Safranbolu, Turkey – a UNESCO World Heritage Village
A lot of UNESCO World Heritage sites comprise major sights that are quite well known to everyone, but some of these sites are just great places to be in. One example is Safranbolu, Turkey – a small town or village, inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage in 1994, that is sort of in the middle of nowhere, 200km away from Ankara (the capital).
I have visited a couple of World Heritage small towns like these, and they are such a joy to explore. There’s no big sight to fight the crowd and queues over, no exorbitant price ticket — the whole village is just there for you to soak in. And you know there’s something special about it, because, well, UNESCO says so, so chance of disappointment is low.
Safranbolu was added as World Heritage due to its well preserved Ottoman era houses and architecture. Our hostel was a sight in itself as it felt like something that was taken straight out of a video game – a wooden inn to rest and gain your energy back, complete with giant treasure chests (not for you to randomly break and steal the gold unfortunately).
In case you’re wondering, yes, the name of the town derives from the word saffron, the magical hairy spice. Safranbolu used to be a center for trading and growing saffron. Today you can still see saffron sold in the shops in little jars and containers everywhere around the town.
We spent just a night here, but it’s well worth a little detour from Istanbul to Ankara. It was also the only snowy place that we stumbled upon during the entire trip – on Christmas day itself which was a bit of a miracle. Going to a Muslim country during Christmas to New Year period must seem like an interesting decision, but our Christmas was white after all :)