An administrative center for Romans, Byzantines, Selçuks, and Ottomans, Kastamonu (pop. 57,000) is still an outpost of activity in the sparse green mountains. As it is the region’s transportation hub, travelers headed to Ankara or the nearby coast will most likely pass through here.
Kastamonu has many wooden Ottoman houses and old Islamic monuments, and its flowing river and surrounding lush countryside make for a relaxing setting. The town itself is relatively unexciting, but is worth a visit for its impressive Islamic architecture.
Uphill are many well-preserved, traditional Ottoman houses and the center is dominated by the famous Nasrullah Mosque, built in 1506.
Many come on pilgrimages to the tomb of Seyh Sabaniveli, a leader of the Halveti order. The nearby village of Kasbah has what is considered one of Turkey’s best wooden mosques.
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Metro (214 27 27) and Kastamonu Özlem (214 12 12) provide bus semce to: Ankara (4hr.; 9 per day 5am-midnight; $9.50, students $8); Bursa (9hr.; 6:30pm; $17, students $15.50); Konya (8hr., 10pm, $16); İstanbul (8hr.; 7 per day 10am-11pm; $16, students $14.50); İzmir (14hr.; 6:30pm; $27.50, students $24). Soner Turizm (212 13 34) runs minibuses to Abana (1hr., 10 per day 10:30am- 7:30pm, $3). Doğuş (214 17 98) runs buses to Cide (2hr.; 8am, 3, 4:30pm; $1.50). Demirkaya (214 49 46) runs to İnebolu (1hr., 15 per day 10:30am-7:30pm, $2.50) and Sinop (3hr; 9am, 5:30pm; $6.50).
ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION
The main road, the north-south Cumhuriyet Cad., runs parallel to the river that bisects the town. It also passes through Cumhuriyet Meydanı, the town’s central square. Belediye Cad., which runs west from the river, is home to a number of cheaper hotels and restaurants.
The Tourism Office and Müdürlüğü (Directorate), 15 Nasrullah Meydanı, adjacent to the Nasrullah Camii, is not accustomed to foreign tourists. (212 10 62. Open M-F 8am-noon and 1:30-5:30pm.) Internet is available at Alem Internet Cafe, Topçuoğlu Mah., İzbeli Sok. No. 3, on a side street off Cumhuriyet Cad. (212 84 02. $1 per hr. Open 9am-1am.) A speedy connection is also available at Efenet Internet Cafe, 67-68 Nasrullah İş Merkezi. Walk south along the river and take the second right after Belediye Cad.; it’s on the bottom floor of the shop-filled building on the left. ($1 per hr.) Other services include: banks in Cumhuriyet Meydanı, includ¬ing a Türkiye İş Bankası with an ATM (open 9am-12:30pm and l:30-5:30pm); the 500- year-old Araba Pazarı Hamamı, 80 Belediye Cad., at the end of Belediye Cad. (214 57 09; hamam $2.50; kese $2; massage $1.75; open for women daily 8am-5pm, for men 5:30am-11pm); the hospital (214 10 53); and the PTT in Cumhuriyet Meydanı (open daily 8:30am-5:30pm). Postal code: 37200.
The Otel Selvi , 10 Banka Sok., has 54 comfortable rooms, 40 with bath and most with TV. Turn onto Belediye Cad. from Cumhuriyet Cad. and then take the first left. The owner speaks excellent English, (a 214 17 63; fax 212 11 64. Singles $6.50, with bath $10; doubles $11, with bath $17; triples $16, with bath $25.50.) The rest of the hotels are on Cumhuriyet Cad. and can be noisy. The Otel İdrisoğlu , 25 Cumhuriyet Cad., has 28 older rooms with private bath and TV. (214 17 57; fax 214 79 66. Singles $12, students $8; doubles $19, students $12; triples $25.50, students $22.50.) The cheapest joint in town is the Otel İlgaz , 4 Belediye Cad., off Cumhuriyet Cad., which has 16 basic rooms, a shared squat toilet, and old shower on each floor, ( 214 11 70. Doubles $8; triples $9.50.)
Kastamonu has a number of good, inexpensive kebap spots scattered around the square. Many serve the local specialty, etli ekmek (minced, spiced meat sandwiched between crispy layers of pide). Fırtına, Cumhuriyet Cad. No. 5 (214 84 40), along the main street, is a brand-new Italian restaurant with excellent food at affordable prices. The Uludağ Pide ve Kebap Salonu 0,19/D Cumhuriyet Cad., serves great İskender kebap for $3 and ayran for $.30. (214 11 96. Open daily 7am-10:30pm.) Across the river, Kardelen Kebap O, 32 Plevne Cad., provides savory mercimek çorba (lentil soup; $.70) and tasty etli ekmek ($1.50). (212 25 29. Open daily 6:30am-11pm.) After dinner, head to the centrally located Şengün Pastanesi , 17/B Cumhuriyet Cad., to sample the local specialty, sepetçioğlu şekerleme (a dry, flaky confection; $2.50 per kg), or the delicious çekme helva, a white, cube-shaped sweet. (214 23 65. Open daily 5am-11pm.)
Kastamonu’s main attractions are its varied examples of Islamic architecture and the view from its ruined castle. In a square near the Otel Selvi is Kastamonu’s largest mosque, the Nasrulla Kadi Camll, built in 1506. The splendid Nasrullah Fountain, in front of the mosque, bears the inscription, “The guest who drinks water from the fountain can’t keep himself from coming here again.” Walk past the Nasrullah Camii and up some stairs to see the historic Aşır Efendi Han, a former kervansaray for itinerant traders. Nowadays, it is used as a modem shopping center. With your back to the Efendi Han, turn left and take the first left. On the left is the Yakup Ağa Külliyesi, a deserted complex that includes a mosque, medrese, and kitchen, all built, in 1547. Bear right at the fork onto Atabey Sok. toward Kastamonu’s oldest mosque, the 13th-century Atabey Camii, 500m uphill and well behind the Aşır Efendi Han. A little farther uphill, bear right onto Kale Sok., a narrow street that leads to the city’s kale (castle), a fairly well-preserved complex with a commanding view of the city and surrounding hills. As you enter the kale, turn immediately right and try to look inside the main tower. There are stairs leading to the stop. Unfortunately, you have to climb a couple of meters of stone to reach the steps. First constructed by the Byzantines, it achieved its ultimate girth under Tamerlane, when he took the city from the Ottomans in 1402.
The ethnographic museum, in the Liva Paşa Konağı on Cumhuriyet Cad., adjacent to the Sağlık Müdürlüğü (Health Directorate), contains a variety of craft-related exhibits in a well-restored three-floor Ottoman house. (214 01 49. Open Tu-Su 8:30am-noon and 1:30-5pm. $1.50, students $.75.) To get there, start from Cumhuriyet Meydanı, 200m along the river and take the second right.