Great Mosque (Ulu Cami)
Hegira 802 / AD 1400
Minbar master: Antepli Abdülaziz oğlu Hacı Mehmed [al-Hajj Muhammad, son of ‘Abd al-‘Aziz of ‘Ayntab].
Sultan Yıldırım Bayezid I (r. 791–805 / 1389–1402).
According to tradition, when the Qaramanid ruler Mehmed Bey besieged Bursa in AH 806 / AD 1412, he piled up firewood around the mosque and tried to burn it down, causing great damage to the cut stone covering the walls. The walls were plastered over to hide the damage, and in 1951–9 the plaster was removed and the wall coverings refurbished.
The mosque is built on a rectangular area oriented east to west and measuring about 55 m x 69 m. There are portals on the east, west and north walls of the mosque, the most splendid of which is the north portal. Each of the walls has two rows of windows. The tympana of the rectangular windows in the bottom row are all of a different design. The east and west corners of the north wall each have a minaret. The minaret adjoining the building in the west corner stands on an octagonal base and has two entrances; one accessed from inside the building and one from the outside, it also has two staircases. Each staircase ascends to the gallery, but the outside staircase also leads to the roof. This minaret has an inscription stating that it was built by Sultan Bayezid I. The minaret in the east corner does not adjoin the building. Its socle is within the stable of the neighbouring Emir Han, suggesting that the minaret was not built at the same time as the mosque.
The prayer hall is divided into 20 bays of equal size by 12 cruciform piers and arches adjoining the walls; each bay is covered by a dome. One of the domes situated in the bays along the axis formed by the north portal and the mihrab is open to the sky; beneath it is a fountain. Despite the fact that there are two rows of windows and that the drums of the domes have openings to let in light, very little natural daylight enters the prayer hall.
The mihrab is in the middle of the qibla wall. The niche is rectangular and its conch is decorated with muqarnas. The decoration of the mihrab was finished on 15 Shawwal 979 / 2 March 1572 by a master named Mehmed and it was commissioned by one, Zeynî Chelebi. The painted and gilded mihrab decoration was executed in AH 1322 / AD 1905.
The decorative woodwork of the minbar, executed in the kündekâri technique, is reminiscent of the arts of the Anatolian Seljuq period. The sides of the minbar feature floral designs carved within geometric motifs, formed between strips of wood. The inscription on the minbar indicates that it was made by Hacı Mehmed of Antep, son of Abdülaziz, in AH 802 / AD 1400, in the period of Sultan Bayezid I.
The preacher's lectern, carved from a single piece of marble, was made in AH 1231 / AD 1816, while the müezzin mahfili (loge for the chanters) on eight wooden columns was made in AH 956 / AD 1549.
The mosque's decoration is found on the north portal, the mihrab, the minbar, and the walls of the prayer hall. The decoration on the north portal and the mihrab consists of carved floral and geometric motifs. The mostly calligraphic decoration on the walls of the prayer hall was made between AH 1192–1357 / AD 1778–1938.
The Great Mosque has the largest prayer hall of all the mosques in Bursa. The lateral rectangular prayer hall is covered with 20 domes of equal size. Its minbar of walnut wood was made in the kündekâri technique, employing no nails or glue, and it is one of the most important examples of woodwork from the Early Ottoman period.
The inscription on the minbar states that the mosque was ordered built by Sultan Bayezid I and that it was completed in AH 802 / AD 1400. The endowment document states that construction began in AH 795 / AD 1396 and was finished in AH 802 / AD 1400.
Ayverdi, E. H., Osmanlı Mi'mârî çağının Menşe'i Osmanlı Mi'mârîsinin İlk Devri Ertuğrul, Osman, Orhan Gaazîler Hüdavendigâr ve Yıldırım Bâyezid 630–805 (1260–1402) [The Origins of Ottoman Architecture, The First Period of Ottoman Architecture, Periods of Ertuğrul, Osman and Orhan Gazis, Hüdavendigar and Yıldırım Bayezid 630–805 (1260–1402)], 2nd edition, Istanbul, 1989.
Baykal, K., Bursa ve Anıtları [Bursa and its Monuments], 2nd edition, Levent, 1982.
Demiralp, Y., Erken Osmanlı Sanatı, Beyliklerin Mirası [Early Ottoman Art, Legacy of the Emirates], Madrid, 1999, pp.109–11.
Gabriel, A., Une Capitale Turque, Brousse, Bursa, Paris, 1958.
Wilde, H., Brussa, Berlin, 1909.
Yekta Demiralp "Great Mosque (Ulu Cami)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2022. 2022. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;16;en
Prepared by: Yekta DemiralpYekta Demiralp
Yekta Demiralp is an assistant professor in the Department of Archaeology and History of Art, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir. He was born in Soğucak, Balıkesir, Turkey in 1959. He graduated from Ankara University, Faculty of Linguistics, History and Geography, Department of Art History in 1980. He worked as a teacher of history of art and then joined the Department of Archaeology and History of Art, Ege University, as an expert. He became a research assistant in the same department in 1988 and an assistant professor in 1997. He participates in Beçin excavations and has published on the history of Turkish architecture and art.
Translation by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions., İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: TR 25