The environs of Safranbolu have been an area of settlement ever since
the Paleolithic Age3. There are three large tumulus around Eflani. Homeros
refers 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. The 24 tumuli in the Safranbolu-Eflani region various
rock-tombs, reliefs and a Roman temple in the village of Sipahiler, south of
Safranbolu, are among the tangible evidence 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. The historian Leonard
suggests that 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 saffrons. Osman Turan writes that
the city was named Dadybra before it was taken over by the Turks.
After the Turks came to Anatolia, the history of Safranbolu developed in
relation to that of Kastamonu. This region was first occupied by the Turks at
the start of the 12th century, during the reign of the Danismentliler. Later
it was recaptured by the Byzantines, but the Cobanogullari settled here at the
beginning of the 13th century. At the start, the Cobanogullari were loyal to the
Seljuks, then, to the Ilhanlilar. The chieftain of Candarogullari from the tribe
of Kayi, established at Eflani towards the end of the 13th century , was also
loyal first to the Seljuks, then to the Ilhanlis; was independent for a short
period at the beginning of the 15th century, and stayed in power until 1461,
then becoming loyal to the Ottomans. The name of the city is believed to be
Zalifre or Zalifra during that period. The Eski Cami, Suleyman Pasa Madrasa
and Eski Hamam (Old Baths) in Safranbolu are from the period of the
Candarogullari. All through these periods and later, in the Ottoman era,
Kastamonu has always been the regional centres. Starting from the Candarogullari
period, for a long time under the Ottoman rule Safranbolu was referred to as
Tarakli Borlu. The names Zagfiran Borlu and later Zagfiranbolu were used from the
start of the 18th Century onwards.
Documentary research on the history of Safranbolu during the Ottoman period
is very scarce. Some names may emerge when we look at its historical buildings;
Cinci Hoca, Koprulu Mehmet Pasa, Izzet Mehmet Pasa being among the prominent
people who have left their mark on Safranbolu.
HISTORICAL BUILDINGS OF SIGNIFICANCE
No records have yet been encountered regarding any buildings from the
Byzantine times in Safranbolu. Probably, the Hagios Stephanos church (Ulucami)
in Kirankoy was built by Theodora. The Eski Cami mosque may have been
transformed from a Byzantine church. The remains of buildings belonging to the
Turks start from the Candarogullari period. These have undergone various repairs
and transformations through time. Only the most significant buildings are listed
There are around 30 mosques. The oldest one is the Suleyman Pasa Camii
(Eski Cami) mosque from the Candarogullari period (14th century). The other most
important ones are Koprulu Mehmet Pasa mosque (1662), Izzet Mehmet Pasa
The Suleyman Pasa Madrasa (14th century) of which only the foundations
exist today, is the only educational building worth noting.
Cinci Hoca Hani (Cinci Hodja Caravanserai 17th century), Eski Hamam (Old Baths
14th century), Yeni Hamam (New Baths, 17th century). In addition to these
buildings, approximately 180 fountains and 15 bridges can be listed.
Looking at these structures, we can assume that Safranbolu began to gain
significance in the 14th century .It attracted the attention of some prominent
statesmen starting from the 17th century through the 18th century; and since
then, with the increase in its own economic power, continued to add many more
buildings, mostly small mosques and fountains, to the existing stock.
TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION IN THE PAST
In order to evaluate how and to what extent Safranbolu was influenced by its
environment near and far, it is necessary to take a brief look at the systems of
transport and means of communication with the outside world in the past.
Safranbolu was in contact with its environment both by land and sea. In the 17th
century, part of the caravan route of Istanbul-Bolu-Gerede-Tosya-Amasya-Tokat-
Sivas used to start from Gerede and reach Sinop passing through Safranbolu and
Kastamonu. This means that Safranbolu was an important stop-over point before
Kastamonu, on the Gerede-Sinop route. Cinci Ham (Caravanserai) was built for
this purpose. The large size of the Han can give us an idea as to the intensity
of the traffic on this route. Amasra was the safest seaport for Safranbolu.
