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Safranbolu: A Gem of the Black Sea on Silk Road - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ankara- Safranbolu is a typical Ottoman city that has survived to the present day. Its stone walls, architectural forms and old Albanian roads speak of its originality and a remote history.

Asharq Al-Awsat wandered in Safranbolu city situated in Karabuk Province on the Black Sea in the northwest of Turkey. This old city dates back to 3000 years ago.

Safranbolu is considered among the most important cities in the region of Anatolia; it was previously known as “Silk Road” regarding its strategic location and witnessed many civilizations though history, including Romanian and Seljuks who built the city’s most renowned palace.

The city has held many names over the history. Its last name derives from the plant of ‘saffron’ since Safranbolu was a trading place and a center for growing saffron. This plant has been used in the manufacture of cosmetics, food, and medicines.

Safranbolu is also renowned with Kabab, and “Zarda Sweets” made with saffron, in addition to Malban sweets.

*Historical features

The Safron City is known for old Turkish houses, and include around 1200 cultural and historic features, which were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The city also comprises a number of Ottoman historic features like old motels, Ottoman bathes, mosques, bridges, and distinguished palaces.

*Silk Route

During the Ottomans era, Safranbolu reached its economic and cultural peak. It was considered the most important trade point between the West and the East through the Silk Road; merchants from all across the world resided in the city and worked in its markets.

Safranbolu was placed in the world Cultural Heritage list by UNESCO in appreciation of the successful efforts in the preservation of its heritage as a whole. The organization seeks to maintain the beauty of its architecture through rehabilitating many features like the Ottoman Locanda and transforming some old houses into restaurants and markets to attract tourists during summer and winter.

*Houses of Safranbolu

The houses of this city enjoy a unique old architectural beauty. They are perfect examples of old civilian architecture, reflecting the Turkish social life of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The delicate woodwork and carved wall and ceiling decorations, the banisters indoor knobs etc. all come together to form an unmatched harmony of architectural aesthetics and Turkish art.

Architect Ahmed Tourun, one of the city’s residents, expressed his content from maintaining this unique architectural style and said that the keenness of its residents to protect their history and traditions will contribute to linking past and coming generations together.

*House of the Governor

House of the Governor “Izzat Mohammad Pasha” known as “Wali” is one of the best historic houses in Safranbolu, reflecting the old Turkish community and culture.

There is also the Headquarter of the Ruler known as “the Castle”, which was established in 1904 following the directives of Wali Anis Pasha.

*The Clock Tower and the City’s Market

The clock tower is located above the Castle and was established in 1797 by the Grand Vizier Izzat Mohammad Pasha following the orders of Sultan Salim III.

Safranbolu used to depend on selling handicrafts in its different markets. It also maintained workshops of tin and copper industry till date. Visitors can buy special souvenirs from the souvenirs market, which has been transformed into a center for handicrafts following the rehabilitation process carried out by the Turkish authorities.

*Beautiful nature

Safranbolu does not only boast historical uniqueness, but also a beautiful nature. The city has big forests, steep valleys and vast plains, which are considered great destination for safari trips and sports like biking and mountain climbing.