The province of Bolu is one of the most captivating areas of Turkey, located in the northwestern area of Turkey. Bolu stands between the capital Ankara and Istanbul, and covers a vast area that totals over 7,000 km². The surrounds of Bolu offer vast forest and mountains; with the area being known for the lush dense forests, fauna and hot springs. Beautiful surroundings and low land prices have meant a rise in the number unique designer homes in Bolu. You can read more about building your dream Bolu home here.
History of Bolu
There is no definitive date that confirms when Bolu was first founded however there are some archaeological findings that suggest that Bolu dates back at least 100,000 years and there are also suggestions to show that the region was inhabited at this point.
This area is now part of the Bolu Province and was located in the eastern area of Bithynia and to the southwest of Paphlagonia. It was around 375 BC that Bithynia gained its independence from Persia, after King Bas had defeated the attempt by Alexander’s to take over Bithynia. The region of Bithynia, with some areas of Paphlagonia stayed in their own kingdom until 88 BC when it was briefly ruled by Mithridates VI and was made part of the Kingdom of Pontus. With the help of the Romans Nicomedes IV, the last Bithynian king regained control of the throne, however upon his death he bequeathed the kingdom to Rome.
This bequest led to the fall of Pontus and the Third Mithridatic War, where the area became part of the Roman Empire as a separate province which joined Paphlagonia with Bithynia. It was under the following Byzantine Empire that the area of Bolu was divided, with the divide running from the west of Bithynia at the Sakarya River, and the western area of Bithynia. Even today the Sakarya River is still classed as the southern and western boundary of the province.
The Bolu area was briefly lost under the Byzantine Empire to the Seljuk Turks following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071; however it was swiftly recovered during the Komnenian restoration. The Turks gradually took back control of the Bolu area at the end of the Komnenos dynasty.
In was around 1240 that the Seljuk Turks took control of the eastern part of the Bolu area, more specifically the area of Paphlagonia, from the Byzantine Empire and amalgamated it into the Sultanate of Rum, and the Sinop and Chobanids were given the territory as acknowledgment of their assistance in taking it with the Chobanids being reasonably independent of the Sultan. Between 1290 and 1460 the eastern area fell under the Isfendiyarids before finally being incorporated with the rest of the Ottoman Empire in 1461.
It was in 1864 following an administrative reorganisation that Bolu finally became an independent administrative division of the Ottoman Empire although it was still geographically part of the Kastamonu Vilayet.
Today Bolu is no longer classed as a large city but it is a busy market town, and it boasts an abundance of attractive forest and mountains together with one long shopping street. The university students and soldiers that are based at Bolu contribute greatly and bear influence on the local economy, which traditionally relied on the forests and crafts made by the inhabitants. Monday is Market day where the majority of people from the surrounding villages travel into the town to do their weekly shopping.
The main road that runs from Istanbul to Ankara originally crossed the Bolu Mountain, with most of travellers stopping at the restaurants that were located on the roadside rather than going into the town, however since the opening of the Mount Bolu Tunnel, access is easier.
Hazelnuts grow abundantly in Bolu and make up one of the local sweet specialties. The area is also well known for the production of eau-de-cologne that encompasses the scent of grass. The feature that is most dear to the local people of this area is the soft spring water that flows freely in the fountains located in the town.
Below you will see an example of a custom designed villa in Bolu.
Climate in Bolu
Bolu enjoys a humid continental style climate that borders on oceanic. The winters are predominately cold and snowy and the summer warm with cool nights. In the sheltered city centre many parts of the province of Bolu are prone to large seasonal temperature differences and precipitation is usually well distributed through the year.
The mean temperature for January is 0.9°C with the temperature rarely reaching above 12°C or dropping below -14.0 °C. In the height of the summer months the mean temperature in July is about 19.7°C and rarely drops below 8.1 °C or rise higher than 31.6 °C.
On average Bolu amasses an annual total of 2,500 sunshine hours.
Things to do in Bolu
One of the most exquisite beauties that the city of Bolu has to offer is the Lake Abant. Lake Abant is situated about 20 miles to the southwest of the province with an altitude of 1500 metres. The lake is truly magnificent and boasts an abundance of water lilies that adorn it and it is surrounded by a lush dark green forest. During the winter the lake freezes and is a popular spot for ice skating. There are a number of high quality establishments in this area which offer accommodation making it a perfect place to visit and stay overnight.
Yedigoller (Seven Lakes) National Park
The Yedigoller (Seven Lakes) National Park is another of the wonders that can be found in Bolu and has an appeal that is breath taking and hard to put into words. It is situated about 25 miles from the north of the centre of Bolu. Goluck is one of the artificial lakes and is just 9 miles south of the city and is perfect for spending a day with a picnic or trekking amongst the enchanting green forests that surround the area.
Kartalkaya is located on the Koroglu Mountains and is the perfect resort for all those who enjoy skiing. Kartalkaya is amongst the top three winter sports areas in the whole of Turkey. The enthusiasm for the sport is combined with a tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere. Kartalkaya is located just over 20 miles from the southeast of the city centre. The Aladag meadows are also situated on these mountains and are another attractive tourist site.
Mengen is the area of Bolu that is most famous for its excellence in food with many excellent chefs inhabiting this area. Mengen is also where the annual “Chefs’ Festival” takes place where many of the Turkish specialties feature.
Mudurnu is located just over 30 miles to the southwest of the city. The town of Mudurnu is famous for its poultry but, more important the traditional wooden houses that perfectly display true old Turkish architecture.
Goynuk town is located just over 60 miles from the centre of Bolu and occupies the ancient trading routes of Anatolia. Goynuk town has been made famous due to the traditional Turkish houses you will find here, and also for the mausoleum of the teacher of Sultan Mehmet 11, Aksemsettin.
Binef horse ranch
The Binef Horse ranch provides visitors with not only the opportunity to ride a horse but also to have a spectacular meal from Cerkes kitchen. The ranch is one of the great places to visit, just make sure that you have at least half a day to really take advantage of all that is on offer.
Bolu in general
The city of Bolu gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy all of the four seasons at once. Those seeking sun, sand and sea will find everything they could possibly want in the Akcakoca area which offers the most exquisite setting on the fringes of the Black Sea. There are a number of stunning beaches and plenty of quality accommodation choices available.
Konuralp is located just over 30 miles northwest of the city of Bolu and was once known as the ancient Pruso ad Hyplum. Here you can visit a Roman theatre that has been particularly well preserved and there are a number of fine items of Byzantine and Roman art tucked away in the museum. Konuralp was under the administration of the Bolu province until 1999. After the area suffered from an earthquake the area was ordered to undergo major development and Konuralp became included in the administration of this new city of Turkey.
Bolu property offers the perfect climate for those wanting to escape from the Mediterranean summer, yet still enjoy the sun in a cooler climate. Bolu is also far more conservative than many of the other tourist destinations in Turkey and more suited to those looking to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings rather than party into the night.