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Tucked into the hills two hours north of Ankara is one of Turkey's loveliest treasures, a preserved slice of Ottoman past that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once a wealthy trading town, it was known for its golden saffron fields—from which the city derives its name. In the 18th and 19th centuries Safranbolu's merchants built stunning timber and stone mansions, a large number of which remain intact. Great efforts have been put into preserving these houses and their surroundings, and as a result the town's historic atmosphere feels pleasantly authentic.
Safranbolu is essentially divided into three parts: hidden in a wide ravine is the historic center, called Çarşı (bazaar); cars are banned here, artisans ply their crafts in open storefronts, and old Ottoman houses line the cobblestone streets. The modern town, Kıranköy, is just above the valley, while the outlying Bağlar neighborhood, on the slopes of a small mountain overlooking the city, is where the wealthy had their summer homes in Ottoman times. The Çarşı area has the most to see and do, and it's here and in Bağlar that old houses have been turned into charming hotels. The Kıranköy section has little of interest but has modern necessities like banks and bus offices.
Safranbolu at a Glance
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