Safranbolu, a touristic district of Karabuk province, was included in the World Heritage list in 1994. Safranbolu houses and mansions have details adorned with extraordinary architecture bearing the traces of Ottoman Empire’s culture.
The city, located in the northwest of Anatolia, is in the region named "Paphlogonia" in the past. Safranbolu, which has more than 1200 historical artifacts, took its name from the rare saffron plant that grows in that region. When we look at the city’s history, we see that it has hosted many civilizations, including the Ottoman Empire. The beginning of urban settlement in Safranbolu is not known exactly, but the history of the city dates back to 3000 BC.
Reflecting the Ottoman architecture, Safranbolu houses are one of the main buildings that continue keeping Turkish urban culture alive today. There are more than 2000 Turkish houses in the city and the features of these houses are very interesting.
The houses, which attract attention with their unique architecture, have 2 or 3 floors. Wood, stone, adobe, and Turkish style tiles are used in their construction. The windows of the houses do not face the windows of the neighbor’s house as they are designed in a way not to block each other’s sun.
Wooden railings on narrow but numerous windows ensure that the inside of the house is not visible from the outside but the outside can be seen from inside. Due to the traditional extended family type in Turkish culture, all the houses are quite large.
The ground floor is used for provisions and the animals that the household feeds; there are also areas where the collected wood is stored.
In Safranbolu houses, there is also a large pool in the center of the common use area. Thanks to the sound of water, the long conversations in the room where this pool is located could not be heard by the people in the other room.
It is possible to see wooden windows opening outwards in most of the houses to make escape and intervention easier in the case of fire in the house.
Due to the rainy weather of the region, the roofs of the houses were made with long eaves.
Safranbolu houses are separated from the road by a one-meter-high stone wall. Houses have a large wooden door and usually have two-sided entrances. This reflects the custom of “haremlik selamlik” (women and men sitting separately) in the Ottoman Empire.
Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. The best quality of the saffron flower is grown in Safranbolu. It is known that saffron requires remarkable effort to cultivate and maintain. It has the potential to dye a liquid up to a hundred thousand times its own weight to yellow. It is also used in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic industries.
Safranbolu is one of the places that have made a name for Turkish delight. The fact that it is lighter than other Turkish delights and the use of mineral-rich natural Safranbolu waters have made it famous.