The City of Safranbolu is an example of a typical Ottoman trade town. It has played a key role in the caravan trade on the main route between Europe and the Orient.
The Old Town preserves many old buildings, with 1008 registered historical artifacts. These are: 1 private museum, 25 mosques, 5 tombs, 8 historical fountains, 5 Turkish baths, 3 caravanserais, 1 historical clock tower, 1 sundial and hundreds of houses and mansions. Also there are mounds of ancient settlements, rock tombs and historical bridges. The Old Town is situated in a deep ravine in a fairly dry area in the rain shadow of the mountains.
The name of the town derives from saffron, since Safranbolu was a trading place and a center for growing saffron.
Map of SafranboluLoad map
Safranbolu was our first stop during our trip to Turkey in late April / early May 2019. Going there by car is quite easy, from Istanbul it takes around 4 hours, mostly on highway Istanbul-Ankara. Proximity of Istanbul makes Safranbolu a popular site – there were quite many tourists on Saturday afternoon, but mostly Turkish and only a few foreigners.
Safranbolu was inscribed for well preserved center, being a good example of a typical Ottoman city of pre-industrial era. And indeed it seems really authentic and most of the buildings saved their original shape with white walls and brown wooden frames. Many of them serve as restaurants, guest houses or handicraft shops. One of the most symbolic buildings is local hammam Cinci, located near the main square, with conspicuous number of domes.
To fully admire the beauty of the town, one must climb up the hill with former palace, serving as local museum. It is not far away from the center and the panorama makes the short climb worthwhile. The museum is also quite interesting and presents daily life of craftsmen and merchants centuries ago.
The town's name comes from saffron, a spice that still is produced nearby. Safranbolu is proud of its saffron heritage – there is a big monument of this plant in the center, you can eat saffron ice cream or buy saffron soap, perfumes etc.
Overall, Safranbolu is a very nice town which is worth a visit. It is not very big so a couple of hours would suffice, although those who decide to stay overnight won't be bored.
August 2008. Safranbolu is a lovely old town stuffed with the beautiful wood frame houses built by the merchants. Some of these are open as museum houses, others have been turned into guest houses - some well, others not. Very relaxing to wander round the narrow lanes of the old town, scramble up to the castle and clock tower for a panoramic view, take a tour of some surrounding areas to take in the caves, the ancient aquaduct. Doesn't feel over-run by tourists.
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