Bursa Palace Garden

 
Catalogue
Ottoman Gardens
City
Bursa
Country
Turkey
Dates
15th century 19th century
Authors
Nurhan Atasoy;
Seyit Ali Kahraman

Description

Bursa was conquered in 1325 by Orhan Gazi and incorporated into the Ottoman state as its capital. As the area within the castle walls was not extensive, it is unlikely that the garden of Bursa Palace was very large. It can be assumed that they made an effort to harmonize the garden with the natural environment of Bursa but did not strive for any special effects. Eyewitnesses confirm that there was simply a green garden with a pool and pavilions.

Betrandon de la Broquière, who visited Bursa at the end of 1442 or the beginning of 1443 during the reign of Orhan Gazi, has this to say about the palace: On the western side of the town was a beautiful castle, rising up like a mountain, in which there were many dwelling places. Here the Sultan had a magnificent palace. There was also a pavilion [harem] used by the Great Turk and his fifty wives. In the garden was a beautiful little lake where the sultan would relax with his wives in a small rowboat whenever he pleased. This is all hearsay as I only saw the outside of the garden (Voyage d'Outremer, 85)

Reinhold Lubenau, who visited Bursa in 1588, describes the palace as follows: The city is built high up in the mountains in the form of a square surrounded by a wall. The city has small, mean houses and narrow streets. The palace, which faces the sunrise, is surrounded by another wall and the gates are kept locked. This palace, which is now in a ruinous condition, is occupied only by many of the ‘Acemioğlan,’ that is, the strongest children of the Christians. A beautiful garden stretches along the walls in the direction of the city. In the middle of this is a square pool made of cut stone. In the middle of the pool is a pretty summer-house built of marble and supported on four marble pillars. It is roofless and the fountain in the center is broken (Beschreibung der Reisen, 76).

Evliya Çelebi states that there were two thousand dwellings and a tall palace of many stories, but that none of these had gardens. He adds, however, that there were several cypress and walnut trees within the castle walls, as well as grapevines.

Even though Bursa Palace was abandoned in later years, military commanders and gardeners were still quartered there. Gardeners were left there to tend the gardens. When Tamerlane’s army came to Bursa, they ransacked and destroyed the palace as well as the city. Even after the palace had been left in sole care of the gardeners, however, princes and some sultans visited to rest; this explains why the palace garden remained beautiful for a long time. Nevertheless, in his memoirs, Jean de Thévenot, who visited Bursa in the middle of the seventeenth century, describes the extensive ruins of Bursa Palace (Voyage du Levant, 51). When Charles Texier visited in the mid-nineteenth century, nothing was left of the garden except for the scattered ruins of garden pavilions and dry water channels (Asie mineure, 12).

 


The text for this entry is adapted from Nurhan Atasoy, Garden for the Sultan, 221–22.

 

Sources

  • Travel Account, 15th century
  • Travel Account, 16th century
  • Travel Account, 17th century