The Old Silk Market of Bursa may not be the heart of Turkey’s silk trade anymore, but it’s certainly kept its charm, and it’s one of the most visited sites in Bursa.
- Courtyard of the Old Silk Market in Bursa, Turkey.
Bursa is located just a few hours away from Turkey’s capital, Istanbul. It is nowadays a large bustling city, but not on the same scale as Istanbul. It’s also very popular among tourists who travel to the area to visit a number of famous attractions, including the “Mountain of Monks” which is Turkey’s tallest mountain, and of course the Old Silk Market in Bursa.
A Brief History The Old Silk Market In Bursa
Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and it retained that status from 1326 to 1365. Today it is the country’s fourth largest city in terms of population. It has become the heart of a number of industries, including the country’s automotive industry.
In Turkish, the city is known as Green Bursa because of its many parks and gardens, and also because of its location. Unfortunately, continued growth and expansion has inevitably resulted in the loss of large swaths of forested areas, but maybe not quite as much as one would expect.
The Silk Capital of the World
Whether the Old Silk Market in Bursa was in fact ever the silk capital of the world is debatable, although it certainly seems to have been. It was nonetheless Turkey’s silk capital. Even silk that wasn’t originally from Bursa would be transported to the city where it would traded; graded and so on.
Nearly all silk would at some point pass through the Old Silk Market in Bursa which was home to dozens of caravanserais known as Hans. Even as late as the 1960s one would see people transporting countless sacks filled with silkworm cocoons to the Koza (cocoon) Han, and then the bartering and the haggling would begin between the farmers; traders and brokers.
Today; the Old Silk Market in Bursa no longer has a silk exchange, and it’s a far cry from its former self, but it’s definitely still a place you’d want to visit. In fact, one could even say the silk market is better now than it was all those years ago, at least from a tourist’s point of view.
Many of the old original caravanserais are still there, including the charming old Koza Han which was originally built in 1451. These days, the ground floor level of the Koza Han has been tastefully turned into a lovely tea garden with plenty of seating available.
A lot of locals meet up with friends for a chat over a cup of tea or coffee, while some enjoy the ambience while they read a book. Most tourists on the other hand climb the spectacular flight of stairs to tour the upper floor gallery and its many shops that sell every sort of silk product imaginable.
All That Glitters Is Not Gold
No matter what you’re looking for, and no matter what sort of taste you have, if it’s made from silk, you’ll find it at the Old Silk Market in Bursa. Just remember though, not all the silk on sale in the shops comes from Bursa. A lot of it has been brought in from outside Bursa.
Sadly, you will also come across goods that are not made from 100% pure silk, and some which are made entirely out of synthetic materials. As a general rule, pay attention to prices since pure silk almost always costs more. Some people say they can feel the difference, but in truth, it’s not very likely, at least not for someone who isn’t an expert.
As with virtually all markets and bazaars, traders are actually expecting you to haggle for a better price. A lot of western tourists feel uncomfortable when they have to haggle, so they simply pay the first price they’re given. There’s really no need because haggling can be a lot of fun, even if you don’t really need a better price.