The Thermal Baths in Bursa and Çekirge

The Thermal Baths in Bursa and Çekirge

On the west side of Bursa and in the village of Çekirge are hot spring baths containing sulfur and iron, whose fame has spread throughout the East. There is a total of six and the source of all of them is Mt. Olympus. The Large and Small Sulfurous and Yeni and Kaynarca thermal springs contain sulfur and their temperature is more than 80° C. The other two, Eski and Kara Mustafa baths, contain no sulfur and their temperature varies between 38°-57°. All the houses and hotels in Çekirge have hot springs water available.

The sources of the hot springs, known in ancient times as “Basilika,” are very likely remnants of the Roman period when construction of the hot springs was fırst begun.  But, all these edifices have-like the Byzantine empire vanished.  Sultan Murad I had a thermal bath erected in Bursa, with re-used construction materials. Besides the bath, he also had the fırst mosque constructed on the premises of which his own tomb is located.  The baths today are now used mainly by the Turks, especially from April to June and in the months of August and September.

After following the road on the west side of the city that goes to Çekirge for seven minutes, you enter a secondary road on the right and then turning to the left immediately in four minutes you will reach the Great and Small Sulfurous baths (Kükürtlü) in the locale called Bademli.

Almost all bathing facilities in the East exhibit the same characteristics. A largish area is found at the entrance, where one can dress and undress, in the center of which is a marble basin.  Available for the bath are rooms of varying size, pools in the rooms which are cleaned every afternoon, sweating compartments and small rooms for relaxation and refreshment after the bath, which are a little better furnished. All rooms are domed and covered with glass to obtain the sunlight.

When you continue northward on the secondary road, you will arrive in a few minutes at the prettiest of the resorts, that of Yeni Thermal Springs.  According to the inscription at the entrance, it was built by Rüstem Pasha, the grand vizir of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent.  The structure in terms of both its architectural features and marbles and glazed tiles is very attractive. The dressing room area and resting rooms are at the front of the building beneath two domes; there are also side rooms, a hot section and, at the back beneath a dome, a pool with a radius of 8 meters.  On the right (east) side of the Yeni Thermal Springs Bath is situated Kaynarca Thermal Springs Bath, a small “women’s hot springs.”  A little below Kaynarca, on the left, on the other side of the old road, is thermal bath erected by Kara Mustafa Pasha.

The water of these hot springs are rich in magnesium and are crystal clear (which why they are known as “Silver Waters.”)

Once you return to the main road by car in about three minutes, you will pass among the houses and cemetaries on the skirts of the small foothills of Mt. Olympus (The pleasant path that leads up the slope will take you to the Tomb of the Sultan.), and, after traveling about twenty minutes, you will reach a small square at the entrance to Çekirge where shops and cafes are located.  On the north side of the square and somewhat below it, Sultan Murad I built the Eski Thermal Baths, whose architectural style is similar to that of Yeni Thermal Baths, with Byzantine materials. If you travel in a northwest direction from this square, at a somewhat elevated spot, you will encounter the Mosque of Murad I-also known as the Mosque of Gazi Hünkâr-which was built in 1365.