However, maritime transport was conducted via Bartm, due to its proximity.
Travellers starting from Safranbolu on horse-back, reached Bartm at the end of
the second day, where they awaited the ship and suitable weather. For this
reason, large caravanserais of 20 to 30 rooms were built in Bartin. The distance
of 10 kms, between Bartin and the ship was covered in four hours by boats, towed
down the river. The sea route was mainly used for travels to istanbul from
Safranbolu. Mulesmen "consignee" carrying goods to Istanbul commuted
between Safranbolu and Bartin.
The second link with Istanbul was provided by land. This was a more tiring
route. Accompanied by the mulesmen, the travellers stopped over at Viransehir
(Eskipazar) the first night and stopping overnight at Gerede, Bolu and Duzce
they arrived at Hendek on the fifth night. On the sixth day they took a train
from Adapazari and finally reached Istanbul on the seventh day. Before there
were any railroads they probably either took a boat from Izmit, or continued
their way overland. In 1924 the journey to Kastamonu lasted.22 hours, to
Zonguldak 24 hours and 26 hours to Bolu. Meanwhile the construction of an
automobile route between Safranbolu and Bartin had begun. The bus trip to
Istanbul over Ismetpasa-Gerede took 13 hours even in the 1940s .
Relations with Istanbul must have been very old. Cinci Hoca (?-1948) a native
of Safranbolu built the big Han in Safranbolu after being affiliated with the
Palace and being appointed the Chief Military Judge for Anatolia. Later, one of
the most powerful viziers of the Ottoman Empire, Koprulu Mehmet Pasa
(1575-1661), had a mosque built in Safranbolu. Izzet Mehmet Pasa (1743-1812) of
Safranbolu who was also promoted to the rank of vizier in 1794, had a big mosque
built bearing his name, in Safranbolu in 1796. These examples reflect the
cultural relations between Safranbolu and Istanbul through the 17th and 18th
centuries. It is only natural that these relations should have influenced
greatly the cultural life and art of Safranbolu. On the other hand, people from
the environs of Safranbolu, especially from the Yoruk village, who went to
work in Istanbul in the 15th and 16th centuries were mostly engaged in the
bakeries industry. This tradition continues even today. Constant relations and
communication between Safranbolu and Istanbul was in a way provided by the
mulesmen. These people who were also called consignees carried people and goods
between Safranbolu and Istanbul as well as distributing money-orders, mail and
After Istanbul, the second most intense relation was with Kastamonu; for up
to 1927 it was this provincial centre that Safranbolu was administratively
attached to. As for the relation with its surrounding villages and towns,
Safranbolu constituted an important centre for them. Villagers had to come here
for their official affairs, apart from bringing their products to the market. On
the other hand, tradesmen from Safranbolu went to the neighbouring villages and
towns to sell their goods. The most important market was in Eflani. In addition
to Eskipazar, Ovacuma, Toprakcuma some of them went as far as Gerede, Bartin,
Daday, Cerkes, Arac, Kastamonu and Kizilcahamam, so as to market their
goods. They usually travelled in groups.
The villagers used to work as sharecroppers in the fields outside Safranbolu,
owned by the people of Safranbolu. Occasionally they came to the city , either
to give a hand during the seasonal migration or to work in the larger orchards
and vineyards at vintage time.
Transport in the Recent History: Horses and donkeys were the only means of
transport in the city, even in the 1940s. Animals were always used for commuting
between the Baglar region and-sehir in the summer. Grains, straw, firewood,
furniture and almost everything else were also carried on donkey or horse-back.
In those years there were 22 cars, 12 buses, 13 trucks and 11 minibuses in
Safranbolu. Passengers were regularly carried between Karabuk and Bartin.
Communication as well as transport gained speed after the introduction of
railways to Karabuk in 1935.
