A view of Cekirge some 50 years ago: Murat Hudavendigar Camii is on the left and Eski Kaplica on the right
We journeyed next to Bursa, a great city with fine bazaars and broad streets, surrounded by orchards and running springs. Outside it are two thermal establishments, one for men and the other for women, to which patients come from the most distant parts.
H. A. R. Gibb - Selection from the Travels of Ibn Battuta in 1325-1354
There are several baths to the west of the town which are very famous, and have always been much frequented; in one called Cara-Mustapha there is a spring of cold water, and another of hot, within the same room.
Richard Pococke - A Description of the East and Some Other Countries - 1745
A small distance from the city, upon the roots of Olympus, are seven hot baths, all of which have their sources in a hill much lower than those which rise immediately behind it. They are of very remote antiquity; and by the Greeks were called Calipsa, by the Romans Basilicae. The most distant is that on the greatest eminence, about two miles off.
James Dallaway - Constantinople Ancient and Modern with Excursions to the Shores of the Islands of the Archipelago and to the Troas - 1797
At Cekirge, a location two miles to the west of the walls, the Romans built baths which made use of local hot springs. These baths were restored by Emperor Justinian. They were probably abandoned in the following centuries until Sultan Murad I built new baths on their foundations in the XIVth century.
Until fifty years ago Cekirge was a peaceful suburb of Bursa with just a few boarding houses in the vicinity of the baths as one can see in a photo placed by municipal authorities on a billboard.
They are all of considerable dimensions; but
the elki capigli, or old bath, is a spacious room with stages raised on
each side, which is succeeded by two smaller, one as a vestibule and
dressing-room, the other with a dome and colonnade of white marble, and a circular basin more than twenty feet in diameter. The
stream is strongly vitriolic, and intolerably oppressive, as confined,
but in the open air confiderably hotter than any mineral waters in
The baths are called Eski (old) to distinguish them from other establishments built at a later period: the actual baths are rather small (they are the buildings on the left side of the photo): the entrance hall consists of two large rooms which are covered with twin domes.
Eski Kaplica: details
The brick decoration of the baths (and that of its modern doors) is based on a rather unusual motif which reminds the viewer of the technique used for making wicker baskets. You may wish to see the brick decoration of some tombs along Via Appia in Rome.
Murat Hudavendigar Camii
Sultan Murad I built a complex (kulliye) near the baths in 1365-1385; in addition to a large mosque it included a medrese (a college for Islamic instruction), a turbe (mausoleum), a zawiya (a Dervish lodge) and an imaret (soup kitchen). Hudavendigar, the title given to Sultan Murat means master in the sense of a skilled/knowledgeable man.
Murat Hudavendigar Camii: details
The mosque was badly damaged by the 1855 earthquake, but it was rebuilt according to the original plan. The fašade has prompted art historians to suggest that a Byzantine or Italian architect was involved in its design. Columns and capitals come from former Roman/Byzantine buildings.
(left) Hatice Sultan Turbe; (right) Kukurtlu (sulfur) Kaplica
Another bath is Culatlow Coplujah (The sulphur bath). Half a mile further is a large bath, called Chekreeh-Cuplejah, which has not so much sulphur in it as the other, and is more frequently drunk, tho'
all the waters are taken inwardly, as well as used for bathing. Pococke
Other hot springs were found by the Ottomans between Cekirge and the Muradiye complex. One of them which contains sulphur is exploited in a University rehabilitation centre which includes baths built by Sultan Bayezid II. Near the baths there is the sultan's mother's turbe (Hatice Sultan).
That called Jeneh-Coplujah (The new spring) is the largest and
most beautiful bath; it is a fine building, a large spring rises in the
middle of it, and two very hot streams run through the room; near it
there is a small bagnio, called The Jews bagnio. Pococke
New (Yeni) baths were built in 1552 not far from the Kukurtlu sulphur spring by order of Rustem Pacha, Grand Vizier of Sultan Suleyman I. The size of the domes is larger than in previous buildings, a sign perhaps that the great architect Mimar Sinan was involved in their design also because its plan is similar to that of Haseki Hurrem Hammam in Constantinople. a known work of the architect.
Returning from Cekirge towards Muradiye one finds a complex consisting of a mosque and two tombs. It is named after Hamza Bey, a commander of Ottoman armies, known for having re-conquered Izmir (Smyrna) in 1425. His career ended in 1461 when Vlad the Impaler, ruler of Wallachia (Southern Romania) defeated him. Hamza Bey was impaled with 20,000 other Turkish prisoners.
Ottoman Houses near Muradiye (left) and the former Jewish quarter (right)
(left) Ataturk Museum; (right) an olive tree presented by Greece in 1999