Bolu Tourist Attractions
Western Black Sea RegionSituation and ImportanceSandwiched between the densely forested mountains of Bolu Dag (1,829m/6,002ft) to the north and the Köroglu Daglari (2,378m/7,804ft) to the south, the provincial capital of Bolu is situated in the Bolu Ovasi, a small basin west of the Bolu Kargi depression.
It is a busy town with timber processing, wool and leather manufacturing industries, and is plentifully supplied with timber from the adjacent mountains and with pastureland for raising livestock. It is also a major source of dairy produce for nearby Ankara and Istanbul, to which cities it is linked by a good fast road. Bolu in fact has been a thriving commercial center ever since ancient times and was a halt on the trade route to central Anatolia. The town has a lively market district and a reputation for producing some of the best cooks in Turkey.HistoryCalled Bythnia in antiquity, Bolu was founded by the Bythnian King Prusias I (235-183 B.C.), originally on a site about 4km/2.5mi east of the present town. It was enlarged under Hadrian. Antinoos, the town's most notable citizen in Roman times, was a favorite of Hadrian's and was deified by the emperor after drowning himself in the Nile -a sacrificial suicide intended to influence the gods in favor of Hadrian who had fallen seriously ill. Duly recovered the emperor honored Antinoos with posthumous deification and his own personal cult. Under Theodosius II (408-450) the town became the capital of the new province of Honorias, and in the Byzantine period was the seat of a metropolitan bishop. Bayazit I (1389-1402) initiated new building during the Ottoman period. In 1668 the town was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake, as a result of which practically nothing from earlier centuries remains.
Among the sights of interest in Bolu which have survived are the Orta Hamam (baths), thought to have been built in the 14th or 15th century; a well preserved Ottoman caravanserai, on a hill near the market district north of the town center; and, in the town center itself, the Ulu Cami (also called Karadaki Camii, ca. 1390) with remains of old inscriptions and antique sculptures.
This small lake (altitude: 1,448m/4,752ft), about 35km/22mi southwest of Bolu, was formed by a landslide blocking the valley. It enjoys an idyllic setting amidst fir and pine forests and is a popular recreation area for the people of Istanbul and Ankara, being within easy reach of both. Most of the hotels are fully booked throughout the season, even on weekdays.The forested countryside around the lake is excellent for hill walking. There are also limited facilities for angling, water- and wintersports.
Hot springs escaping from faults along the edge of the Bolu basin have transformed this little spot 5km/3mi south of Bolu into quite a sizable spa. Treatment for rheumatism and sciatica (hotel).
Göynük, situated about 100km/60mi southwest of Bolu in the western Köroglu Daglari, is well worth a visit. In addition to its many old Pontic townhouses and an Ottoman bath house, it boasts the Aksemsettin Mausoleum (1494), tomb of the first hoca (moslem teacher) to summon the faithful to prayer in the Haya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453.
Only about 20km/12.5mi north of Bolu a good forestry road leads into one of those remote forested Pontic mountain valleys which tourism has so far left unscathed. There are no villages in the 40km/25mi-long Karadere valley with its bubbling mountain streams, only a forestry office. This makes a good starting point for hill walks through the jungle-like mixed forests of the valley and surrounding area. Bolu, for example, is over the ridge to the south and can be reached comfortably in a day.
The Köroglu Daglari, formed by the uplift zone on the southern edge of the great depression marking the main North Anatolian fault, extends for some 400km/248mi between the Sakarya Nehri in the west and Kizilirmak in the east. The central section of this andesitic range lies immediately south of Bolu, a scenically magnificent and sparsely populated plateau, above which rises Köroglu Tepesi (2,378m/7,804ft), the principal summit. Here even in high summer walkers can escape the tourist throng to savor the tranquillity of an unspoiled countryside with a pleasant climate, extensive fir and pine forests, large expanses of summer pasture and picturesque yaylas (Alpine-style summer settlements used by herdsmen). One such village (and police post), Kizgölcük Yaylasi, with ancient farmsteads reminiscent of log cabins, is situated about 30km/20mi south of Bolu on the Seben road.In the past few years two wintersports areas at altitudes between 1,900 and 2,350m/6,235 and 7,712ft have opened in the vicinity of Köroglu Tepesi, at Kartalkaya and Sarialan, about 60km/38mi southeast of Bolu.
Duzce - Prusias ad Hypium Ruins
A few kilometers north of Düzce, on the east side of the Akçakoca road as it climbs out of the Düzce Ovasi, near the village of Konuralp, are the ruins of the Bythnian city of Prusias ad Hypium, founded by Prusias VI. Among the remains are those of a Roman theater, with the houses of Üskübü rising above the rim of the cavea (auditorium). About 100m/110yds from the theater are quite substantial remains of a Roman aqueduct, while below the theater stands part of a gate (the Atkapi or Horse Gate), its massive architrave decorated with a horse in reverse relief. Other ancient fragments are found in the well-house by the mosque and in the little museum - among the exhibits are some very fine sarcophagi with female and animal figures in relief.
The small town of Mudurnu, about 54km/33mi southwest of Bolu, boasts a long tradition of famous wrestlers, wrestling festivals and related competitions. Also noteworthy are one or two Greek houses in the Pontic style surviving in parts of the Old Town, together with an Old Ottoman bath house and a very beautiful Early Ottoman mosque. In the 16th and 17th centuries Mudurnu was the Turkish Sheffield, famous for its knife-makers; hand-crafted metalwork is still a feature of the lively commercial district. A Sarot village about 40km/25mi northwest of the town has a popular therapeutic spa and there is also a thermal bath in Babas, 5km/3mi south of the town.
This park, not far from Bolu, contains seven lakes, although three of these dry up in the summer. The lakes were formed by landslides and are surrounded by forests.