POPULATION AND HOUSING
The oldest records regarding the population date back to the 19th century.
Ainsworth says that in 1838 there were 3000 houses belonging to the Moslem
population and 250 houses belonging to the Christians; 150-200 houses in the
Baglar and Bulak districts and around 150 houses in the Tokatli Baglar district.
These figures may not be very accurate simply because, due to the misleading
impression produced by the varying perspectives resulting from the topography of
Safranbolu, Ainsworth may have overestimated its size. Mordtmann for his part,
mentions 2000 Moslem houses and 250 Christian houses in 1852. This also is an
exaggerated estimation. Cuinet, in his book dated 1894, mentions 1500 houses and
a population of 7500, 4705 of which were Moslems and 2795 Greeks. Semseddin
Sami assumes the population to be 8000 in his book dated 1894. Ali Cevad gives
the same figure, 8000, including 1500 Greeks for the year 1895. Leonard makes a
guess at 500 Greek and 2000 Turkish houses in 1903. Yalkin lists 1766 houses in
the sehir and 1075 houses in the Baglar districts in 1940.
The Greeks were mainly engaged in trading, shoe-making, tailoring and masonry
and they spoke Turkish. They did not have separate summer houses. During the
mutual exchange of populations they went to Greece.
During the 1965 census there were 1140 houses in the sehir, 249 in the
Kirankoy and 912 in the Baglar regions, making a total of 2301.
From 1927 onwards (the first census after the founding of the Republic in
1923) accurate figures regarding the population were obtained at regular
We are not informed about the number and characteristics of the population
before the end of the 19th century. Studying the distribution of the buildings
of significance within the city we can assume that the settlement started in and
around the castle and soon spread out, filling the valley. It must have been
only after the increase of wealth and security that the orchards were
transformed into summer settlements, thus creating the Baglar district. Probably
the population never exceeded 10,000, even in the old days.
It can well be said that apart from the local dignitaries (beys),
administrators and the Greeks, Safranbolu had a homogeneous social structure. The high level of
income and the self-sufficient economy of the period secured this. The fact that
each family owned two houses (winter and summer) is an evidence of the
homogeneity of social status. Production and trade mutually controlled and
supported one other, within a guild system. Social stratification began to
emerge only after the guild system was abondoned; the economic system began to
disintegrate and the Iron and Steel Factory was installed nearby.
The distribution of the population according to various social strata today
is as follows: labourers 37 %; civil servants 20 %; small tradesmen 11 %;
craftsmen 8 %; merchants 4 %; farmers 1 % and 19 % in various other groups.
There are some nomadic villages around Safranbolu: the main ones being Yoruk,
Hacilarobasi and Davutobasi. Apart from those who settled down in 1935
there were some tribes (Tahtaci and Cepniler) that continued their nomadic way
In the Ottoman Turkey of the 1850s there were 32 provinces (eyalet), 125 sub-provinces (liva) and 1234 townships. Safranbolu was a township of the Kastamonu
province. The other sub-provinces were Kocaeli, Bolu, Sinop and Viranehir.
Viransehir was transformed into a township after 1860.
In 1927 Safranbolu ceased to be administratively attached to Kastamonu. It
became a township of Zonguldak.
The most important educational building of old times was the Candaroglu
Suleyman Pasa Madrasa (14th century), a big and significant building for its
period. It was a madrasa of the 16th century where tutors received a
considerably high perdiem (20 akce's); this being an indication of its level.
