Safranbolu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was designated a heritage site in 1994 for its cultural heritage inherited from the Ottoman Empire. The city is located in the north of Anatolia, in the Western Black Sea Region, and it has a permanent population of 60,000 inhabitants.
The city first came to prominence in 1976 through the broadcasting of a documentary film titled “Safranbolu: Reflections of Time” by Suha Arin. Safranbolu is a unique city that represents all traditional characteristics of Turkish social life by depicting its original historical and cultural environment. Safranbolu’s primary attraction is its Ottoman-style wooden houses, inherited from the eighteenth century. There are a total of 1490 protected structures in the city including historical houses, monuments, and religious buildings. These structures include the public buildings such as Cinci Hodja Kervansaray and Cinci Hodja Hamam, Mosques of Koprulu Mehmet and Izzet Mehmet Pashas, the Tennaries Clock tower, Old hospital premises, the guild of shoe makers, the Incekaya aqueduct, the old city hall and fountains as well as hundreds of private residences. Rock tombs and tumulus just outside the city are also of interest.
Based on a very old history and a rich culture, the city was a center of economic prosperity during the strongest period of the Ottoman Empire. Safranbolu hosted many civilizations including the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires throughout its history. During the Ottoman era the town served as an important junction on the Kastamonu - Gerede (Bolu)- Istanbul route of the famous silk road.
The city received its name from the saffron plant. The powder extracted from its flower is a very strong dye. Used in very small quantities, saffron adds a delicate flavor, distinct aroma and a very unique color to desserts and other food in the Turkish Cuisine.
Safranbolu has been an important cultural/heritage tourism destination for domestic and international visitors. Tourism flourished rapidly, increasing by an average of 10% in the last 20 years. In 2015, 800,000 tourists visited Safranbolu, of whom 190,000 were domestic, 54,000 were international, and 500.000-550.000 excursionists more or less. Majority of the foreign visitors were Chinese, Taiwanese, South Korean, Japanese, and German tourists in 2015.
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