Places you must visit in Safranbolu

Safranbolu is a town and district of Karabük Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. In 1994, it was placed by UNESCO as one of the best preserved 20 cities across the world as a typical Ottoman city that has survived to the present day. The Old Town preserves many old buildings, with 1008 registered historical artifacts. These are 5 tombs, 25 mosques (one of them is Suleiman Pasha Mosque which was built in the 14th century), 1 private museum, 5 Turkish baths, 8 historical fountains, 3 caravanserais, 1 historical clock tower, 1 sundial, and hundreds of houses and mansions. It displays an interesting link between the historic settlement and the topography. For many centuries and thanks to the increased role of the port of Sinop, located on the Black Sea, Safranbolu played a key role in caravan trade and became the most important stopover point on the route linking Europe and the Orient to the Black Sea. Its layout shows the urban growth of the town as a result of economic expansion. 

For more info about Safranbolu, read this article.

The name of Safranbolu city is derived from the flower Saffron. The best quality saffron known in Anatolia is grown in Safranbolu. The Saffron flower is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It can be used in food, cosmetics, and medicine. Turkish lokum with saffron, saffron rice, saffron tea, saffron cologne, and saffron soaps are indispensable for those who want to taste local flavors or buy gifts while taking time in Safranbolu.

Safranbolu welcomed 1.15 million tourists, totaling 23 times its population in 2021

“old city is very attractive. Shops are cheap and restaurants are cheap too. Hours pass a lot of bazaars. Cinci Han and Turkish Bath are very attractive too. You can spend hours and hours wandering around the old city. You can buy Turkish delights and a lot of local things.” Visitor review

Exciting things you can do when you visit Safranbolu

A night in an Ottoman Mansion

konak in Safranbolu

Many Ottoman Mansions (konaks) in Safranbolu were turned into hotels, preserving as many original architectural features as possible and decorated with the Ottoman character. This means that you can spend a night in an Ottoman atmosphere and go back in time to the 17th-18th centuries.

You will enjoy a unique experience with facilities such as en suite bathrooms that can be tiny (in the most traditional konaks, bathrooms are hidden in cupboard spaces) so Safranbolu’s hotels for ambiance and character, can’t be resisted.

Don’t miss this outstanding opportunity and register for a night in an Ottoman mansion now!

Safranbolu’s Sweet Treats

Safranbolu’s sweet lokum

Although Turkish delight has been known in Anatolia since the 15th century, it became common especially within the borders of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. The Turkish delight, which was known as comfortable-ül hulkum (throat reliever) in the Ottoman Empire, and in Europe, was named ‘TurkishDelight’ by a British traveler in the 19th century. 

It was previously made with a combination of molasses or honey and flour and gained its present taste and flavor due to the discovery of refined sugar and especially starch, known as ‘head sugar’ in the 19th century. You can’t come to Safranbolu and not try the world-famous Safranbolu Turkish Delight. Safranbolu Turkish Delight is different from other Turkish delights because it is less sweet and light. What makes Safranbolu’s delight special is the degree of hardness of the mineral-rich water and the natural sugar used.

 The main alleys of the old town neighborhood are packed with sweet shops where you can try and buy lokum in a huge range of flavors, from the standard rose water to saffron and chocolate and lokum stuffed with pistachios and walnuts. Rare visitors can resist trying them.

Explore the Bulak Caves

Bulak caves in Safranbolu

Bulak Cave is located within the borders of Bulak village, approximately 8 km from the center of Safranbolu. The cave, which is up to 6 km long, is open to visitors only for the first 400 meters and is a natural wonder with its stalagmites, stalactites, travertines, ponds, and underground water source, it’s the 4th largest cave in Turkey.

When visitors enter the main gallery, which they reach by passing through a narrow section after the entrance, they are faced with a breathtaking view of the cave. As it progresses inside the cave, this magnific image continues to increase its influence. In the later parts of the cave, the water source of the cave falls from a height of 10-15 meters from place to place, forming a waterfall, and then disappears underground by siphoning. Later, this water rises to the surface at the point where the first inlet is located, forming the Mencilis spring outlet.

When visiting Bulak Cave, don’t forget to wear a jacket. It’s so freezing inside!

 “Incredibly amazing cave! It’s freezing inside but the unbelievable shapes of the stones are like artwork. You can see only 200mt with a guide and 600mt in total to see but you can book a visit to see deeper till 2km deep. They have some rules and limitations to accept you on this tour. You need to be fit eventually. I’m seriously thinking to have that long tour.” Visitor review

Shop for Handicrafts at Safranbolu’s Bazaars

 Safranbolu Bazaar

Safranbolu, the old Ottoman city is one of the best places to visit, not only for its natural beauty and old Ottoman buildings but also for the old bazaar which is located near the center of the old town district on Arasta Arkasi Sokak.

In the past, this wonderful bazaar was an important Trade Center including many workplaces which cover approximately 10-15 m2 fields. Many stores such as forging, shoemaking, copper and copper work, and iron working were found as a guild, the basic medieval manufacturing organization here. Thus, the streets of Safranbolu Bazaar are called and classified according to handwork as Saddlers House, Merchant House, Shoemaker House, and Butchers House, so, visitors can easily find all kinds of handicrafts and materials in the wonderful bazaar.

Safranbolu bazaar includes many souvenir shops where you can buy special traditional Turkish handicrafts such as miniature of Ottoman houses, woodworking, metalworking, and fascinating accessories, but don’t worry, you don’t have to hold back on your wallets, things at Safranbolu bazaar aren’t going to be cheaper at your next destination.

Don’t forget to try traditional food here like kuyu kebab, peruhi which is blackberry syrup accompanied by Turkish coffee, and Safranbolu lokum with saffron. You will always remember how tasty Safranbolu food is.

Visit the Köprülü Mehmet Paşa Mosque

Mehmet Paşa Mosque in safranbolu

There are several good examples of mosque architecture in Safranbolu, but the Köprülü Mehmet Paşa Mosque is considered the most interesting one.

The mosque is located on the main lane through the old town, right next door to the Shoemakers Bazaar, so it’s easy to find. It was built in 1661 by the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire Koprulu Mehmet Pasha. It is heavily influenced by the building styles prevalent in Turkey during the 17th century. This squat mosque with its helmet-roof has a serene and recently restored interior, featuring a marble mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca), it also features a sun clock, one of the first of its kind in Safranbolu. 

At the end 

If you are interested in history and archaeological sites, you should visit Safranbolu, it is a city worth a visit as it will take you back to the Ottoman era and make you live the experience with all the unique details.

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