In the previous post, I presented general views of Safranbolu. This one will focus on one well-restored mansion and its owners. And after that is a short presentation of Cinci Han, an old caravanserai.
Let us go in …
Zamanlık for Safranbolu
While walking on one of the narrow streets, Ergun noticed an interesting sign on a door that said: “Zamanlık.” Inspired by “samanlık” meaning haystack, or hay barn, it roughly translates as, with the intended pun, “time-stack” or “time-barn.” (Both are entirely my terms, and the owners may not prefer the translation.)
There we met Gül and İbrahim Canbulat, working on their project to build and keep the collective memory of the town, thus the name, time-barn, Zamanlık. İbrahim, an architect, and Gül with extensive managerial experience brought the right resources for these projects. After all, Safranbolu itself is a time-stack, almost frozen in the 17th-century. Preserving time, and building a collective memory of the place is fitting.
After a brief conversation, they kindly invited us for coffee at their newly restored house. Later that afternoon, we went to the Macunağası İzzet Efendi Mansion. (The approximate pronunciation of the name sounds like “mah-June-ah-I-sigh.”)
The couple lovingly restored and decorated the mansion to its early glory. They allowed me to take photographs in and around their house. I believe it was the first time a stranger was allowed to do so. Thanks, İbrahim and Gül for that experience. I think the mansion has been operating under the name Gülevi as one of the best places to stay in Safranbolu.
At that time, they had just finished the restoration and were still putting on the finishing touches. İbrahim, who holds a master’s degree in architecture, was overseeing the restoration. As we moved into one of the rooms with ornate wood ceilings, he explained that the restored pieces were of a different color wood to highlight the restoration. The fresco paintings were brought to the surface with their scars as well, after hiding under whitewash for many years, maybe decades.
One of the surprises of the mansion was their kitchen. In that deeply old setting, the kitchen was very modern. But, it was in line with their lifestyle and interest in cooking. If you visit their Web sites and look around, you will see the extensive local and regional recipes they had collected. I understand that Gülevi now offers gourmet food for refined palates. That afternoon, İbrahim made delicious espresso coffee for us and explained their ongoing efforts to build a collective memory of the town in Zamanlık.
I produced a video slideshow and a photo book and shared them with the Canbulats. In those days, self-published photo books were not as common as they are today. İbrahim liked the book and ordered about a dozen additional copies.
Recently, I recreated the slideshow keeping it close to the original version. The new rendering should provide a smoother video experience and a larger viewport. I hope that it conveys the enchanting charm of the town and the beauty of the Macunağası İzzet Efendi Mansion. Enjoy!
A gallery of photographs of the Macunağası İzzet Efendi Mansion is below.
Safranbolu was a major stop on the trade routes between Europe and Asia. Hailing from the days of the Silk Road is Cinci Han, a caravanserai that hosted camel caravans with many stable rooms. Its stone walls convey stability and security even today. It was built in 1645 and served as a major stop until the trade routes faded. For some time, it was used as a storage depot for various things.
It was converted into a hotel probably in the 1950s with a nice restaurant and some gift shops. In the summertime, it serves food in its courtyard where we enjoyed a nice dinner one evening. The entrance to Cinci Han was through an old, rusty, but quite sturdy iron gate. The massive gate also had a smaller door on it for a convenient entrance.
The name Cinci (pronounce as gin-gee with the second syllable as short as the first) is also attached to several other major structures in town including an old Turkish bath. They are dominant elements in town panoramas as you can see in the photographs below. The sunrise photographs are the result of my rare photographic ventures out that early. I wanted to see how well the color of the rising sun matched the namesake of the town, saffron. In the opening photograph of the first article, you will find plenty of echoes of saffron color.
In the last photograph below, there are two houses on either side of the minaret on the left. If I am not mistaken, Paşa Konağı is to the left of the tip of that minaret. And the Cinci Turkish Bath is in the right lower third of the same frame with its double domes.
The next post will present various sections of the town, visit a museum, and tour another mansion.