The Location of Safranbolu and Its Neighbouring Provinces, Sub-provincesand Villages
Safranbolu is a
sub-provincial centre in the north-western Black Sea region, located at the cross-section
of the 41°16' northern latitude and 32°41' eastern longitude. According to the
present administrative system the neighbouring provinces are: Zonguldak, Kastamonu,
Çankırı, Bolu; and the sub-provinces are: Karabük, Eflani, Ulus, Bartın, Araç,
Eskipazar, Bulak, Tokatlı, Gayıza (İncekaya),Danaköy, Çiftlik, Kirpe (Düzce),
Yazı, Konarı, Yürük, Akveren, Oğulveren, Davutobası, Çerçen, Hacılarobası, Bostanbükü,
Karıt, Başköy, Kılavuzlar and Kapullu are some of the villages in the same region.
Among these Bulak, Tokatlı, Gayıza, Danaköy, Yazı, Konarı, Yürük, Karıt, Bostanbükü
and Kılavuzlar are of special significance to Safranbolu (Safranbolu Map).
Yürük village has
long been an important centre close to Safranbolu, with its large houses and
the labour it supplies to Istanbul, primarily in bakery.
The environs of
Safranbolu have been an area of settlement ever since the Paleolithic Age. There
are three large tumulus around Eflani. Homeros refers to this area as Paphlagonia.
After the Persian and Hellenistic periods it became an even more densely populated
region during the Roman and Byzantine eras.The 24 tumuli in the Safranbolu-Eflani
region various rock-tombs,reliefs and a Roman temple in the village of Sipahiler,
south of Safranbolu, are among the tangible evidence of these periods. There
is no trace of either the Roman or the Byzantine era within the city of Safranbolu;
neither is there any refence to its name during these periods. The historian
Leonard suggests that Safranbolu could be the old Germia, while according to
Ainsworth, as the city was formerly named Zafaran Boli, it could well have been
Flaviopolis which literally has the same meaning: city of saffron.
Osman Turan writes that the city was named Dadybra before it was taken over
by the Turks.
After the Turks
came to Anatolia, the history of Safranbolu developed in relation to that of
Kastamonu. This region was first occupied by the Turks at the the 12th
century, during the reign of the Danışmentliler. Later it was recaptured by
the Byzantines, but the Çobanoğulları settled here at the beginning of the 13th
century. At the start, the Çobanoğulları were loyal to the Seljuks, then, Ilhanlılar.
The chieftain of Çandaroğulları from the tribe of Kayı, established at Eflani
towards the end of the 13th century, was also loyal first to the
Seljuk to the İlhanlıs; was independent for a short period at the beginning
of the 15th century, and stayed in power until 1461, then becoming
loyal to the Ottomans. The name of the city is believed to be Zalifre or Zalifra
during that period. Eski Cami, Süleyman Paşa Madrasa and Eski Hamam (Old Baths)
in Safranbolu are from the period of the Candaroğulları. All through these periods
and later in the Ottoman era, Kastamonu has always been the regional centre.
Starting from the Çandaroğulları period, for a long time under the Ottoman rule
Safranbolu was referred to as Taraklı Borlu. The names Zağfiran Borlu and later
Zağfiranbolu were used from the start of the 18th Century onwards
on the history of Safranbolu during the Ottoman period is very scarce. Some
names may emerge when we look at its historical buildigs; Cinci Hoca, Köprülü
Mehmet Paşa, İzzet Mehmet Paşa being among the prominent people who have
left their mark on Safranbolu.
Sources of Building
The stone used
in building construction is obtained from the limestone rocks in the area. This
hard, blue stone is utilized also for the manufacture of good quality lime.
Another local material, "küfünk", a porous, lightweight stone is used
as infill in the wood-frame construction and also for building chimneys; being
easily sawed into shape.
type of soil could be used in making adobe, those made out of the soil brought
specifically from Köprücek were preferred.
Roof tiles were
hand-shaped in the villages of Çerçen, Bostanbükü and Çamlıca, and burnt in
Looking at the
houses in Safranbolu we can see that very good quality wood has been generously
used. Even today, more than half of the surrounding area is covered with forests.
We can definitely say that this ratio was much higher in the old days. Today,
38 percent of the trees within the Karabük Forestry Management Area are firs,
30 percent beeches, 20 percent pines and 9 percent oaks.
Wood used in construction
is mainly fir and pine; walnut and poplar have also been used sparingly. Orders
for the required wood for buildings were made to mountain villages such as Gayıza,
Tokatlıköy, Danaköy, Karaevli, Susundur, Arıcak and Başköy. They shaped the
lumber which they had already felled with axes, and then fastening them to sides
of mules brought it down mountain trails. Oxen pulled down the thicker trees.
