe Palace. There was still no sign at that intersection saying this way to autostrada (oops, wrong country)!  Doesn’t İstanbul have lots of tourists, even Turkish ones?

It was bumper to bumper until we crossed the amazingly high bridge to Asia and passed through the toll gates.  Tolls are very low in Turkey.  The driving was fine but Turkish drivers cut in or pass with very little room and Istanbul stretches on and on.  Once we passed the Sabiha Gökçen (Asian-side) airport the traffic thinned and it was very easy driving on a modern, six-lane divided expressway.

The Road to Bursa

Even though we did not have connectivity, I had the Google Map of Istanbul to Bursa open and we could follow the big blue dot (our GPS position).  As we reached the end of the Sea of Marmaris, we turned west on D130 to Bursa.  We thought it was the end of expressway driving but the D130 was a six-lane divided highway almost all the way except when driving through some towns.

However, it was the worst day with lots of rain especially as we crossed over a low mountain pass.  It was easy to find our hotel as it was right off this highway as we got into Bursa.  We arrived at 15:45h at the Hampton Hilton, which is very modern.  The young woman at check-in was very helpful and gave us suggestions that were definitely worthwhile.  Our room was very plush and had a coach and chair.  The breakfast was extensive and we sat in a sun-filled part of the dining area.  It was the most expensive place of our trip at TRY 222 per night.  In our research, Bursa hotels are more expensive and the cheaper Osmangazi hotels had significant “terrible” ratings with lots of bad reviews.

The Road to Heaven

carving in stone on Yeşil Cami's  exterior
Yeşil Cami
To make the most of the day, we wanted to see Yeşil Mosque and tombs.  As I was driving (back and forth), I missed the turn three times but was able to go down another street by watching where the blue dot was on our tablet.  Once again there are no signs for what is one of the main tourist sights of the city, but we were able to find it.

Yeşil Cami (Green Mosque) is as much blue as it is green.  There are a few walls covered in blue-green tiles but the semi-circular tympana over the doors are blue tiles.  There is one side room that is beautifully tiled with patterns in a myriad of colours.  The mosque is very understated and, best of all, there are hardly any people.  Also notice the decorative carved marble on the exterior.  The mosque is on a hill with some nice views as well as some nice pastel-coloured homes.  Up some stairs across from the Green Mosque is the Green Tombs. 

gorgeous turquoise tiles of Yeşil Türbe
Green Tombs
It is really Yeşil Türbe (tombs) that blew us away and is the must-see.  The exterior of the mausoleum is clad with green-blue tiles that give it its name.  Again the tiles inside are really turquoise except for the gorgeous emerald green tiles around the doorway. 

tiled mihrab in Yeşil Türbe
Green-Gold Mihrab
Green is the colour associated to Islam. Heaven is described as containing green carpets and green silk garments.  Perhaps this is related to Islam's origin in a desert country with little green.  The lower half of the walls is lined with exquisite turquoise tiles.  The inlaid front doors are carved in a rich, dark wood.

Finally we went to eat supper at Iskender Kebab.  Living here in Bursa, Iskender invented the gyro machine and the döner made with it.  We ate a lot but we had missed lunch.  Again I was able to find the restaurant street as well as the way back to the Hamptons.

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