Ainsworth’s Trail

Safranbolu 001

William Francis Ainsworth (1807–1896) was an English surgeon, traveler, geographer and geologist, known also as a writer and editor. He was sent out by the Royal Geographical Society and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. He went to Mesopotamia, through Asia Minor, the passes of the Taurus Mountains, and northern Syria, reaching Mosul in the spring of 1840. During the summer he explored the Kurdistan mountains and visited LakeUrimiyeh in Persia, returning through Greater Armenia; and reached Constantinople late in 1840. This expedition had financial troubles, and Ainsworth had to find his way home at his own expense. In 1842 he published an account of the Mesopotamia expedition entitled ‘Travels and Researches in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Chaldsea, and Armenia,’ London, 2 volumes.[1] The book can be reached thru

He entered to the City of Safranbolu on October 21, 1837 and stayed 3 days and made visits to Karapınar and Bulak villages and gave us very important information regarding to the social life in Safranbolu as well as the condition of the city in the 18th Century like a French medic working in a military hospital in Safranbolu. Unfortunately, he could not refrain from the similar mistake about the past of Safranbolu like almost all historians did and fit “Flaviapolis: city of flowers” most probably by being inspired of extensive plantation of saffron.[2] It is also very surprising that he had seen the limb of Saint Stephan which must be fake according to Mango[3] at the Sabbath in Saint Stephanos Church in Kıranköy.

It seems that he was mainly concentrated in geographical and of course hydrological characteristics of the region but did not decline to visit all important archeological sites and gave us important information about the settlements of monasteries. From his book we know that Bulak was an important rural settlement of Greek Orthodox subjects but seems that they had very happy life and wealth in 19th due to the modernization of Ottoman Empire in the first half of the century[4].


The Cultural Trail

Recently Keşkek (keshkek) – recipe will follow- has been inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage List.[5] Bulak is well known with its keşkek tradition. In Bulak in almost all mansions there are ovens which are essential for cooking keşkek . Preparation of wheat berry for keşkek is made a day before. We like to guide you to the Village of Bulak to see the skinning of the wheat in a stone havan which are called “dibek” or “dübek” by wooden hammers in a special rhythm. You will witness the preparation of keşkek pots, Yaprak Dolması, Su Böreği and Baklava in an exceptional Bulak mansion. The oven will be fired and your hostesses will make Cevizli Bükme a special walnut pide and will serve with Turkish tea while you are experiencing the Turkish cuisine. After a while the temperature of the oven will be good for cooking keşkek, the keşkek pots will be placed in the oven and the mouth will be sealed with mud. This is whole for the day. You should come back next day to have keşkek after a patient but mouth watering wait. It takes about half a day to cook a delicious creamy dish with a low temperature.


Next day we will go to Bulak Village before noon time and visit Türbe which is a naturally formed eye on the wall of Bulak Canyon and must be holly place all in its past, the Tumulus which should be mausoleum of a local land lord from Paphlagonia period. Afterwards you will join to the keşkek ceremony and the feast which will be started with cracking of the mud seal you had made the day before. Keşkek will be followed by yaprak dolması, su böreği and baklava.


After the feast we will guide you where Ainsworth had seen the ruins of monasteries[6] on the way back to Safranbolu. The tour may be extended to the Bulak Cave on request.


This trip can be arranged for groups of 6 – 12 explorers.

Project partners are GuleviSafranbolu, Batuta Tourism and Mr. Hakkı Eren

Please call Gül Canbulat (+90 530 2430045) for your questions and price.


Material: (for 6 persons)

Wheat berry: 1kg

Lamp meat preferably neck with bones: 1/2kg


Salt and pepper to taste

Butter: 2 table spoon

You can find skinned wheat berry for the dish in many shops in Turkey. Wash and keep in water for 2-3 hours. You will need an ovenproof metal pot. Put drained wheat berry and meat in pot, add water to cover the ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 80-90 degrees C. Put the covered pot into the center and leave cooking for 6 – 8 hours. Check water time to time. Remove the pot from the oven and separate meat on a plate, remove the bones and add the meat back to the pot. In some regions, the wheat berry and meat is beaten to a creamy dish with a wooden spate and some placed isn’t, like Bulak where they like the texture of keşkek and just lightly mix. Share into plates. Fry butter in a pan until brown and taste keşkek with the butter sauce. For a traditional flavour, do not use tomatoes and paprika which entered into the regional cuisines not earlier then 18th Century.


[2] Today scholars generally accept that Safranbolu was former Dadybra and Flaviapolis should be today’s Devrek.

[3] Mango, C. “A Fake Inscription of the Empress Eudocia and Pulcheria’s Relic of Saint Stephen”,

[4] Still there were 2 years ahead to Tanzimat Fermanı (Charter of Regulations) which declared the path to a more democratic society with human rights.

[6] The name of the place is Akyol Erenler. Generally the location names with –ören, -veren, etc. is short for –ruin. –eren should be a derivative. Unfortunately, the debris of the monasteries has been cleaned recently by the Forestry Works after the last forest fire.


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