Heritage Preservation and Cumalıkızık Rural Community

Theme: Heritage Preservation and Rural Community

by Ms. Münire Nurgül Büyükgüllü
HeritageForAll Intern (Call 2019) from Istanbul, Turkey
Internship Program “Rural Heritage and Traditional Food”
Masters Candidate in Restoration (Conservation) program, Istanbul Technical University (ITU)


Cumalıkızık represents the importance of tourism and its relation with rural areas. The cultural heritage in the rural areas are preserved by the help of the local people. As in the case of Cumalıkızık, they have a significant effect on the built heritage and the promotion of the village which will be explained accordingly. In other words, this study aims to contribute understanding the role of the rural communities towards rural heritage preservation.


Cultural landscapes show the area’s characteristics, identity, culture and history. They are one of the most important elements of rural tourism by determining its values. UNESCO defines cultural landscapes as “combined works of nature and humankind, they express a long and intimate relationship between peoples and their natural environment.” In terms of tourism, it is all up to the local people to promote their village and their culture. Their cultural heritage contains all the materials from the past civilizations and their traces left behind. These are the traditions, practices, food culture, history and so on. In order to protect and preserve these values, the rural communities take the lead. The local people are absolutely the key element in this matter.

Figure 1: Cumalıkızık Village, (Photo by Murat Öcal. Source: Türkiye Kültür Portalı, http://www.kulturportali.gov.tr/turkiye/bursa/gezilecekyer/cumalikizik-koyu)

Tourism, as a concept, started with the Grand Tour in the 17th century which was merely based on culture (Eres & Özdoğan, 2014). This is the result of people caring about their or another country’s culture which makes them want to see these cultural areas due to curiosity. Hence, the rural areas get the opportunity to show their culture by presenting their local identity. Not only their built heritage but also their cultural elements such as food, music, festivals and traditions. It can be said that, tourism has the leading way of showing the geographical, cultural and historical matters to the visitors of the villages. It is a known fact that tourism has its advantages and disadvantages derived from external factors. However, it also provides these areas protection. Because the more these villages are known, the more they are protected. Therefore, the relationship between the rural areas and tourism is a subject to be taken cautiously.

Cumalıkızık and Its Historical Background

Cumalıkızık is a village settled in the east of Bursa, in Yıldırım district, on the north-western slopes of Uludağ. It was a home for many civilizations surely. However, what makes this village special is its settlement. Cumalıkızık is extremely important for the Ottoman history because the village was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, it has a special place in terms of historical and cultural values.

Figure 2: Cumalıkızık Village, (Source: Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, https://kvmgm.ktb.gov.tr/TR-100414/bursa-ve-cumalikizik-osmanli-imparatorlugunun-dogusu-bu-.html)

In the 14th century, after Bursa was the first capital, complexes were built and the cities started to develop. As for Cumalıkızık, it was established by the planning system of vakıf (waqf) which eventually lead to complexes and to building the village. The name “kızık” was given to several villages due to their location being stuck in between valleys of Uludağ. These villages were all named after their properties either geographically or culturally such as Derekızık and Fidyekızık. People from these villages were going to Cumalıkızık for the Cuma Namazı (Friday Prayer) in groups. That is where the name of Cumalıkızık was formed. In addition, it can be said that Cumalıkızık is the best preserved one of these villages which keeps its authenticity.

Figure 3: Bursa, (Source: Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, https://kvmgm.ktb.gov.tr/TR-100414/bursa-ve-cumalikizik-osmanli-imparatorlugunun-dogusu-bu-.html)

Cumalıkızık and Bursa was inscribed to the World Heritage Tentative List in 2000. After many efforts, later on in 2014, it was inscribed to the World Heritage List as “Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire” with the criteria i, ii, iii, iv and vi. To further explain, for the first criteria, it can be said that the city has a creative urban planning system which is the proof of Bursa being accepted as the first step of becoming an Empire from a Beylik. For the second criteria, it is understood that the facilities in Ottoman cities were mainly built by individuals with the set of mind of charity. To keep the facilities function, the income from the khans, hamamms and bazaars were donated to the vakıfs (waqf). The vakıfs are the main reason that provided life into these cities to function. As for the third one, the traditions of tradesmen culture and continuation of the traditional rural life are the reason to be selected. The khans, bedesten, mosques, madrasahs etc. all represent the early Ottoman period. However, an architectural plan called as the Bursa-style or “⊥” plan was developed which has a great importance in terms of architectural history. The architectural elements of Bursa were the reasons for the criteria iv. As for the last criteria, the traditions and myths are the key elements. Especially with the identification of Karagöz and Hacivat, figures of a traditional shadow theatre, which are also registered to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List, it became clear that the area was unique (Bursa Site Management Unit, 2013b).

Cultural Landscape Values of Cumalıkızık Village

The elements that shape the cultural landscape in the rural areas are the settlements, architectural properties, landscapes, forests, agricultural lands, vegetation, transportation, socio-economic structure, historical values and cultural values (Pirselimoğlu Batman et al, 2019). In order to understand the cultural landscape of a village, its properties concerning these values should be known.

