The historic city center of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bursa is home to several great examples of hans (caravanserais). These two-story rectangular buildings with open courtyards, along with the bazaars, seem to be the blood running through Bursa’s veins.
Most of the hans were built in the 15th century for the silk trade. Each one is full of shops selling every kind of good or souvenir you can imagine, usually with at least one café or restaurant in the center.
The most famous of these hans is probably Koza Han (Cocoon Han), which has an entrance on Koza Parkı. Koza Han was built in 1491.
Koza Han had the liveliest atmosphere of all the hans. The center is packed with tables and there were several people shopping in the stores, especially for silk products.
Other hans I visited include Balibey Han; Pirinç Han (Rice Han), built in 1508; İpek Han (Silk Han), built in the 15th century; and Fidan Han (Plant Han), built around 1470. While nice to pop into, none of them, except perhaps Pirinç Han, matched the atmosphere of Koza Han.
The hans don’t stop there. Geyve Han, Emir Han, Apolyont Han, Zeytin Han (Olive Han), and Tuzhan (Salt Han), and the Bedesten are also located in the area.
The hans are connected by a maze of bazaars, the biggest ones being the covered bazaars of Uzun Çarşı (Long Bazaar) and Kapalı Çarşı (Covered Bazaar). They run along one long street.
Next to Ulu Cami there’s also the Havlucular Çarşısı (Towel Maker’s Bazaar), with several different shops, and the Gümüşçüler Çarşısı, which used to be the Şengül Hamamı.
After exploring the covered markets, it’s fun to get lost on the other streets. My favorite is Tuzpazarı (Salt Bazaar). You’ll find all kinds of Turkish specialties along with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and honeycomb. Mixed in with all the action are small mosques, hamams, and other buildings. Personally, I enjoyed exploring the bazaars more at night than during the day!