Ottoman town celebrates 26th anniversary of being on UNESCO heritage list
Safranbolu, a district of the Black Sea province of Karabük that has become famous for its preserved historical buildings from the Ottoman period, marks the 26th anniversary of its entry into the UNESCO World Heritage List on Dec. 17.
After almost two decades of being declared an urban site on Dec. 17, 1994, UNESCO decided to add the Safranbolu district to its list of World Heritage sites, permanently etching its place in history. Together with Istanbul, it became one of the first places in Turkey to be included in the world heritage list on a city level.
The town’s identity changed after it gained world heritage status as the abandoned historical mansions that are the most important building blocks of Turkish urban culture were opened for use, deteriorated cobblestones were rebuilt, monumental buildings were restored, and nearly-forgotten handicrafts were revived.
Thanks to its success in protecting the riches of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, millions of tourists visited the city in 26 years, where 1.3 million people visited just last year, including excursionists.
There are about 2,000 traditional homes in the city, 800 of which are officially protected by the government, and among the historical buildings that attract tourists include frame houses, mosques, inns, Turkish bathhouses, fountains and shrines.
Safranbolu is also home to many celebrated buildings such as the Cinci Inn and Turkish Bath, Köprülü Mehmet Paşa, İzzet Mehmet Paşa, Dağdelen, Hidayetullah and Kaçak (Lütfiye) mosques, İncekaya Aqueduct, Old Government Office, Clock Tower, and Yemeniciler Bazaar.
The bazaar, made up of 48 stalls and built in 1661 by Grand Vizier Köprülü Mehmet Paşa in order to fund the foundation which formed a part of his namesake mosque, is one of the most characteristic parts of the town.
Speaking to the reporters, Karabük Governor Fuat Gürel said that Safranbolu, which has a history of 3,000 years, was one of the important cultural heritage of Turkey.
Noting that the district is the only place in the country on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Gürel expressed that those who want to travel back in time prefer Safranbolu.
“Since Safranbolu is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, tourism mobility is high. Safranbolu is one of the leading cities that should be protected not only in the region and Turkey but also in the world. Being on the list is the biggest indicator of this,” Gürel said.
He emphasized that nearly 1.3 million local and foreign tourists visited Safranbolu last year, including excursionists, but due to the pandemic, this goal has been avoided this year.