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Fouilltes de Sagalassos

City of Safranbolu

on 01/09/2013

Safranbolu

       Safranbolu is a typical Ottoman city that has survived to the present day. It also displays an interesting interaction between the topography and the historic settlement. By virtue of its key role in the caravan trade over many centuries, Safranbolu enjoyed great prosperity and as a result it set a standard in public and domestic architecture that exercised a great influence on urban development over a large area of the Ottoman Empire. The architectural forms of the buildings and the streets are illustrative of their period. The caravan trade was for centuries the main commercial link between the Orient and Europe. As a result, towns of a characteristic type grew up along its route. With the coming of railways in the 19th century, these towns abruptly lost their raison d’être, and most of them were adapted to other economic bases. Safranbolu was not affected in this way and as a result has preserved its original form and buildings to a remarkable extent.

The site of Safranbolu has been occupied by human settlements since prehistory, as evidenced by rock-cut tombs. The Turks conquered the town in the 11th century and in the 13th century it became an important caravan station on the main east-west trade route. Surviving buildings from this early period include the Old Mosque, Old Bath, and Medresse of Süleyman Pasha, all built in 1322.

The caravan trade reached its apogee in the 17th century, when the central market was extended to meet the requirements of travellers. Many buildings survive from this period, including the Cinci Inn with its 60 guestrooms (1640-48), Koprülü Mosque (1661) and Let Pasha Mosque (1796), as well as many stores, stables and baths. Changes in trading structures and the advent of the railways brought this long period of prosperity to an end in the early 20th century. The town underwent a period of economic deprivation until the building of the Karabük steelworks, which provided a great deal of employment in the region.

Safranbolu consists of four distinct districts: the market place area of the inner city, known as Çukur (The Hole), the area of Kıranköy, Bağlar (The Vineyards), and an area of more recent settlement outside the historic area. The original Turkish settlement was immediately in the south of the citadel and developed to the south-east.

Çukur is so named because it lies in the lower part of the town; its centre is the market place, which is surrounded by the houses and workshops of craftsmen, such as leather workers, blacksmiths, saddlers and shoemakers, and textile workers. The area is triangular in shape, defined by two rivers.

Kıranköy was formerly a non-Muslim district, with a socio-architectural pattern similar to that in contemporary European towns, in fact the craftsmen and tradesmen living above their workshops, cellars used for winemaking and storage, etc. The pattern of settlement in Bağlar is one of single houses set within large gardens.

The streets in Çukur and Kıranköy are narrow and curved, following contours. They are surfaced with stone paving, sloping inwards to evacuate surface water. The older houses are half-timbered, the spaces between the timbers being filled with various materials (clay, brick, etc.). There are no windows on the street frontage, so that the stone walls resemble extensions of garden walls; the main rooms are on the first floor. Many of the ceilings are lavishly carved and painted.


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