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Strongly associated with Bursa -the first capital of the Ottomans- which contains the most exquisite examples of early Ottoman architecture, Uludağ (Mount Olympus) has always attracted people’s attention since the ancient times and has become the subject of many legends. For centuries people have believed that the gods and goddesses watched the battle of Troy from this vantage point and also that Hercules searched here for Hylas, who had been kidnapped by the nymphs and his bellow being heard over the mountain ridges. During the Byzantine Period the mountain was a refuge for those who wanted to seclude themselves away from daily life and people. Because of its reputation as a place of seclusion it was named the Priests’ Mountain during the Ottoman Period.
Today, renowned as the 'Snow Paradise', Uludağ is the most popular winter sports centre in Turkey. The mountain is 2,543 metres (8,340 ft) high and its high slopes are covered with a good quality snow between December and April. Catering for all demands and providing hire facilities, guides and trainers, the ski resort is overrun with tourists from all over the world. You can enjoy all the fun without having to carry around clothes and equipment. Uludağ has 13 different pistes suitable for alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and heli-skiing. These pistes are graded according to ability and expertise and all equipped with aerial and surface lifts. There are also snowmobiles and ATV trips through the snow-covered pine forests.
Uludağ is not only a winter sports centre; it also provides excellent facilities where you can enjoy a wonderful family holiday. The resort was designed to take into account your every need. Saunas, fitness centres, swimming pools, bars and shopping facilities are available. Cafes and restaurants and a lively nightlife with shows and entertainments are on offer for you to have a memorable and unforgettable holiday experience. Enjoy sipping warm wine and a tasty meal alfresco while watching others enjoying themselves on the slopes, or join your friends inside beside a cosy log fire. The choice is yours!
Yet another aspect of Uludağ is its proximity to Bursa city, which was the Ottoman capital for a while and considered the bedrock of Ottoman architecture. If you are interested in history and culture you can visit some of the best examples of Ottoman art in Bursa. We must also remind you to taste the rich cuisine of Bursa! You can also take a cultural tour to Cumalıkızık, which has maintained its renowned ancient town character or İznik (Nicaea) where you can discover both Byzantine and Ottoman monuments and buildings. You can also enjoy the therapeutic effects of the thermal spas scattered in and around Bursa.
Uludağ is beautiful in every season; it is a designated National Park Area, where you can enjoy trekking and hiking in a pristine clear atmosphere surrounded by diverse flora including unique endemic species.
Yılankaya (Snake Rock), Cennetkaya (Paradise Rock), Çobankaya (Shepherd’s Rock) all sculpted by glaciers are attractive rock formations for nature lovers. There are camping sites situated along the designated trekking routes such as Karabelen, Kirazlıyayla and Sarıalan. The high lakes such as Buzlugöl, Kilimligöl, Karagöl and Aynalıgöl are popular picnicking areas frequented by day trippers from the mountain resorts. If you wish to visit these areas during the winter months you are strongly advised to arrange the services of a mountain guide. Names of these lakes reflect their natural aspects: Buzlugöl (Ice Lake) is partially covered with ice throughout the year; Kilimligöl (Kilim Lake) reflects the bursting colours of its surroundings, including high-pasture flowers and plants; Aynalıgöl (Mirror Lake) is secluded from the wind and its calm surface is as reflective as a mirror; Karagöl (Black Lake) is quite deep and hence its waters are dark. These four different but beautiful lakes are all in close proximity so you can visit them all in a single day or you can set up camp nearby. The best time for the lakes is early summer so that you can fully appreciate the variety of nature on offer.
Uludağ’s rich flora is great for nature-watchers. From early spring to late summer you can see thousands of plant species from the slopes to the summit of mountain; of these species 26 are endemic to Uludağ and 78 are endemic to Turkey. When you wander on the mountain adorned with magnificent colour and flowers, who knows, you may even hear the reverberating bellow of Hercules searching for Hylas…
You can reach Uludağ by road, being approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Bursa city centre. During the summer months you can also reach Karabelen, Kirazlıyayla and Sarıalan camping sites by road. There is also a 20-minute cable car (teleferik) ride to Sarıalan from Bursa. From Sarıalan you can take a minibus at regular 20-minute intervals to the hotel area. However, due to security reasons, you are not allowed to take ski equipment on board the cable car. If you prefer to use your own equipment and to take the road option you should look out for any sudden snowfalls or drifting snow as well as black ice which may render the road impassable despite regular clearing and gritting. You are advised to put snow tyres on your car before your journey and you must also carry snow chains, a towrope and wheel chocks.
If you want to have a weekend or short break in Uludağ you can arrange transport (an easy bus ride) through one of the tour operators in İstanbul.
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