As this madrasa was repaired under the reign of Sultan Abdulmecit in 1846, it
must have continued to be an educational centre up to the end of the 19th
century. Koprulu Mehmet Pasa madrasa, which was later demolished was adjacent
to the arasta (market). In the 19th century the existing Koran schools and
kindergartens were reorganized as primary schools. During the same century,
schools were opened for first and second level secondary education. The first
level secondary schools which were opened in Safranbolu between 1910 and 1915
were closed down in 1924 due to the scarcity of pupils. Cuinet lists 12 madrasa,
1 secondary school, 170 Moslem and 8 Greek primary schools within the boundaries
of the township; while .S. Sami refers to 12 madrasa, 1 first level and 1 second
level secondary school, 173 Moslem and 3 Greek primary schools. In Safranbolu,
as soon as they were 4 years, 4 months and 10 days old, every Moslem boy and
girl were subjected to a special ceremony of initation to school, in the
presence of a "reputed learned person" of the vicinity, during which
each of them recited the "besmele", the first sentence of the Koran.
This apparently shows the traditional importance attributed to education by the
people of Safranbolu.
According to the Salname of 1317 i.e. (1901) of S. Sami, there were two
libraries in Safranbolu. Some of the other institutions which played a role in
the cultural life of the Ottomans were the dervish lodges (tekkes). The Kalealti
(1550) and Haydar Aga Lodges of the Naksibendi religious order and the Ali Baba
lodge (1824) of the halvati religious order are those known today.
The guild system was also an important institution which apart from providing
vocational training, taught the principles of proper behaviour and ethics. The
existence of a well organised cinema in 1924 indicates that the society was of a
certain cultural level.
Safranbolu owns the richest heritage of folklore in the area. Its traditions,
customs, folk-tales, folk-songs, music and folk-dances are each worth thorough
research. We can trace the characteristic features of the Turkish society behind
each and every one of these folkloric items.
While studying the houses of Safranbolu, their spaciousness; their regular
and steady construction; the wealth of their spatial organization; their large
gardens with numerous fruit trees and ponds (either in open air or within
pavilions); the fact that each family owned a summer and a winter house; plus
the dignity , elegance and self-esteem of its people, all induce us to search
for the causes of this prosperity.
As a result of the self -sufficient economic system prevailing in the city ,
each family produces its own food. This consists of vegetables, fruit and food
which is prepared and stored for seasonal consumption. Meat, oil and sugar is
purchased from elsewhere. Most people of Safranbolu .own fields in the vicinity
of the city. Formerly, there were extensive rice fields on the land where the
Iron and Steel Factory is now situated. Wheat, barley, rice and straw came from
these fields cultivated by the sharecroppers.
Saffron: As the city takes its name from this flower and as it is
still grown in the area, it will be appropriate to dwell in more detail on
saffron. A member of the iridaceae family, saffron (crocus sativus L.) is a
bulbous plant, in many ways resembling colchicum, with its pinkish purple
flowers. It blooms in the months of September and October. The tips of its
female organ (the stigma) are picked at dawn. The plant flowers a year after
being planted. After its flowers have been picked for two succeeding years, the
plant is rooted out. Tips gathered from 100,000 flowers add up to only a weight
of 1 kg.
Utilization: Having dyeing and medicinal properties, saffron is used
in pharmaceuticals, dyeing and also as a flavouring in cooking. It is capable of
colouring water a hundred thousand times its weight.
History: Homeros and Hippocrates refer to saffron. It has been
cultivated in Iran and Kashmir for ages. The Mongolians introduced saffron to
China, the Arabs to $pain and the Crusaders to the rest of Europe. In Ancient
Greece and Rome it was chewed for its essence and medicinal properties and was
also used as a dye. Areas of Cultivation: Saffron is grown in Spain, France,
Sicily, the outskirts of the Appenines, Iran and Kashmif. In Turkey it is
cultivated in Istanbul, Izmir, Safranbolu, Adana and Bilecik. In three of the
villages of Safranbolu (Akveren, Ogulveren and Davutobast) some of the families
are still engaged in saffron production.
Economy: Satisfactory records regarding the economic value of saffron
at the beginning of this century have not yet been revealed. We know that at the
end of the 19th century the October harvest of saffron was exported to Syria and
Egypt from Safranbolu39. In 1923, 3200 Ottoman liras worth of saffron was sold
to Ankara and Istanbu14°. Today, because the saffron grown in Turkey does not
suffice to meet the internal demand, it is supplemented by imports.
