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Bursa History, Turkey

Bursa, like the rest of Turkey, has a multicultural history that reflects the Empires and nations that ruled it. Bursa was founded on the location of an earlier settlement, Cius. However, the Bithynian king Prusias I changed the name to Prusa, in his own honor in 202 BC.

What made Bursa both prosperous and different from other ancient Turkish cities was its location on the famed Silk Road, the trade route that connected Xi'an,China, at its eastern end, to several cities in the West. This important route allowed caravans to travel between Eastern and Western cities, primarily Rome, to exchange products and goods. Marco Polo travelled the Silk Road to China and was endlessly imitated by merchant caravans. There were several  arteries that led from Anatolia to various Western cities; the route to Istanbul branched at Erzurum through Ankara and Bursa before reaching the capital. 

Many cities along this important trade and travel route prospered by establishing Inns and stations to feed and house travelers and their beasts of burden, horses, donkeys and camels However, Bursa played an even more important role than being just a way station. Raw silk was brought here from China and Iran, and Bursa's craftspeople, already skilled in producing yarn and weaving textiles began a silk industry that was to produce exotic yardage, garments rugs and tapestries that became sought after by the Royalty and wealthy Merchants. Thus, Bursa became an important export city of its own products, making it a wealthy city that also served as the capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1326 until 1365.

It produced garments, pillows, rugs and other silk products, primarily for the Palace but for other nobility as well. Not just the material but also the fine handwork made these works of art.

Aside from the Silk Road and the changes in rulers, Bursa's history was shaped by the geological fault that undercuts Turkey. The city had to rebuild after several earthquakes and subsequent fires, the last episode occurring in 1885. This periodic rebuilding of the city resulted in Bursa being an interesting collage of architectural styles that range from the ancient, to Belle Epoch to contemporary.  

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