Wood was cut either with hand saws or at saw-mills. In the first half of the
20th century there were three saw-mills in Danaköy.
Good quality lime is produced from the blue limestones in the area which
are burned in the forest land near Gayıza.
It is produced from every type of soil in the same way as adobe clay is
No records have
yet been encountered regarding any buildings from the Byzantine times in Safranbolu.
Probably, the Hagios Stephanos church (Ulucami) in Kıranköy was built by Theodora.
The Eski Cami mosque may have been transformed from a Byzantine church. The
remains of buildings belonging to the Turks start from the Candaroğulları period.
These have undergone various repairs and transformations through time. Only
the most significant buildings are listed below.
There are around
30 mosques. The oldest one is the Süleyman Paşa Camii (Eski Cami) mosque from
the Candaroğulları period (14th century). The other most important
ones are Köprülü Mehmet Paşa mosque (1662), İzzet Mehmet Paşa mosque (1779).
The Süleyman Paşa
Madrasa (14th century) of which only the foundations exist today,
is the only educational building worth noting.
Cinci Hoca Hanı
(Cinci Hodja Caravanserai 17th century), Eski Hamam (Old Baths 14th
century), Yeni Hamam (New Baths, 17th century). In addition to
these buildings, approximately 180 fountains and 15 bridges can be listed.
Looking at these
structures, we can assume that Safranbolu began to gain signifiance in the 14th
century. It attracted the attention of some prominent statesmen starting from
the 17th century through the 18th century; and since
then, with the increase in its own economic power, continued to add many more
buildings, mostly small mosques and fountains, to the existing stock.
the richest heritage of folklore in the area. Its traditions, customs, folk-tales,
folk-songs, music and folk-dances are each worth thorough research. We can trace
the characteristic features of the Turkish society behind each and every one
of these folkloric items.
the houses of Safranbolu, their spaciousness; their regular and steady construction;
the wealth of their spatial organization; their large gardens with numerous
fruit trees and ponds (either in open air or within pavilions); the fact that
each family owned a summer and a winter house; plus the dignity, elegance and
self-esteem of its people, all induce us to search for the causes of this prosperity.
As a result of
the self sufficient economic system prevailing in the city, each family produces
its own food. This consists of vegetables, fruit and food which is prepared
and stored for seasonal consumption. Meat, oil and sugar is purchased from elsewhere.
Most people of Safranbolu own fields in the vicinity of the city. Formerly,
there were extensive rice fields on the land where the Iron and Steel Factory
is now situated. Wheat, barley, rice and straw came from these fıelds cultivated
by the sharecroppers.
As the city takes
its name from this flower and as it is still grown in the area, it will be appropriate
to dwell in more detail on saffron. A member of the iridaceae family,
saffron is a bulbous plant, in many ways resembling colchicum, with its pinkish
purple flowers. It blooms in the months of September and October. The tips of
its female organ (the stigma) are picked at dawn. The plant flowers a year after
being planted. After its flowers have been picked for two succeeding years,
the plant is rooted out. Tips gathered from 100,000 flowers add up to only a
weight of 1 kg.
Having dyeing and medicinal properties, saffron is used in pharmaceuticals,
dyeing and also as a flavouring in cooking. It is capable of colouring water
a hundred thousand times its weight.
and Hippocrates refer to saffron. It has been cultivated in Iran and Kashmir
for ages. The Mongolians introduced saffron to China, the Arabs to Şpain and
the Crusaders to the rest of Europe. In Ancient Greece and Rome it was chewed
for its essence and medicinal properties and was also used as a dye.
Areas of Cultivation:
Saffron is grown in Spain, France, Sicily, the outskir of the Appenines,
Iran and Kashmir. In Turkey it is cultivated in Istanbul, Safranbolu, Adana
and Bilecik. In three of the villages of Safranbolu (Ak Oğulveren and Davutobası)
some of the families are still engaged in its production.
records regarding the economic value of saffron beginning of this century have
not yet been revealed. We know that at the end of the 19th century the
October harvest of saffron was exported to Syri Egypt from Safranbolu. In 1923,
3200 Ottoman liras worth of saffron was sold to Ankara and Istanbul. Today,
because the saffron grown in Turkey does not suffice to meet the internal demand,
it is supplemented by imports
In general, each
household in the city owns a cow which is mainly kept for its milk. Every morning
the herd is collected by a cowherd. The Angora goat is the most extensively
husbanded animal in the area. Yogurt and butter are produced from milk. The
male animals are preferred for slaughter. In Safranbolu, it is not customary
to consume mutton. In autumn, "kavurma" a braised preserved meat,
is prepared from goat's meat, to be consumed during the months when no fresh
meat is available. Animal husbandry is also important for the other by-products:
wool, hair and hide.