In general, each household in the city owns a cow which is mainly kept for
its milk. Every morning the herd is collected by a cowherd. The Angora goat is
the most extensively husbanded animal in the area42. Yogurt and butter are
produced from milk. The male animals are preferred for slaughter. In Safranbolu,
it is not customary to consume mutton. In autumn, "kavurma " a braised
preserved meat, is prepared from goat's meat, to be consumed during the months
when no fresh meat is available. Animal husbandry is also important for the
other by-products: wool, hair and hide.
One other important area of production in the old times was bee-keeping
exercised on the high plateaus. Honey was used as a substitute for sugar while
honeywax was exported 43. Honeywax was also utilized locally as a subsidiary
element by the shoe-makers.
The most significant area of production in Safranbolu was leather and
leather goods. There is no records as to when leather production actually began
in Safranbolu. It can be assumed however that the valley of the Tabakhane stream
has long been used for leather-tanning, being extremely suitable from many
aspects: the topography both conceals the unattractive sight of the tannery and
prevents the unpleasant odours from reaching the main settlement areas while the
stream provides a natural recipient for contaminated water. The Ottomans were at
a considerably advanced level in leather manufacturing until the end of the 18th
century. Mordtmann notes that leather manufacturing had an economic value for
Safranbolu in 1852 and 84 tanneries are listed in 1890. Considering that the
population was around 7500 during the same period, leather tanning appears to be
a very intensive area of manufacture 44. Being somewhat protected from external
influences along with the delayed impact of industrialization on leather
manufacturing this line of production continued to prosper in Safranbolu up to
the middle of the 201h century. Although the guilds were abolished by law in
1910 it was quite some time before their influence within the traditions died
out. Later the export of partly treated leather to Europe became profitable and
many a rich merchant emerged from amongst those in this trade. According to the
booklet published by the Safranbolu Chamber of Commerce and Industry , 415
workers were employed in a hundred tanneries. 430 people worked as shoe-makers,
slipper-makers and in leather tailoring. Semi-manufactured leather of various
kinds, graded from very fine to coarse leather worth 84.600 Ottoman liras were
exported while 17.900 Ottoman liras worth of glazed and patent leather was
imported from Europe. Hides of cows, bulls, goats and sheep worth 56.000 Ottoman
liras were purchased from the area. There were 16 merchants dealing in leather
goods in general and 5 merchants dealing specifically in footwear. During the
same years the Safranbolu Tanners Company was about to complete a leather
factory which unfortunately functioned for only a very short period.
The change of fashion in footwear and the mass production of less costly
rubber shoes for the villagers decreased the importance of shoe making. The
semi- manufactured leather products could not compete with the products of the
factories established in various places in Anatolia. Finally, the establishment
of the nearby Iron and Steel Factory nearly brought an end to leather
The Tannery: It is situated within a valley along a stream, the
Tabakhane which means tannery. It has its own mosque and coffee-house. The chemical content of the water springing from beneath the mosque is
suitable for tanning. The hides left in natural or man-made pits alongside the
valley mature within a certain period of time. Tanning is a time consuming and
wearying job. Those working in this field were organised within the guild
system. The best raw hides gathered from the area were transformed into leather
of the finest quality after being treated. Traditional methods were employed in
leather treatement. Today there are two workshops using the traditional methods
which operate from time to time along with two others utilizing machinery .
The leather treated in the tanneries was purchased by the shoemakers,
saddlers and manufacturers of leather goods.
Arasta (market place): The makers of lights shoes (yemeniciler) were
in the arasta in their self-owned shops. There were a total of 46 shops in the
arasta. Three to five people worked in each of the tiny shops. Hung on strings,
the light-shoes were exhibited in the shops.
Several types of shoes for men, women and children were produced at the
beginning of the century. These were mainly sold to shoe-merchants coming from
the neighbourhood, who arrived in Safranbolu with lots of animals and bundles.
