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World Heritage Convention

Decision 38 COM 8B.37
Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC-14/38.COM/8B and WHC-14/38.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Inscribes Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (i), (ii), (iv) and (vi);
  3. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value :

    Brief synthesis

    Located on the slopes of Uludağ Mountain (Olympus Mountain of the Bithynians) in the north-western part of Turkey, Bursa and Cumalikizik represent a unique planning methodology for the fast creation of a capital city and Sultans' seat, out of a Byzantine fortress. 

    In the process of the Ottomans’ becoming an Empire, Bursa became the first city, the first capital which was defined by kulliyes and villages, in the context of waqf system (public charity foundation system) shaped according to early Ottoman architectural traditions. 

    While the Ottoman Bursa was being founded, the most important focal points of Bursa, mostly on hills, were identified and the five sultan (Orhan Ghazi, Murad I, Yildirim Bayezid, Celebi Mehmed, Murad II) kulliyes consisting of public buildings such as mosques, madrasahs, hamams, public kitchens and tombs were constructed in these areas. These kulliyes each being a center with social, cultural, religious and educational functions, also determined the boundaries of the city. Houses were constructed according to the location of the kulliyes, and within the course of time these kulliyes were surrounded by neighbourhoods. In the context of the waqf system, the aim of Cumalikizik as a waqf village, meaning that it permanently belonged to an institution (a kulliye), was to provide income for Orhan Ghazi Kulliye, as stated in historical documents.

     The relationship of the five sultan kulliyes, one of which constitutes the core of the city’s commercial centre, and Cumalıkızık which is the best preserved waqf village in Bursa, represent a unique city planning methodology. This methodology (system) developed during the foundation of the first Ottoman capital in early 14th century to the middle of the 15th century, was later used to expand existing cities. 

    Criterion (i): Bursa was created and managed by the first Ottoman sultans, through an innovative and ingenious system, combining an unprecedented “town planning” process. Using the semi-religious brotherhood organizations called Ahi to run commercial life, and thus economy, making the best use of the public charity foundation system, the Waqf, thus society and management, together with the Kulliyes (nuclei providing all public services as infrastructure built prior to the creation of neighbourhoods) and villages, was an ingenious method for the fast establishment of a vivid, sustainable new capital of one of the most important empires of the world. 

    Almost all early 14th century attributes, components of the Kulliyes and of the Khans and Bazaar Area still exist, most of them still serving the same, original functions. The city has grown around them, and they are still the centres of their neighbourhoods.

    Criterion (ii): Bursa has been created as a new town, for non-urban population, to become a capital city. To create the town, centers with social, religious and commercial functions were built, fully reflecting the values of the society and the values it accepted from its neighbours, during long years of migration from central Asia to the West. Bursa was created by a religious Moslem society, carrying the values of Islam to the West, into the still existing Christian Byzantine Empire and into Europe. The best and obvious presentation of these ideas is through mosques, medreses (public religious schools) and public baths built in Bursa in the 14th and 15th centuries, in each neighbourhood centre (kulliye).

     Architectural traditions are partly local creation (like the inverted T plan mosques), but they bear Byzantine, Seljuk, Arab, Persian and other influences. These are represented by building technology, decorations, mausolea construction, technical features (water installations, bathing), typology of buildings (khans, bazaars, bedesten) and others.

     Criterion (iv): Bursa-Cumalikizik illustrate together, through individual buildings (khans, bedesten, mosques, medreses, tombs, hamams, and houses) and ensembles (kulliyes and village) a significant stage in human history, by being the first capital and seat of the Ottoman Sultans, rulers of an Empire, covering Western Asia from Anatolia to Yemen, parts of Europe and North Africa, for hundreds of years. This history has left its important traces in the architecture and culture of all of these countries until our time.

     While individual architectural components in Bursa can be considered as outstanding examples of architectural type, this criterion is met through the ensembles, created by these components.

     Criterion (vi): The first Ottoman Sultans and their society were in the 14th century the leaders of the Moslem world, facing the declining historic centre of the big Eastern Christian society. Bursa, being their first capital, symbolizes more than any other place, the introduction of Moslem ideas, philosophy, architecture, literature, Eastern non-tangible traditions (not necessarily religious) to Europe and to the West.

