Safranbolu Old Town (World Heritage)

Safranbolu Old Town (World Heritage)

For over 700 years, until the 19th century, Safranbolu was an important caravan resting place. The picturesque old town center still has numerous historical buildings such as town houses, a caravanserai with a Turkish bath, an old mosque and the residence of Suleyman Pasha.

Safranbolu Old Town: Facts

Official title: Safranbolu old town
Cultural monument: pre-industrial cityscape with adaptation to the environment; different quarters like the market quarter and the quarter of the summer houses in the hills (Baglar); Protected architectural monuments such as the Köprülü-Mehmet-Pascha Mosque and the Izzet-Mehmet-Pascha Mosque, the Gazi-Süleyman-Pascha Medrese as well as historical houses such as Araphacýlar Evi and Curtlar Evi (Baglar)
Continent: Asia
Country: Turkey, Anatolia
Location: Safranbolu, northeast of Karabük, north of Ankara
Appointment: 1994
Meaning: a city from the heyday of the caravan trade, threatened today by advancing industrialization

Safranbolu Old Town: History

around 3000 BC Chr. first settlement
63 BC Chr. Part of the Roman Empire
395 Part of the Byzantine Empire
1196 Takeover of the city by the Seljuks
1322 Construction of the Eski mosque and bath
1332 Visit of the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta
1354 Incorporation of the city into the Ottoman Empire
1451-1566 The city’s heyday
1662 Construction of the Köprülü Mehmet Pascha Mosque
1796 Construction of the Izzet Mehmet Pasha Mosque
1846 Construction of the Gazi Suleyman Pasha Medrese
1940 today’s naming Safranbolu
1976 Monument protection for the city
since 1985 1008 monuments placed under special monument protection

Wise inheritance administrator

Why is there only one small town in Turkey in which the legacy of the Ottoman period has been preserved so well, all houses have retained their original character and only little has been spoiled? The local population has always had “akil”, praises a village chronicler and means in the translated sense of the word reason, understanding and wisdom.

In addition to wisdom, it was probably also a chain of favorable circumstances that benefited Safranbolu, which experienced its greatest economic and cultural importance in the Ottoman period. Its location on the Silk Road, at the connection from Istanbul to the Black Sea, made the place an important rest stop. The 350-year-old Cinci caravanserai with its numerous guest rooms is an impressive testimony to those days. The close ties to the Sultan’s palace in Istanbul were also an advantage. The grand viziers Köprülü Mehmet Pascha and Izzet Mehmet Pascha spent some time in the small town, and their buildings, including large mosques and the market square, give the small town something surprisingly stately. An important element of small-town change is and was also water, that gushes incessantly from 105 springs. So it is hardly surprising that you come across a historic fountain on almost every street corner. They also knew how to deal with the cool water from above, and the local houses defy even the heaviest rain thanks to their sweeping, overhanging roofs. Fore more information about Turkey and Middle East, please visit rctoysadvice.

The bazaar district is in the heart of the city. The modern times and the modern hustle and bustle seem to be locked out there. In the narrow streets with coarse natural stone paving, there is one small handicraft business after the next. Many of these tirelessly working craftsmen have pushed their chairs in front of the door and do their work while having a lively conversation with the neighbors. The variety of professions is still impressive today: watchmakers work here as well as saddlers and stove fitters. In the past, these individual professions were organized in guilds that helped with purchasing and sales, controlled quality and helped out in the event of financial bottlenecks. The industrial companies in the region, which had been emerging since the 1950s, were too overwhelming competition.

The city consists of two parts: the actual city, which lies in two small valleys, protected from wind and weather, and “Baglar”, located on a hill and exposed to the fresh breeze – an ideal place for a summer break. Here you come across the traditional Ottoman houses from the last three centuries: partly in the basement made of field stones, which are layered in a herringbone pattern, and with upper floors constructed using lattice technology. Some of these monuments are shining in a new splendor, others are still gray and close to decay. Most of the houses are three-story, with a courtyard and six to eight rooms. Inside the residential buildings designed for several generations, which often have two separate entrances for men and women and on the ground floor via stables, have an oven and storage room for grain, the carved wooden ceilings in each room are handicraft showpieces. The layout of the rooms, in which you will find built-in cupboards for storing bedding, and the furnishings of the individual rooms, which can each be prepared for a small family, always obey the same scheme. Details such as the hooks in the ceiling for the cradle are a little astounding. Up to eight narrow, high windows and shutters per room allow daylight to penetrate into the house. Each door was protected by a screen to prevent strangers from looking directly into the room and the women in it. The hatch from the kitchen to the living room could not be missing in any house.

Safranbolu Old Town (World Heritage)