Benefactor. The wife of the Ottoman Sultan Orhan I, the mother of Murad Hüdavendigâr (XII-XIV century). She was of Greek origin, and her real name was Holofira. She was the first foreign wife in the Ottoman Empire, and at the same time she was the first sultan of a foreign origin. She was the daughter of Mihalis, Byzantine Prince of Yarhisar (of Bursa/Yenişehir). She became a Muslim after she got married to Orhan Ghazi, and changed her name as Nilüfer. In a short time, she adopted Turkish traditions. Throughout their marriage, Orhan Ghazi and Nilüfer Hatun had two sons: Süleyman Pasha and Murad I. The older son of Nilüfer Hatun, Süleyman Pasha, made a great contribution during the foundation years of the Ottoman Empire. She left a beautiful mark in Bursa by donating her wealth.
When Orhan Ghazi was at war according to the will of his father, Nilüfer Hatun spent her life doing charity work. Being a very benevolent person, Nilüfer Hatun decorated İznik and Bursa with mosques, imarets, and madrasahs. She had a lodge near the thermal gate), a mosque in Bursa Castle, a prayer room in Darülharp Neighborhood, and a bridge over the Nilüfer River (Bursa/Mudanya road)built. After several centuries, her name was given to a district in Bursa.
Her son Murad I built an imaret for Nilüfer Hatun, whose grave is in Orhangazi Mausoleum, in Söğüt, in 1388. That imaret, which is in the northwest of Yeşil Mosque and in the same area with the streets of museum, mausoleum and Lefke, is now housing the İznik Museum.
The epitaph of this imaret shows that the Sultan Murad I (Ottoman Sultan between 1362 and 1389) ordered the construction of this building in 1388, and it is one of the oldest buildings of the Ottoman Empire. This building, which functioned as an imaret until the end of the XIX century, was devastated to a great extent with the Greek occupation of İznik. In the republican period, it was used as storage for a while, and thanks to the restoration, it acquired its present appearance. This building, which was built in memory of Nilüfer Hatun, was opened to visit as a museum, in 1955.
REFERENCE: Ana Britannica Ansiklopedisi (1999), Meydan Larousse Ansiklopedisi (1969-73), İrfan Özfatura / Fukara Anası Nilüfer Hatun (2004), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Kadınlar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 6, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013).