     Creation of all state institutions in Bursa, meant the creation of the Nation, the State and later the Empire.


    The attributes embodying outstanding universal value are mostly present within the legally protected sites. The waqf system brought about a unique relation between kulliyes, commercial centre (Khans Area) and villages which constituted the urban layout of the city. All the components parts of the property have maintained their tangible and intangible values. 

    Buildings in the Khans Area, which developed around Emir Khan (a part of the Orhan Ghazi Kulliye) in the historical commercial axis, still preserve the integrity of their forms and materials, and also their original commercial functions at present. However, Pirinç Han and Kapan Han were partially harmed due to the construction of Hamidiye Street and Saray Street, respectively, during construction activities in the 19th century.

     Kulliyes, which are the most important component of the urbanization model applied consciously by the Ottomans, still exist at present, together with the neighbourhoods developed around them as a natural result of their public functions starting from the day of their establishment.

     Furthermore, Cumalıkızık village, with unique examples of civil architecture and its villagers who have attended to these buildings, has sustained its rural life.


    The Khans Area that incorporates the first kulliye in its core carries the tradesmen culture of the Ottoman era to date. In the meantime, it enables us to experience the Ottoman commercial district spatially, enriched with traditional rituals such as first sale of the day, bargaining, master-apprentice relations, and neighbourliness among tradesmen. The commercial axis of the Khans Area has been shaped based on the caravan route of the Ottoman era. According to the Suphi Bey map of Bursa (1862), which illustrated the oldest attainable urban texture, the majority of the mentioned buildings remain at present. The Khans in the area are two-storied, have square or rectangular plans with courtyards surrounded by units, and maintain their existence with these forms and plan properties. Such courtyard plan types have been effective for khans to sustain their commercial functions at present. As a result of the dynamic commercial life in the bazaars and markets, the Khans Area has always been the centre of the city. Reflecting the importance of this area as the centre of the city, the first Town Hall in Turkey was built in the 19th century on the land, where the madrasah and public kitchen of the Orhan Kulliye was once located. This building still keeps its municipal function.

     Kulliyes are still focal points meeting the social, cultural and religious needs of the inhabitants, parallel with their original public functions, and reflect the Ottoman characteristics of Bursa.

     What is more, the village of Cumalıkızık is still the same in terms of its residential pattern, agricultural fields and general setting. Cumalıkızık, which is one of the best preserved early Ottoman waqf villages, has maintained its authenticity, traditional life style and original land uses.

     Protection and Management requirements           

    All the component parts are protected under the provisions of the Law for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage (the Act Numbered 2863). This is the main law related with preservation in Turkey. The buildings which were originally waqf property in core areas, are under the responsibility of the Regional Directorate of Foundations at present. All projects and applications to be conducted related to waqf property must be submitted to the Regional Directorate of Foundations for permission. In addition, 1/1000 scaled preservation plans are in place for all areas located within core areas. Projects and applications related with such buildings must obtain approval from Bursa Cultural Assets Regional Conservation Board.

     Protecting, preserving and utilizing the historical pattern effectively as a whole with its tangible and intangible values, and at the same time meeting the needs of change can only be possible by creating public awareness, in which all relevant and authorized people, institutions and bodies participate. With this purpose, Bursa and Cumalıkızık Management Plan was prepared benefiting from the knowledge and experience of all stakeholders in the sites.

     The management plan was prepared by Bursa Site Management Unit, which is an affiliate of Bursa Metropolitan Municipality, in accordance with the Supplement-2 of the Act Numbered 2863 (Regulation on Site Management). The Management Plan was approved by the Coordination and Supervision Board in a process strengthened with the contributions of the Advisory Board.

    Approved Management Plan plays an important role in directing the potential of the city in the right direction.

  4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to augmenting the monitoring indicators to allow for judgment of changes in state of conservation and requests the State Party to submit them to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2015.
Decision Code
38 COM 8B.37
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties 1
Report of the Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session (Doha, 2014)
Context of Decision