Just east of Bursa, Kestel is a small town, or, depending on the point of view, an industrial suburb of its far larger neighbour.
On the eastern borderlands of their empire, the Byzantines (Eastern Romans) established a small hillside castle on the site of what is now Kestel, and aptly named it castellum, which in Latin means, "little castle". The Ottoman Turks captured it in 1309, almost two decades before the conquest of Bursa, which made it one of the first Ottoman-held castles in the area. In the following centuries, it lost its frontier status and the strategical importance as the Ottoman State expanded, and was eventually abandoned.
In the 16th century, a settlement appeared around the former castle, and appropriated the alias of the castle for itself as Kestel. A happy coincidence is that the very same word also meant "water source" in Old Turkic, which the foothills on which Kestel is situated have in abundance.
Later on, many Turks and Muslims emigrated from their homelands in the Balkans and the Caucasus that turned out to be quite hostile with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and settled in Kestel. More immigrants from rural Turkey followed especially after the 1960s, when a cement plant and various factories were located in the outskirts of Kestel.
Today, the town has a population of about 30,000. Both sides of the highway leading from Bursa in the west are completely built up with industrial zones—automative and especially textiles—but the town centre itself feels more like a small urban centre that serves the surrounding countryside, with not much to do with the nearby Bursa.
|Routes through Kestel|
|Çanakkale ← Bursa ←||W E||→ Eskişehir → Ankara|