Bursa: a protected treasure

By Victoria Khroundina | May 15, 2013

A Silk Road city a hundred miles south of Istanbul, Bursa has salvaged enough of its fabled beauty to make it well worth exploring. The birthplace of the Ottoman Empire, it is the best place to get an Iskender kebap, even the inspiration for Turkish puppetry (the shadow play characters Karagöz and Hacivat are based on historic personalities who lived in the city). 

Now, a book on Bursa is the latest addition to the ‘Heritage Protecting Cities’ series published by the Foundation for the Protection and Promotion of the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ÇEKÜL). The series aims to collate information on and analyse the Turkish cities which have undergone significant conservation work. It looks into why and how the cultural heritage of a place should be protected, and who should be responsible for it. 

ÇEKÜL was founded in 1990 and is presided over by architect and lecturer, Dr. Metin Sözen (a towering  figure in the field of Turkish architectural conservation who for many years was responsible for some of Istanbul's prized palaces, including Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Yıldız Palace). The Foundation strives to help preserve the built and natural environment of the country by building networks and raising awareness. This, in turn, they hope will add impetus to the conservation movement which really started flourishing in the 1970s with the steps taken to protect the Black Sea town of Safranbolu , which has examples of some of the best preserved Ottoman-era vernacular architecture (Safranbolu has consequently been named a World Heritage site by Unesco in 1994 – though Çekül's finest achievements was the wholesale preservation of a small nearby town of very large kokaks built by  the families of prosperous palace pastry chefs, and birthplace of the diva of the Scala, Leyla Gencer: Yörük Köy, which featured in Cornucopia 47).

The book delves into Bursa's history, culture and architectural wonders, and discusses in detail the endevours that have been made throughout history to protect it. It is the fifth book to be added to the series, joining Sivas, Gaziantep, Birgi, and Mardin

For more on Bursa, Cornucopia 38 is a good place to start. 

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