On Saturday afternoons the shoe makers packed the shoes which they had produced
during the week into baskets and sold them to the wholesalers, who usually
dropped by once every two weeks. In spite of the hard work which sometimes kept
them busy until dawn, the shoe makers never became rich, but managed to sustain
a modest life. Payments to the tanner were due every November. Money was not
used until then.
During the War of Independence it was Safranbolu that supplied a great part
of the army's need for footwear. This alone is sufficient evidence of the
effectiveness of its shoe-making trade. In 1923, 15000 Ottoman liras worth of
shoes were sold to the neighbouring towns and villages.
In 1975 there werea few shops still operating in the arasta.
Saddlers and Leather Workers: Horses and donkeys which were important
means of transport were used in great numbers in and Safranbolu. For this
reason saddle and harness making was a common field of production. The producers
of saddles and harnesses were gathered in two separate streets in the carsi,
called "semerciler ici" and "saraclar ici", names
denoting the crafts excersised within. It is known that in 1923 there were 120
people engaged in saddle-making.
There still are a few saddle-makers today.
As each household owned at least one or two saddle-horses, there was a
sufficient number of farriers engaged in horse-shoeing.
Ironmongers, which even today exist in the market area, were in a well-
established branch of activity in the old days. Farming equipment, metal parts
of harnesses, tools for wood and leather working, household utensils, tools and
building elements such as axes, adzes, gimlets, hammers, nails, screws, hinges,
locks, door handles, door knocks, iron hooks for window shutters latches and
hooks etc. ..used in building construction were manufactured in the ironmongers'
Safranbolu was the copper market of the area. The shops which sell ready-made
copperware today formerly produced all these themselves.
The Textile Manufacture
Cotton Weaving: Weaving was a domestic activity. Although it was a
product of the self -sufficient household economy the excess produce was sold
and yarn was bought with that money. At the beginning of the century there were
looms for weaving in one forth of the houses but they had already abandoned the
habit of spinning their own yarn. That is why it was bought from outside. It was
generally the thickly-woven cloth which had a market value. This was sold to the
merchant who in turn got it dyed. Those dyed indigo were used by the villagers
for making men's trousers while those with various designs printed on them were
used by the village women for making pleated trousers (salvar) for their own
use. They were also utilized as quilt covers and bundle wraps. The finer cloth
bought by the merchants was made either into table-cloths or scarves with
imprinted designs. Striped cloth was mostly used for upholstery.
In 1923, 72.500 Ottoman liras worth of cotton yarn was imported. Within the
same year cloth was being woven on 350 looms and a revenue of 21,000 Ottoman
liras was obtained from the white cloth sold in the neighbourhood of Safranbolu.
Today the weaving industry has died off.
Hair Weaving: All sorts of articles for domestic use: saddle-bags,
sacks, feed bags, reins, spreads etc. were woven from goats' hair. It was woven
by both men and women in some households and had a market value. In 1923, 120
persons 50 were engaged in its production and 51 marketing and sales worth 9,000
Ottoman liras were realized during that year.
Goat-hair weaving does not exist in the area today.
Felt-making: Felt was produced from sheep's wool or donkeys hair
either in I houses or shops and was totally market-orientated. There were 10
felt producers in 1923.
Forestry Products: As the district forests constitute 5 percent of the total forest areas in
I' must reflect a significant capacity for timber. At the end of the 19th
century there ,
were 61 timber workshops in Safranbolu. Timber, especially boxwood was
exported to Europe via Bartin. In 1923, the two timber factories located inside
Safranbolu treated 30 cubic metres of timber daily.
During those years, 500.000 Ottoman liras worth of timber was sold to
Istanbul, Samsun and Zonguldak, constituting the most significant area of export
of Safranbolu. There were 8 merchants dealing in timber sales.
Forest industry maintains its importance even today.