One other important
area of production in the old times was bee-keeping exercised on the high plateaus.
Honey was used as a substitute for sugar while honeywax was exported. Honeywax
was also utilized locally as a subsidiary element by the shoe-makers.
The most significant
area of production in Safranbolu was leather and leather goods. There is no
records as to when leather production actually began in Safranbolu. It can be
assumed however that the valley of the Tabakhane stream has been used for leather-tannig,
being extremely suitable from many aspects: the topography both conceals the
unattractive sight of the tannery and prevents the unpleasent odours from reaching
the mean settlement areas while the stream provides a natural recipient for
contaminated water. The Ottomans were at a considerably advenced level in leater
manufacturing until the end of the 18th century. Mordtmann notes
that leather manufacturing had an economic value for Safranbolu in 1852 and 84
tanneries are listed in 1890. Considering that the population was around 7500
during the same period, leather tanning appears to be a very intensive
area of manufacture. Being somewhat protected from external influences along
with the delayed impact of industrialization on leather manufacturing this
line of production continued to prosper in Safranbolu up to the middle of the
20th century. Although the guilds were abolished by law in 1910
it was quite some time before their influence within the traditions died out.
Later the export of partly treated leather to Europe became profitable and many
a rich merchant emerged from amongst those in this trade. According to the booklet
published by the Safranbolu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 415 workers were
employed in a hundred tanneries. 430 people worked as shoe-makers, slipper-makers
and in leather tailoring. Semi-manufactured leather of various kinds, graded
from very fine to coarse leather worth 84.600 Ottoman liras were exported while
17.900 Ottoman liras worth of glazed and patent leather was imported from Europe.
Hides of cows, bulls, goats and sheep worth 56.000 Ottoman liras were purchased
from the area. There were 16 merchants dealing in leather goods in general and
5 merchants dealing specifically in footwear. During the same years the Safranbolu
Tanners Company was about to complete a leather factory which unfortunately
functioned for only a very short period.
The change of fashion
in footwear and the mass production of less costly rubber shoes for the villagers
decreased the importance of shoe making. The semi-manufactured leather products
products could not compete with the products of the factories established in
various places in Anatolia. Finally, the establishment of the nearby Iron and Steel Factory nearly
brought an end leather manufacturing.
It is situated within a valley along a stream, the Tabakhane which means
tannery. It has its own mosque and coffee-house . The chemical content of the
water springing from beneath the mosque is suitable for tanning. The hides left
in natural or man-made pits alongside the valley mature within a certain period
of time. Tanning is a time consuming and wearying job. Those working in this
field were organised within the guild system. The best raw hides gathered from
the area were transformed into leather of the finest quality after being treated.
Traditional methods were employed in leather treatement. Today there are two
workshops using the traditional methods which operate from time to time along
with two others utilizing machinery.
The leather treated
in the tanneries was purchased by the shoemakers, saddlers and manufacturers
of leather goods.
place): The makers of lights shoes (yemeniciler) were gathered in the arasta
in their self-owned shops. There were a total of 46 shops in the arasta. Three
to five people worked in each of the tiny shops. Hung on strings, the light-shoes
were exhibited in the shops.
Several types of
shoes for men, women and children were produced at the beginning of the century.
These were mainly sold to shoe-merchants coming from the neighbourhood, who
arrived in Safranbolu with lots of animals and bundles. On Saturday afternoons
the shoe makers packed the shoes which they had produced during the week into
baskets and sold them to the wholesalers, who usually dropped by once every
two weeks. In spite of the hard work which sometimes kept them busy until dawn,
the shoe makers never became rich, but managed to sustain a modest life. Payments
to the tanner were due every November. Money was not used until then.
During the War
of Independence it was Safranbolu that supplied a great part of the army's need
for footwear. This alone is sufficient evidence of the effectiveness
of its shoe-making trade. In 1923, 15000 Ottoman liras worth of shoes were sold
to the neighbouring towns and villages.
In 1975 there
were a few shops still operating in the arasta.
Leather Workers: Horses and donkeys which were important means of transport
were used in great numbers in and Safranbolu 46. For this reason saddle and
harness making was a common field of production. The producers of saddles and
harnesses were gathered in two separate streets in the çarşı, called "semerciler
içi" and "saraçlar içi", names denoting the crafts excersised
within. It is known that in 1923 there were 120 people engaged in saddle-making.
There still are
a few saddle-makers today .
