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Safranbolu

 

 
Safranbolu is a sub-provincial centre in the north-western Black Sea region.
 
Safranbolu and its environment have been an area of settlement ever since the Paleolithic Age. Homeros referred 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. Various rock-tombs and a Roman temple in the village of Sipahiler, south of Safranbolu, are among the tangible evidences of these periods. There is no trace of either the Roman or the Byzantine era within the city of Safranbolu. Neither is there any reference to its name during these periods. According to the historian Leonard ,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.
 
Turks came to this region at the 12th century during the reign of the Danışmentliler. Later it was recaptured by the Byzantines. The Cobanogulları settled here at the beginning of the 13th century. Then the chieftain of Candarogulları from the tribe of Kayı settled at Eflani towards the end of the 13th century. He was loyal first to the Seljuk and then to the Ilhanlis. They were independent for a short period at the beginning of the 15th  century and stayed in power until 1461. Then they became loyal to the Ottomans. The name of the city has been believed to be Zalifre or Zalifra during that period. Old Mosque, Suleyman Pahsa Madrasa and Old Bath in Safranbolu are all from the period of the Candarogulları.  Starting from the Candarogulları period, for a long time under the Ottoman rule, Safranbolu was referred to as Taraklı Borlu.  The names Zagfiran Borlu and later Zagfiranbolu were used from the start of the 18th century onwards.
 
There are around 30 mosques in Safranbolu. The oldest one is the Suleyman Pahsa Mosque  from the Candarogulları period (14th century). The other most important ones are Koprulu Mehmet Pahsa mosque (1662) and Izzet Mehmet Pahsa mosque (1779).The Suleyman Pahsa Madrasa (14th century) of which only the foundations exists today, is the only educational building  that is worth noting.Cinci Hodja Caravanserai (17th century), Old Bath ( 14th  century), New Bath ( 17th  century) are among widely known structures in the area. In addition, approximately 180 fountains and 15 bridges can be listed.
 
Today Safranbolu is famous for its worldwide known traditional houses with their spaciousness, regular and steady construction, large gardens with numerous fruit trees and ponds (either in open air or within pavilions).
Traditionally, there existed Harem-Selamlık (Women`s Quarter-Men`s Quarter) in some of these houses. Due to religious  and traditional causes, these houses were closed to the outside world. The gardens and interiors of houses were separated from the streets by high walls and the windows were latticed . Thus women were not seen by men from outside the house. Sometimes, even in the same house, men and women lived in separate quarters. Those rooms in men’s quarter generally had top windows and their ceilings were decorated in a more sophisticated manner.
 
Since it was not desirable that a woman be seen by a man from outside the house and sometimes even in her own home, special arrangements were made to secure her privacy. One of these was the revolving cupboard that was designed so as to enable women to serve the men in the men’s quarter from the” harem” quarter 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 in a cabinet between two quarters with doors opening to both sides. After turning the cupboard manually, anything on the shelves could be fetched from the other side.Some houses had a separate “selamlık” pavilion in their gardens with one or more rooms. In most of them, there was a pool in the main sitting area. Pools are also seen in the “selamlık” rooms on the middle floor of some houses.
 
In the Moslem religion, ablution should be performed five times a day before each ritual for pray. There were washrooms and ablution closets within the houses for this purpose. The toilet was generally combined with the wash-room. Safranbolu today has several beautiful examples of these old traditional houses.
 
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