When you journey along Turkey’s Black Sea coast, you are tracing the routes of ancient traders. The Silk Road wound its way through this scenic region, linking the West and the East. Merchants stopped along the way to exchange goods such as spices, amber, leather and metal trinkets forged in fire. Some passed through on camel or horseback with their sights set on long treks over vast lands. Others headed to Black Sea shores to embark northbound ships to Crimea, Russia, and beyond. Today, this history-rich area reveals numerous secrets of its past, while boasting extreme natural beauty.
Our small group can explore this intoxicating region on an intimate scale. Our base is the small city of Safranbolu, named after the coveted saffron spice that is grown here still. Its Old Town, also known as Çarşi, is a treasure trove of remarkably preserved, red-roofed Ottoman-period houses. Their authenticity has earned the city its prestigious status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Browsing the timber-framed facades here and strolling its cobbled streets transports you back to an enchanting time. For an up-close look at daily life, we stop at the Kaymakamlar Museum House. The former home of a lieutenant-colonel, it is a showcase of typical Safranbolu living adorned with pretty ceiling decoration.
You’ll get a sample of Safranbolu’s days as a stop on the Silk Road during a visit to its thriving bazaar. Ironsmiths, shoemakers, weavers, carpetmakers, wood carvers, and countless other vendors have set up shop here for centuries. To help both ancient and modern visitors find their way, many streets are named for the merchants that line them. The indoor Cinci Han Caravanserai, too, is steeped in the city’s market history. Today, this imposing structure is a hotel boasting vaulted ceilings and a fine courtyard. But it was originally built as a stopover where traveling merchants showed off their goods and rested from long journeys.
We witness another facet of local life during a visit to a Yörük Village, a living museum of residential structures originally inhabited by the nomadic Yörük people. This fascinating collection of houses—many of them quite grand—stand two or three stories tall. Upper floors were used as living quarters while the lower floors feature the kitchen, storage, stables, and the hayat, an open area where domestic tasks were performed.
Nearby, the region’s natural beauty is on display at the Incekaya Aqueduct. The canyon’s latest attraction is not for faint-hearted—a glass Crystal Terrace fans out over a cliff face some 260 feet above the canyon floor. A considerably older structure—the magnificent Incekaya Aqueduct, also seems to defy gravity as it spans the equally beautiful Tokatli Canyon. Built in the 1790s at the command of the grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire, this towering bridge once supplied water to Safranbolu.
Turkey’s Black Sea region is a feast for the senses, a fascinating corner steeped in Ottoman culture, tradition, and history. We hope you will join us during our Turkish Odyssey adventure so you can experience it for yourself!