Draped ribbon-like along the leafy lower slopes of Uludağ, which towers more than 2000m above it, and overlooking the fertile plain of the Nilüfer Çayı, Bursa does more justice to its setting than any other Turkish city apart from İstanbul. Gathered here are some of the finest early Ottoman monuments in the Balkans, set within neighbourhoods that, despite being marooned in masses of concrete, remain among the most appealing in Turkey.
Industrialization over the last four decades, and the quadrupling in population to over a million, mean that the city as a whole is no longer exactly elegant. Silk and textile manufacture, plus patronage of the area's thermal baths by the elite, were for centuries the most important enterprises; they're now outstripped by automobile manufacture (both Renault and Tofa have plants here), canneries and bottlers processing the rich harvest of the plain, and the presence of Uludağ University. Vast numbers of settlers from Artvin province have been attracted by job opportunities at the various factories, while the students provide a necessary leavening in what might otherwise be a uniformly conservative community. Some of this atmosphere derives from Bursa's role as first capital of the Ottoman Empire and burial place of the first six sultans, their piety as well as authority emanating from the mosques, social-welfare foundations and tombs built at their command.