As each household
owned at least one or two saddle-horses, there was a suffıcient number of farriers
engaged in horse-shoeing.
even today exist in the market area, were in a well established branch of activity
in the old days. Farming equipment, metal parts of harnesses, tools for wood
and leather working, household utensils, tools and building elements such as
axes, adzes, gimlets, hammers, nails, screws, hinges, locks, door handles, door
knocks, iron hooks for window shutters latches and hooks etc...used in building
construction were manufactured in the ironmongers' market.
the copper market of the area. The shops which sell ready-made copperware today
formerly produced all these themselves.
CUSTOMS AND RELIGION
of life inspired by traditions, customs and religion is to be content with very
little. People of Safranbolu are thrifty; they have no tendency for luxury.
Simplicity is everywhere. They sit and work on the floor, sleep in laid on the
floor and eat at low tables. There is not much furniture in the homes. Even
ornamentation is mostly limited to the properties such as color and texture
of the materials used, thus preserving their natural appearance. Consequently
it is difficult to tell a rich man's house from a poor man's. In spite of simplicity,
however, there is an evident abundance. Food is plentiful and lots of variety;
rooms are many and large; even their houses are double, It is a healthy, problem-free
society all in all.
(Women's Quarters-Men's Quarters):
Religion and traditions
close the house to the outside world. For this reason the gardens and interiors
of houses are separated from the streets by high walls; the windows are latticed
. Women are not seen by men outside the household. Sometimes, even in the same
house, men and women live in separate quarters. There are examples of such houses
in Safranbolu, divided into men's and women’s quarters (selamlık, harem). Usually,
it is only the very rich who can to have this spatial organization. The Hacı
Memişler summer house is comprised of a harem and selamlık built side by side.
Among the examples studied in this book, the Kaymakamlar house is unique in
that it is provided with separate entrances for the harem and selamlık quarters,
on different floors and openings onto different streets. In the Hacı Salih Paşa
house also, there two separate entrances and staircases for the harem and selamlık
quarters. In other houses although there is a single entrance, a room which
is easily accessible from the staircase, without unnecessary intrusion into
the family life, is used as a selamlık. The selamlık rooms are treated with
special care. In the older examples these rooms have top windows and their ceilings
are decorated in a more sophisticated manner.
Cupboard: As in the old days, it was not desirable that a woman be looked
upon by a man from outside the household, even in her own home. Therefore special
arrangements were made to secure her privacy. One of these was the revolving
cupboard, designed so as to enable serving the men in the selamlık from the
harem quarters, without being seen. The plates, tableware or cups used for serving
food, coffee, syrups etc. were placed on the shelves ofthis revolving
cupboard which was built in a cabinet between the harem and selamlık quarters,
with doors opening to both sides. After turning the cupboard manually, anything
on the shelves could be fetched from the other side. This design shows how the
houses which do not have separate harem and selamlık or separate servants for
each, conform to traditions.
Pavilion: Some houses have a separate selamlık pavilion in their gardens
with one or more rooms. In most of them, there is a pool in the main sitting
area. Pools are also to be found in the selamlık rooms on the middle floor of
There are such
pools in both of the "şehir" houses of the Asmazlar. The parapet wall
is about 50 to 60 cms from the floor. There are divans(sitting platforms)
along the walls on all three sides. In the selamlık pavilion of Kurtlar summer
house there is a raised platform with pillars along the window wall and a small
fireplace for making coffee at one end of the pool-room.
The pavilion has
two separate rooms and a toilet-washroom. The windows are unglazed. The main
floor with the pond is the ground floor. In the Rauf Beyler house at the Bağlar
district there is a very impressive pavilion. Its strictly symmetrical plan
has an almost unique architectural concept with its two rooms with an eyvan
in between; its large pool surrounded by divans and the beautifully decorated
ceiling of the pool room which has a span of 8 metres.The selamlık pavilions
open onto the garden which is entered through a separate street door. When the
garden pavilion consists of a single room with a pool it is simply called "the
pool room". Usually these rooms -which contain a pool, a fountain, divans
and occasionally a small fireplace for making coffee- have a polygonal plan
In some houses
in the Bağlar district which do not have spring water, the pool is replaced
by a well, in which case the space is called the "well-room". With
the divans on all sides, these rooms have the same refreshing function as the
pool-rooms. Drinking water and fruits are chilled in the well.
The Moslem religion
demands that ablution should be performed five times a day, before each ritual
prayer. There are washrooms and ablution closets within the house for this purpose.
Each room, which is the basic living unit is provided with an area and facilities
for the performance of total ablution; a well thought- out solution from the
point of view of the intimacy of family life. Considering the close relation
between the two, the toilet is generally combined with the wash-room.
As a consequence
of traditions, water used for washing dishes is never mixed with the sewage.
It is either collected in a separate pool or runs freely through a wooden gutter
into the garden. No specific space has been allocated for worship within the
house. It is believed that the ritual prayers (namaz) can be performed anywhere
that is clean enough.