Other Areas of Production
There were 5 water mills inside Safranbolu, two of which are still in
With the establishment of Turkey's first iron and steel factory in Karabuk,
in 1937, the impact of heavy industry could no longer be avoided in Safranbolu.
It was deeply felt in every respect.
As explained above in the "Transport and Communication" section,
Safranbolu became the commercial centre of the area because it had the necessary
infrastructure for production, marketing and accommodation, apart from being
located on trade routes. Even after the foreign industrial products found their
way into the Ottoman markets, Safranbolu kept to its customary transportation
and marketing functions and began to sell the industrial products of the west in
markets in and around the city. The fact that in 1894 there were 945 shops as
compared to the 1,500 houses in the city is an indication of the intensity of
commerce. In 1923, among the goods brought from Istanbul and sold in the
vicinity of Safranbolu, 200,000 Ottoman liras worth of textiles occupied the
first place. There were 44 merchants dealing in sales of textiles during these
Being the market place of neighbouring villages and towns, Safranbolu
attracted the products of the area and in turn marketed them primarily to
Istanbul and to other cities and towns in the district. The main products sold
to the outside were, in order of priority: timber, leather, mohair, furs of
hunted animals, white cotton cloths, walnuts, animals for slaughter, cow's fat,
slippers and other footwear, rice, dried fruit (apples, plums and mulberries),
linseed oil, saffron, honeywax and salep. Trade with the villages was usually
done on an exchange basis. The villagers products were exchanged for
manufactured goods, thus doubling the profit.
The merchants of Safranbolu also frequented the markets of nearby towns. The
most important market was in Eflani, followed by those of Ovacuma, Toprakcuma
and Eskipazar (Viransehir). After selling their goods, mainly textiles, they
usually stayed overnight and returned to Safranbolu the next day. This
market-place type of trade seems to be the fossilized remains of the commercial
style of the ancient caravan routes.
Once a year the merchants went to Istanbul, generally by land, and brought
back goods. In addition to this, trade was carried out through the mulesmen
(consignee). The commercial life of the Ottoman period was organized internally.
Important commercial issues such as communication among merchants, publicity ,
commissioning of goods, payments and credits were handled by the mulesmen during
Carsi (The market): The carsi covers an extensive space in
Safranbolu. Even today, it is possible to see the typical Turkish market-place
of a century ago. Although slightly antiquated it still gives an idea of the
commercial, economic and social life of its period. Production and commerce
carried out in conformity with the guild system has resulted in setting apart
different streets and areas, allocated for different trades. Hence the cereals
market, the vegetable market, the animal market, the firewood market, the arasta
(shoe-makers' market), saddlers-place, leather workers' place, butchers' place,
merchants' place and ironmongers' place can be listed among the streets and
places of the carsi.
Consequently we can see that Safranbolu made its living through agriculture and
a self-sufficient economy, but the accumulation of wealth was through
production and commerce. Judging by its historical buildings we can say that the
city has developed continually and steadily from the 17th century onwards. The
excessive number of mosques and fountains built in the 18th and especially 19th
centuries for pious purposes, is an indication of the abundance of wealth
accumulated. In the booklet dated 1924 of the Safranbolu Chamber of Commerce and
Industry it is noted that 860,560 Ottoman liras worth of export was made,
compared to the 488,900 Ottoman liras worth of import. The difference of 371,600.
Ottoman liras between the two is a big sum for a city with a population of
only six or seven thousand. Yet another indicator of the level of wealth during
the same year is the importation of 3,500 Ottoman liras worth of children's
While other Anatolian cities which improved their relations with the West
developed rapidly, Safranbolu could not use this advantage due to its
geographical location. However, it could sustain its wealth through the self-
sufficient economic policy in effect. Although the installation of the Iron and
Steel Factory in Karabuk necessitated reorganization in the economy (such as
relocating the commercial activities in Karabuk, and altering their types), it
took almost thirty years before the traditional way of life was actually
influenced. From then onwards Safranbolu became totally dependent on Karabuk.