Ibn-i Batuta’s Safranbolu / Past and Present of Safranbolu under the Influence of Tourism*

Ibrahim Canbulat, B. Arch, M. Arch

The legendry Arabic traveler Ibn-i Batuta stayed one night in Taraklı (previous name of Safranbolu) in 14th Century on his way to Kastamonu. It was after dawn when he was approaching to Taraklı on a caravan route, which he took, was passing parallel to canyons. He had a wonderful night as a guest of the local governor. His satisfaction and how he was hosted is written in his book in details.


In the time span, by the changes of socio-economic structure and transportation network inTurkey, the caravan route was abandoned as well as the old city ofSafranbolulost her economic power. The land use character has been totally changed while a new business district and new residential areas were developing on the north of the old city. Almost for half a century, the old city was used as a dormitory of the lron and Steel Industries, which was established in 1930’s.


Starting with 1970’s by the initiations of academic circles in Turkey, the dwellers discovered that Safranbolu is a unique city and organizational conservation has been put under decree by the local municipality while Safranbolu crowned by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Cities. Tourism flourished and Safranbolu became one of the important destinations of cultural tourism.


Presently (2005), Safranbolu attracts around 250 000 tourists per year and this figure increases steadily. The old city is totally used for the accommodation of tourists and old city center has been re-functioned for the services as well as souvenir shopping. Of course, these changes brought heavy traffic problem with all dimensions. On the other hand, the present road structure created an unbalanced concentration in the north of the city center while a substantial part of the city is not used effectively.


We suggest that the revitalization of old caravan route which was taken by Ibn-i Batuta will bring effectiveness to the land use, and will separate tourists’ traffic and modern city’s. On the other hand, the tourist will perceive and understand how was the socio-economic structure of the city, which created picturesque Safranbolu, better. Meanwhile, we will have a great legend to tell them on his path after 6 hundred years how Ibn-i Batuta perceived Taraklı and how had a nice stay.


In the presentation, the past and present route connections and land use characteristics of Saftanbolu will be explain on maps. The advantages of the proposed alteration and design will be explained. In this extend the past and present characteristics of market place and city center will be intensively verified. The paper will discuss above in the intersection of Architecture, City Planning and Cultural Tourism Management with all of their interrelations.

* OWHC Euroasia International Tourism Seminar, 10 – 12 November 2005, Reports and Resolution, “The Development of Cultural Tourism in the Euroasia Cities”, nd., page 105.



Bu sunumun ardından dönemin Belediye Başkanı, Sayın Nihat Cebeci ve Belediye Meclisi Üyesi Sayın Mehmet Adalar projeye ilgi gösterdi. Hatta duyumlarıma göre Cebeci, bir güzergah bile saptadı. Yerel seçimler sonrasında, projenin şimdiki belediye başkanına aktarılmadığını sanıyorum. Konuyu bu kez, Kaymakamımız Sayın Gökhan Azcan’ın bilgisine sundum. Bir süre sonra, projeyi incelediğini, ancak önemli mali kaynak gerektirdiğini belirtti. Başkaca bir gelişme de olmadı.



  1. I lived with my wife and then 2 young children, working at Zonguldak Koleji for 3 years, 1964-7, working at Zonguldak Koleji as teachers. We love the area. I first saw Safranbolu when I took a school party from Zonguldak Koleji to visit the Steelworks at Karabuk. We have been at least four times since. It is a wonderful place with just one fault, the only good hotels are too expensive. If anyone reads this and goes there the get the Tourist office to help you decide what you want to see and then get them to organise a local taxi to take you out. If you ask the driver to take you to off the beaten track sites you can find some very interesting places that you will wonder who the hell would ever build that and why. I am now a Byzantine Historian and I get several emails a year from people who have read my work because it contains such unusual bits.
    Try to learn the main basics of Turkish before you go off the Tourist trail.
    Ian Booth


    1. Dear Mr. Booth ç,
      Thank you for your contribution.
      If you will come to Safranbolu, again please pay a visit to us at GuleviSafranbolu.
      We may have chance to exchange views about Byzantine Safranbolu.
      Best wishes
      Ibrahim Canbulat


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s