Cumalıkızık is a traditional Turkish village consisting of 270 houses, only 180 of them being used. In the village, there are 133 registered buildings, one of them being a mosque and one being a hamamm. They represent the traditional architecture of a Turkish house with 2 to 3 floors, sub-levels built by stone and upper floors are wooden filled with adobe. At the entrance of the village, there is a cemetery and a square for common use, containing a 700 year old plane tree. The square was left empty to add to the cemetery intentionally. However, it is now used for the bazaar. All the streets are covered with natural stone and they each contain a drainage system of their own (Bursa Site Management Unit, 2013a). With the inclination, the rain water streams down to the entrance of the village and after collecting the water, the gardens are watered by the canals. The streets do not cut each other. They have the appropriate width where it is enough for people and horse-drawn carriages to pass. The houses were built close to each other so that there were more space for the agricultural lands which are still used nowadays as well (Pirselimoğlu Batman et al., 2019).

Figure 4: Cumalıkızık streets, (Photo by Bursa Governorship. Source: Türkiye Kültür Portalı, http://www.kulturportali.gov.tr/turkiye/bursa/gezilecekyer/cumalikizik-koyu)

Intangible Cultural Heritage and The Importance of Rural Communities

Cumalıkızık is an old village, continuing its traditions from the Ottoman Empire. Even though it is close to the city center, it has a different way of living and their income derives from the local trade. They still continue to farm and they sell walnuts, chestnuts, raspberries and cherries. Agriculture is a big part of the economical aspects of the village. At the entrance of the village, the local people sell their handmade goods, local products such as tarhana, erişte (noodles), jam and herbs to the visitors. Hence, the square became a local market.

The village is actually known for the Turkish tv series which took place in Cumalıkızık. Kınalı Kar was taken in a house in the village and lots of people visited the village just for curiosity of the house. Kara and Kılıç (2019) states that in a survey done to the visitors, 67,2% of them are visiting the village because of the tv series, not because of the village was inscribed to the World Heritage List and 32,8% of them are visiting because of the World Heritage List and are thinking that the village needs to be more known of its historical and cultural heritage. However, even before the village was inscribed to the World Heritage List, it had a huge population of tourists visiting. In addition, the village is located on the İstanbul-Ankara-İzmir highway and it is close to major cities. Especially in the weekends, there are a lot of people visiting as a day trip.

Figure 5: A gift shop in Cumalıkızık, (www.bizevdeyokuz.com/cumalikizik-koyu/)

In Cumalıkızık, many traditions were kept alive such as Hıdrellez, wedding activities, birth and funeral ceremonies and the food. The food has a great impact on the village and its promotion. While visiting the village, people get to see the locals making gözleme (turkish pancakes) and the local women make and sell them to the visitors. They all try to sell their local products by inviting people in to the houses to eat. Some say they have the best olive oil, some say they have the best raspberry jam. In addition, there are lots of handmade products such as knitted shawls, shalwars, accessories with the ornaments and colors of the Ottoman period and even flower tiaras. The village has an active and lively vibe because of the local people.

Figure 6: Bulanlar Konağı, Cumalıkızık, (www.bizevdeyokuz.com/cumalikizik-koyu/)
Figure 7: Making process of gözleme, Cumalıkızık, (www.bizevdeyokuz.com/cumalikizik-koyu/)

The houses in Cumalıkızık allows a relationship between the streets and the people. The ground floors are formed by the local production style. Interventions were done by the locals to serve easier to the visitors which is a bit controversial, depending on the actions taken. However, it is also part of the culture of the village. However, since this is a great matter considering the authenticity of the village, it should be monitored. The settlement itself became a public space while opening the ground floors to everyone and the upper floors are for private uses only. There are a few houses which have turned into hotels or places to have breakfast which is an opportunity for the people who wants to stay at the village for a night or so.

Figure 8:Local goods of Cumalıkızık, (Photo by Pi István Tóth. http://www.bizevdeyokuz.com/cumalikizik-koyu/)

The women in the village have an important role in the tourism. Along with other organizations, there is even the Association of Unity and Development of the Women of Cumalıkızık Village. They help prepare activities and support the women in the village. Also with several projects, they had the opportunity to present the traditional clothes and had a chance to be involved in tourism. UNWTO (2004) states that in community involvement and awareness, the most important element is the participatory approach authorizing the local community and the tourism industry with a sense of ownership and responsibility towards sustainable tourism.

In addition, every year in June, there is a raspberry festival in the village. In the festival, traditional dances and performances are held with competitions of the best raspberry. The whole village and the visitors gather around the main square to see these activities.

Figure 9: Raspberry festival in Cumalıkızık, (www.tarimpusulasi.com/teknoloji/3-uluslararasi-cumalikizik-ahududu-festivali/19235)


It is a difficult task to preserve rural areas without the interventions of modern society. However, Cumalıkızık puts the subject into another level. There are hardly any new buildings in the village. Even though the village was built in the 14th century it was preserved at its best with original materials. The restoration work done in the process of World Heritage List inscription, was carefully carried out in consideration of the urban fabric.

Cumalıkızık has a unique example of an urban planning system, based on its streets. Therefore, it was absolutely necessary to remove all the vehicles. It was a way of opening the streets to both the local people and the visitors. This lead tourism to be a part of the village eventually.

In the process of developing tourism, the dwellings stand against the risk of losing their authenticity and identity. Hence in order to protect the village as it is, sustainability and rural tourism should be taken into consideration and precautions should be taken to prevent any loss of the built heritage. UNWTO explains in the Rural tourism in Europe: Experiences and Perspectives (2002) that the key elements of the goals and objectives of the rural tourism are the economics, protection of the environment, legal framework, quality of life, preservation of culture and traditions and transition to the market economy. It can be seen that Cumalıkızık has been delicately considered for these matters and it is preserved well. Also, due to its active local community, both the built heritage and the cultural heritage has been kept alive.


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