Ottoman-era ‘hans’ draw tourists to Turkey’s Bursa
An Ottoman-era district full of “hans” (inns) in northwestern Turkey has been attracting local and foreign visitors, especially since the surrounding area was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014.
A han is an Ottoman building that has a hotel, stable, storage depot and wholesale selling points. There is hardly any difference between a han and a caravanserai except for the first being urban and the latter being situated on rural roads and highways between urban settlements.
The Hanlar area in the city of Bursa has been known as “the heart of commerce” for seven centuries.
The first Ottoman hans were built in Bursa when the city was the capital of the Ottoman state.
They were named after the commodity that was sold within and were probably under the guild that was involved. So the Koza Han, the Cocoon Han in English, the İpek Han, the Silk Han in English, and the Pirinç Han, the Rice Han in English, are a few of them in the district.
The district, spanning some 450 acres, embodies the key functions of economic organization of Bursa, including 16 hans, all of which gave the place its name. The whole area still hosts more than 4,000 shops.
The district is located within “Bursa and Cumalıkızık: The Birth Region of the Ottoman Empire,” which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The whole area has six component sites, including commercial districts of hans, kulliyes (religious institutions) including mosques, religious schools, public baths and a kitchen for the poor, as well as the tomb of Orhan Ghazi, the founder of the Ottoman state, according to UNESCO’s website.
One component outside the historic center of Bursa is the village of Cumalıkızık, which demonstrates the lifestyle in the once-burgeoning Ottoman Empire.
10 million tourists
The number of local and foreign tourists visiting hans has continuously been increasing since the area was added to the UNESCO list, Muhsin Özyıldırım, the head of the Bursa Historical Bazaar and Hans Union, told state-run Anadolu Agency.
Last year, nearly three million tourists visited Bursa, but 10 million is the goal, he added.
A shopkeeper from the Koza Han said tourists have been flocking to their shops since 2014.
“We believe more will visit our district in the coming years,” said Mustafa Güngör, who has been running a business in the silk sector for the last 30 years. Bursa was a center for the silk sector during the Ottoman era, he said.
“There are nearly 100 shops only in our han selling silks,” he added.