An Introduction to Safranbolu

Panoramic View of Safranbolu (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

So much has been written about Safranbolu – and indeed about so much of Turkey, Turkish cultures and lifeways – why try to re-create the wheel?As this is a blog intended to prepare my family for travel in Turkey in the summer of 2014 – I thought I would prepare a compendium of resources on this lovely city…which I have yet to visit myself! I hope this post will be useful to other readers who may stumble across this blog while considering a trip to this gorgeous place.

A road in the Safranbolu area (Image by Dynamick at

Safranbolu is perhaps best known as a United Nations heritage site due to the plethora of homes built in classic Ottoman architectural style – and their description of the city, in the hotlink above, is thorough, readable and reliable. Here, however, are a few more links for this compendium of all-things Safranbolu:

Safranbolu is one of the Black Sea region’s greatest hits for travelers – you can see a common Black Sea itinerary with commentary from travel writer Natalie Sayin here.  Given that we will be driving through part of the Black Sea region a few words are in order.  This region is known for distinct cultural differences from, say, the Aegean coast or Turkey’s south-eastern region both in terms of environment (lush forests, mountains!), culinary culture, Lazca dialect – and of course – the famed butt of many a Turkish “Laz” joke.  Given these specific hallmarks of the Black Sea Region – here are a few resources on each topic:

Black Sea Environment:  One of the most common stereotypes that I face when people ask about Turkey involves the notion that the country is a desert, akin to, say the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia.  Just to give you a sense of what the Black Sea region looks like – take a look at photos from two travelers’ hike near Safranbolu or the incredible collection of photos from Turkish Travel Centre’s post on the Black Sea region from a wide-ranging trip – if you look at one link, look at this one!.

Black Sea Culinary Culture:  Perhaps the most commonly-thought of dishes from the Black Sea region involve mıhlama (cheese fondue), hamsi (anchovies, many ways), kara lahana sarması (last word is pronounced: sahr-mah-suh” sometimes called stuffed “black cabbage/kale/collard greens) laz böreği (“lahz boor-eh-ee” or phyllo filled with custard, Barbara, I know this won’t be your favorite🙂 ) or just plain old delicious mısır ekmeği (“muh-suhr ek-may-ee” or corn bread, sometimes baked with hamsi).

  • My Turkish Table: This foodie blog has a great, detailed post about culinary specialties from the Black Sea region here.
  • Anissa, a chef and foodie tour guide addresses one of my favorite uses of yufka dough here in a post about su böreği (“soo buh-rey-ee”).  We were thrilled to meet Anissa in Gaziantep a few years ago, during one of her culinary tours.
  • My Traveling Joys: Formerly My Turkish Joys, this professional chef, named Joy, highlights saffron lokum (“loh-koom” or Turkish delight) as a favorite here.
  • Ottoman Cuisine has a short overview and recipe for corn bread here.

Laz Jokes: Laz people – an ethnic minority from the Black Sea region are, in my experience, stereotyped as amusingly dolt-ish.  Laz jokes are often super goofy and self-effacing. Sometimes told as stories, Laz jokes can include a gullible character with the name Temel – a common name in the region (or perhaps not anymore, after all the jokes…).

  • Libertinelog: Written by an English-speaking scholar in Turkey for two years, this blog provides a typical Laz-style G-rated joke here.  Additionally, while not specific, this blog keeps a list of fabulous Turkish pick-up lines here…the first of which is “I have a big bedroom.” LOL.
  • Out in Turkey: This now-defunct blog gives you a few examples of Laz jokes here including one that is X-rated.  Laz jokes – and Turkish jokes in general were shockingly sexual to me when I first began to spend time in Turkey.  I must have had some sort of Puritan American notion of Islam and Muslim cultures – albeit secular ones…

I look forward to adding to what the Internet has to offer with respect to Safranbolu in the near future – but for now – enjoy these links!

2 thoughts on “An Introduction to Safranbolu

  1. . . you have put together an interesting and amusing collection of links here – being generally a Laz(y) dolt I appreciate the time you have returned to me that I am able to put to indolent use🙂

    • Glad to be of service, sir! Your photos were lovely – I was thrilled to See them. I was surprised that there are relatively few Turkey travel blog posts on this town… At least that I can find.

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