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Safranbolu: UNESCO Heritage Listed Anatolian Turkish City


Safranbolu old townKonaks by the market place



Safranbolu is special. Two hours north of Ankara and seldom visited by foreign tourists. Safranbolu is arguably Turkey's finest example of Ottoman domestic architecture. The delightful houses of old Safranbolu have earned it a 'World Heritage Site' classification and its a lovely place to spend a day wandering around.

The town centre of Safranbolu is being tastefully restored and the busy market square forms a focal point around which the rest of the town is spread out. Arriving by bus or car its a good idea to stop as you come into the old town itself and walk down through the narrow, pedestrian only, streets taking in all the little shops and the famous houses. Some of these buildings are on the verge of falling down and some have been renovated completely by craftsmen and students from Zonguldak University.

Safranbolu was originally built around a sinkhole that has now been emptied of its mineral deposits. At one time Safranbolu was composed of two towns with the Turkish community living on one side of the hole and the Greeks on the other. It is interesting to note that the architecture of both quarters is very similar with the fine 19th century konaks of farmers and business men resting on stone foundations and pushing their overhanging balconies out over the cobbled streets. To get a look at the interior of one of these houses you can go to the Kaymakamalar Evi Museum, up a little side street from the vegetable market. There you'll find a restored house open to visitors for a small fee. The tiny restaurant/cafe in the grounds serves the nicest Gozleme I've ever had.

If you're looking for souvenirs you'll find all kinds of things. Safranbolu has a growing number of shops targeting tourists and wood products (walking sticks and trays) can represent a good deal. The town itself is famed for its hazelnut sweets.

While you're in Safranbolu you could also visit the Cinci Hamam, built in the 17th Century with the mosque whose name it took. Marble interior and skylights are authentic and you can lose some of the dust and grime you might have acquired coming through Karabuk.

The easiest way to get Safranbolu is from Ankara. Car hire will pay off in terms of flexibility and you can continue north until you reach the charming fishing port of Amasra. If that's beyond you budget there are scheduled buses from Ankara's ASTI terminal and Ankara based travel agents will do daytrips to the town for a reasonable cost.

There are a growing number of places to stay and eat here in Safranbolu and its unlikely that you'll have difficulty in finding a roof for the night or somewhere to have a meal. Nightlife in Safranbolu is not up to much but then that's probably not what you came for.


Related Sites

Municipality of Safranbolu
Hitit Site








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Last modified: 2023-10-28


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