Safranbolu is a typical Ottoman city that has survived to the present day. It also displays an interesting interaction between the topography and the historic settlement. By virtue of its key role in the caravan trade over many centuries, Safranbolu enjoyed great prosperity and as a result it set a standard in public and domestic architecture that exercised a great influence on urban development over a large area of the Ottoman Empire. The architectural forms of the buildings and the streets are illustrative of their period. The caravan trade was for centuries the main commercial link between the Orient and Europe. As a result, towns of a characteristic type grew up along its route. With the coming of railways in the 19th century, these towns abruptly lost their raison d'être, and most of them were adapted to other economic bases. Safranbolu was not affected in this way and as a result has preserved its original form and buildings to a remarkable extent.
The site of Safranbolu has been occupied by human settlements since prehistory, as evidenced by rock-cut tombs. The Turks conquered the town in the 11th century and in the 13th century it became an important caravan station on the main east-west trade route. Surviving buildings from this early period include the Old Mosque, Old Bath, and Medresse of Süleyman Pasha, all built in 1322.
The caravan trade reached its apogee in the 17th century, when the central market was extended to meet the requirements of travellers. Many buildings survive from this period, including the Cinci Inn with its 60 guestrooms (1640-48), Koprülü Mosque (1661) and Let Pasha Mosque (1796), as well as many stores, stables and baths. Changes in trading structures and the advent of the railways brought this long period of prosperity to an end in the early 20th century. The town underwent a period of economic deprivation until the building of the Karabük steelworks, which provided a great deal of employment in the region.
Safranbolu consists of four distinct districts: the market place area of the inner city, known as Cukur (The Hole), the area of Kıranköy, Bağlar (The Vineyards), and an area of more recent settlement outside the historic area. The original Turkish settlement was immediately in the south of the citadel and developed to the south-east.
Cukur is so named because it lies in the lower part of the town; its centre is the market place, which is surrounded by the houses and workshops of craftsmen, such as leather workers, blacksmiths, saddlers and shoemakers, and textile workers. The area is triangular in shape, defined by two rivers.
Kıranköy was formerly a non-Muslim district, with a socio-architectural pattern similar to that in contemporary European towns, in fact the craftsmen and tradesmen living above their workshops, cellars used for winemaking and storage, etc. The pattern of settlement in Bağlar is one of single houses set within large gardens.
The streets in Cukur and Kıranköy are narrow and curved, following contours. They are surfaced with stone paving, sloping inwards to evacuate surface water. The older houses are half-timbered, the spaces between the timbers being filled with various materials (clay, brick, etc.). There are no windows on the street frontage, so that the stone walls resemble extensions of garden walls; the main rooms are on the first floor. Many of the ceilings are lavishly carved and painted.
The site of Safranbolu has been occupied by human settlements since prehistory, as evidenced by rock-cut tombs and a Roman temple in the vicinity. The present settlement developed as a trading centre after the Turkish conquest in the 11th century. In the 13th century it became an important caravan station on the main east-west trade route. Surviving buildings from this early period include the Old Mosque, the Old Bath, and the Medresse of Siileyman Pasha. all built in 1322.
The caravan trade reached its apogee in the 17th century, when the central market was extended to meet the requirements of travellers rather than the local inhabitants. Many buildings survive from this period, including the Cinci Inn with its sixty guest rooms (1640-48), the Koprulu Mosque (1661), and the Izzet Pasha Mosque (1796), as well as many stores, stables, and baths.
The 19th century saw considerable investment in private estates and a sharp increase in the size of the town. The richer inhabitants donated public buildings, including eighteen fountains, the ~ and Hamadiye mosques, the Ali Baba convent, and the town hospital.
Changes in trading structures and the advent of the railways brought this long period of prosperity to an end in the early 20th century. The town underwent a period of economic deprivation until the building of the Karabuk steelworks, which provided a great deal of employment in the region. Safranbolu residents who went to work at Karabuk preferred to retain their original homes, thus bringing limited economic stability back to the town.
The Legend of the Bottomless Lake: Safranbolu
As to the rumor, centuries ago a beautiful young girl from Konar village and a handsome nomad guy fell in love. The nomad guy asked from the girl’s father to get married. However, the father said that he would not let her daughter to marry a nomad guy, because he loved her very much and could not stand her to leave the village. Then, two young ones decided to escape together. They would have met at the Bottomless Lake at dawn and then left. The guy went to the meeting spot, but the girl could not leave the house. Because she didn’t come, the nomad guy killed himself. Then the girl arrived there late. When she saw her lover dead, she also killed herself. Here, the place at where these two young people could not meet and killed themselves is called the Bottomless Lake. Also rumor has it that two green headed ducks were seen on the lakeshore on every Friday morning. It was believed that one had been the handsome nomad guy and the other is his lover, the beautiful girl from Konan village.