A World City: Safranbolu
Safranbolu is a renowned quality city with its traditional Turkish houses which are good examples of civil Ottoman architecture, natural beauty and historical dimension. Its rich cultural heritage and the success of the protection of its heritage on the city scale has made Safranbolu “World City” and it has been taken in 17 December 1994 in the World Heritage List by UNESCO. Its history dates back to 3000’s BC and the exact date of settlement in the city of Safranbolu is unknown. The city is also famous with its delicious Turkish delights and saffron flower which gave its name to the city.
When Safranbolu is mentioned, the first thing that comes to our mind is Safranbolu houses which are living its all glory today and bring Safranbolu fame in Turkey and all around the world. Safranbolu houses reflect all features of civil Ottoman architectural. There are approximately 2000 traditional Turkish houses at the centre of the town which built during 18th, 19th, and at the beginning of 20th centuries. 1000 of those houses are under legal protection. Houses are grouped into two separate regions of Safranbolu.
There is a part which is known as ‘city’ and was used as winter residence. The other one is known as ‘Bağlar’ and was used as summer residence. Safranbolu houses mostly were constructed near the valleys which are not arable and designed in order not to hamper one another’s sunshine and view. The people of the area live in city center in winter and when the weather gets warmer they move to the summer house.
Traditional houses in Safranbolu are mostly 3 floors, 6 or 8 rooms. Houses designed for the convenience of people living in it. Every room is designed to meet needs of the family. There are cupboards, called ’yüklük’ shelves, furnaces and sofas in every room. In each room consists the wardrobes and they are used for ablution like today’s shower cabins. Another detail is Safranbolu houses are wooden decorated.
Safranbolu houses don’t uniformity due to the overhang. The number of narrow and long windows differs according to size of the room and they are covered with wooden cages called ‘muşabak’. Some of the houses have pools for coolness and in order to protect against fire. Generally, stone is used downstairs, adobe is used upstairs, and tiles in the Ottoman style are used in roofs. The floor of the entrance is called ’Hayat’ (life), if it is stone it is called ‘taşlık’ (made of stone).
Saffron flower, gave its name to the city and the top quality in the flower of the saffron is grown in Safranbolu, is a rare plant that has the title of world’s most expensive spice. Saffron can dye a fluid 100.000 (one hundred thousand) times its own weight. It’s used pharmacy, cosmetic, and food industry. For a half kilogramme saffron, 80 thousand of flowers are needed. The usable part of saffron is the seeds of its flower so that it is very difficult to grow. It is as expensive as gold.
It is planted in August-September and it blooms at the end of November and in December. Saffron flowers must be collected fast before sunrise because flowers, which bloom only 1 week during harvest term, wither under sunlight in a day.
Turkish Delight With Saffron
If you come to Safranbolu you should taste the world-famous Turkish delight. Safranbolu delight is different from the others because it’s less sweet and lighter. The hardness of water which in terms of being rich-mineral and used natural sugar distinguish to Safranbolu delight. Various types of Turkish delight in the city; coconut, hazelnut, double blasted, saffron, gum drops and with rose.