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Below:Old Turkish Houses in Safranbolu.
THE SAFRANBOLU HOUSES
Safranbolu is located in the Northeast part of the Black Sea region. The town is connected to the city of Karabuk. The location was home to many civilizations since the Paleolithic Age. Three huge tumuluses dating from the Paleolithic period were discovered near the Eflani region. Homeros calls this region 'Paflagonya.' The region became densely populated during the Roman and Byzanthine periods. 24 tumuluses, a number of tombs caved into rocks, and reliefs are found from the later Roman and Byzanthine periods. In the south of Safranbolu, around Sipahiler village, remnants were discovered mainly descending from the Roman period. Safranbolu itself has no remnants dating from the antique or Byzanthine period. Although suspected that Safranbolu has been an old settlement, there is a dispute on what its former name was. Some archeologists, like Leonard, argue that Safranbolu was formerly known as Germia, whereas others, like Ainsworth, insist that it was formerly Flaviopolis (Roman for City of Saffran). The Turkish historian Osman Turan argues that the city was named Dadybra before it fell into the hands of the Danisments, an early Turk Principality (Beylik), in the 12th Century. The city was conquered by the Byzanthines, the Cobanogullari, the Seljuqs, the Ilhanli, and the Ottomans respectivley. The Ottomans allowed Safranbolu to remain as an independant state city until 1461. It is known that the name of Safranbolu during these years was Zalifra. The name later has been replaced with a Turkish one and the city lost its independence, but the essence of the city was preserved even in the Turkish name. Safranbolu, or Zafiran-Borlu, literally means the city of saffran. The city today is an almost homogenized mixture of Greeks and Turks.
The important highlights of the city are the Ulucami, formerly a Byzenthine church called Hagios Stephanos, the Suleyman Pasha Mosque and the Suleyman Pasha School of Theology (not much of it left though), and the Hammam all dating back to the Candarogullari principality. Historical sites from the later period are the Koprulu Mehmet Pasha Mosque, the Dagdelen Mosque, the Kazdagli Mosque, and the Cinci Hoca Kervansarai.
The Ottoman buildings in Safranbolu were completely constructed in the Ottoman architectural style. The exterior made of bricks and covered with blue limestone found anywhere in the region. The wood used for the houses was mainly fir and pine, sometimes walnut or poplar. The Harem (private) and the Selamlik (public) parts within the houses are accessed through different entrances. Great care was taken not to transform too much the natural material used in these houses. This is why modest and rich houses do not differ much from each other. The emphasis is not on extravagancy but on simplicity and functionality. The materials have only aesthetic value when in its most natural state. This understanding and the houses themselves have their resemblences with the Shakers and the Shaker style houses.
According to the Islamic way of living, the private live of the family should remain private, this is why the gardens are surrounded by high walls and the windows have cages. The harem part is seperated from the selamlik part with walls that had revolving doors. The doors had to revolve since there were no servants in Anatolian houses in the Ottoman times and women in the household had to serve the guests. The problem was how women, who were not allowed to be seen by strangers, could actually serve the guests. The answer was found by restructuring the doors as revolving. The women would prepare the service in their part of the house and place them on the shelves of the revolving door. The women would then turn the door to the Selamlik part without having to appear in person. Some houses have fountains at the centre of the Selamlik hall. The whole room is encircled by big cushions and divans. There is a fireplace within the room, not only for heating purposes but also for the slow preparation of Turkish coffee in brass coffepots. The Selamlik rooms of these type of houses are generally polygonal. Selamlik rooms that have a fountain at its centre are mainly used in the summer to cool down the summer heat. The houses had several wells. Some were used as household water, others were used as washing water in order to prepare for the prayer. The region yields rich crops and food is never scarce this is why some wells with cold springwater served as natural refrigirators for excess food. Food was dangled down the well and left there until it was needed in the household. Even waste waters had separate wells. Waste water from the toilet would never be combined with waste water from the kitchen. Life in these houses was modest. Even the richest families would sleep on floorbeds and sit and eat on the floor.
The best known Ottoman houses in Safranbolu are the Kaymakamlar house, the Haci Salih Pasha mansion, the Haci Memisler House, the Curtlar house, the house of Rauf Bey, and the mansions of the Asmaz family. Most of these houses are family property and still in use, but they can be visited if the members of the family are asked for permission.