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Safranbolu Houses :: Settlement Pattern


Safranbolu is situated within and around valleys created by the water courses cutting across a plateau, sloping gently from the north to the south,  formed out of alternate layers of limestone and marn. 

Coming from the north, the Gumus stream has cut a deep and narrow canyon within the valley through which it flows. The cliffs of the valley are of a calcareous formation. The hill on which the castle is situated sticks out like an island, having avoided the erosion caused by the watercourses. The Kurankoy settlement is situated over the precipice which forms the west boundary of the valley. Coming from the north-east, the Akcasu stream runs through a ravine which widens near the Akcasu settlement, and then passes through the tunnel built beneath the Cinci Ran. At this point the two valleys, those of the Akcasu and Gumus streams, join to form a considerably wide vale. This is where the commercial centre (Carsi) and the tannery are located. The Akcasu stream joins the Gumus stream in the Asagi Tabakhane area (Safranbolu Map, photos 8,9, 11, 13, 14). In the north-west of the winter settlement area (Sehir), about 2,500 m from Cinci Han (caravanserai), the Baglar district is situated on a gentle slope, inclining towards the Sehir. The Baglar area can be defined as a plateau; and continuation of the Inyakasi Hill. Even today, one can come across pine trees in the gardens which can be traced right back to the ancient forests.


Looking at the sequence of the dates of construction of the historical buildings in the Sehir,  it can be assumed that the first Turkish settlements were on the hill where the castle is situated and on its southern slopes. The castle must have been the place where the rulers lived while the southern slopes were inhabited by the people. The south-east of the castle gained importance in the 17th century. It continued to grow further north and south and filling the gap between the existing settlement and Akcasu continued to the east. With the increase in wealth and security the areas with vineyards and orchards were turned into summer residence areas and hence the Baglar district developed.


The tendency to discriminate the summer and winter way of life resulted in two separate settlement areas in Safranbolu (Safranbolu Map). The settlement areas within the valleys, the Sehir, is the part of the city dwelt in, during winter.

The carsi, the administrative centre (the government-house and official buildings), schools, the production centres (the shoe-makers' place the tannery etc.), the mosques, the public baths are all located within this area. Although the Sehir is almost deserted in summer, the men still spend part of their days here. The city centre is in the triangle where the Akcasu and Gumus streams meet. The houses are situated along the valleys formed by these streams, as well as within the city centre. Houses which are quite dense in the centre, occur in less and less frequent intervals as one proceeds along the valleys. The dimensions of the Sehir does not exceed 1,500 m as the crow flies, from one end to the other in all directions. With the extraordinary visions made possible by the topography, these settlements within valleys provide a rich variety which can sometimes be quite surprising . The resulting solutions are fascinating from the view point of man's relationship with nature. The distance between the cliffs allows one to grasp the whole and yet perceive the details. The houses situated on the slopes of the valleys do not conceal one another, you can see each one of them from the facing hill. The steep rocks rising behind form a protective wall against the severe winter winds. Due to the dense settlement pattern in the centre, there may even be houses without gardens. In places where the building plots are narrow and irregular, houses are extended towards the street with projections. The canyon-like valley of the Gumus stream offers a spectacular view with its watercourse widening and narrowing alternately among an abundance of green.

The houses perched just over the precipices are breathtaking. Small bridges join the houses to the road running along one side of the Akcasu stream.

Each slope or hill in the §ehir offers a different view. Gumus and the castle can be seen from Kirankoy; Gumus, Kirankoy, the Carsi, Hidirlik and the tannery can be seen from the castle; and Akcasu, the Carsi, and the castle are seen from Hidirlik; providing a rich variety of views. The impression a stranger gets regarding the size of the city is often misleading. As a group of houses already seen reappear after climbing a few hills and going down some valleys, they can easily be mistaken for new ones whereas in fact it is only the angle from which they are viewed that has changed. Thus the settlement may seem much more wide-spread than it actually is. You may get the same illusion taking the road to Kastamonu from Kirankoy: from Kirankoy you can only see the houses of Gumus on the hill opposite. After Gumus the road winds towards Bartin and for a while you are tete-a-tete with nature. When the road turns towards the Carsi, you can see Hidirlik and the houses on its slope. When you cross the Akcasu stream and start climbing towards the Musalla cemetery, the Akcasu quarter, Carsi and the castle reappear.

Catching a glimpse of the city now and again within a natural surrounding, feeling it very close one moment and quite distant the next are conceptual aims very similar to those aspired to by all the environmental designers and city planners of our day. Surprisingly enough we find these realized in Safranbolu centuries ago.


It is the largest summer settlement area of the city. It is situated in the north-west of the sehir on a gentle slope facing the south. Infrequent houses within large gardens constitute the settlement pattern. The topography here is not as interesting as in the sehir. Yet, the roads winding among the gardens, almost turned into a green tunnel with the overhanging branches of the trees, are not without surprises. As in the sehir, you can once again get the impression of strolling about a much larger settlement, although in reality it is only 1,500 m across.


This is another summer resort area of a secondary nature, located in the undulating valley of the Tokatli stream, east of the Baglar district. The houses here are much smaller.


A rather insignificant summer resort on the road to Bartin, where the houses are built in a row along a single street.



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