Capital Of The Steppes

Çankırı is a typical hillside Anatolian city. This very old settlement was first named Kengir before becoming Çankırı in 1925. The city’s distinctive beauty captures the essence of the endless steppes. Despite its proximity to the nation’s capital, Çankırı is far from being as complex and crowded. It is an amazing destination for visitors who want to get lost in nature at the heart of Anatolia. 

A kind of melancholy lingers over the city as many of its children have emigrated to Ankara and Istanbul. Nontheless, you’ll never feel like a stranger in this hidden and humble marvel. You look and smile, and the city smiles back at you.

An Eagle-Eyed Man: Karatekin

Inside the Çankırı Castle is the Mausoleum of Karatekin Bey, a significant historical figure. Karatekin was a commander who conquered the city some years after the Turks first moved to the land of Anatolia. According to the record, he did not only conquer Çankırı, but also Sinop and Kastamonu through an alliance with Danişment Gazi, the Great Seljuks and Suleiman Shah. Karatekin Bey safeguarded the region against various threats, the Crusaders in particular. Now he rests in peace in his eagle-nest-like mausoleum at the top of the city, as if still commanding from on high. The hill’s observation platform provides a bird’s eye view of the city and a picnic area for visitors.

Grand Mosque

In Çankırı you can observe the traces of classical Turkish urban planning, where a mosque is built at the center and other buildings are erected around it. According to certain sources, the Grand Mosque was designed and built in 1522 by one of the assistants of the great Ottoman architect Sinan during the time of Suleiman the Magnificent. 

The recently restored mosque defies time as an immemorial structure. The ancient madrasah overlooking the bazaar from the mosque’s large yard continues its mission as a culture center. The old neighborhood surrounding the mosque exists in the midst of relatively tall new buildings that echo the sounds of tools hammering and shaping copper in the bazaar.In the ancient wheat bazaar, an 18th century madrasah has been converted into a handicrafts center. 

Yâran Meetings

The “Yaran” is a cultural and traditional organization based on the Ahi Order, an association organized on principles of solidarity and alliance among tradespersons and artisans during the Ottoman period. The Yaran very effectively promoted numerous traditional, social and moral practices of the era.  

It is marketed as a touristic element nowadays, but not totally forgotten. The city’s old library maintains the tradition in a Yaran House.

Rock Salt and Salt Caves

The biggest salt reserve cave in Turkey should absolutely be visited only 20 km from the city center. This is a source of pride for Çankırı, as the salt mined here is distributed all over Turkey. Çankırı salt stands out among its equivalents in that it’s natural and local. This important resource is not only served on tables but also spread on icy roads or set out for farm animals to lick.


Çankırı has special traditional dishes. Among Çankırı specialties is a kind of soup called toyga cooked with yogurt and wheat. There is also the famous su borek (literally translated as ”water pastry” because the phyllo dough is boiled), which is less layered and thus thinner compared to other regional pastries. A fried variation is called hand pastry.

You can also taste şebit, a kind of dessert made of thin phyllo dough, dipped in syrup, and eaten like mini sweet rolls. Tahini halva is another delicacy sure to tickle your sweet tooth. You should of course try the popular “Çankırı melon” sold in many cities.

Winter Wonderland

Çankırı’s outlying districts are as beautiful as the city center. Ilgaz Mountain is a wonderful national park and ski resort. Now is the ideal season to enjoy it. The breathtaking sight of pine trees covered with snow is a glorious spectacle. Relaxing cultural tours can be enjoyed in the neighboring district of Kurşunlu, the Kızılırmak River district, Çavundur Thermal Bath, Sakaeli and the Rock-Cut Tombs. You also won’t regret visits to the holy shrines of Çerkeş, Orta, Yapraklı and Eldivan districts.

Necmeddin Atlıhan
Editör – Anadolu Jet magazine Issue 12-2015


Today, the easiest way to escape the chaos of big cities is day trips. Ankarans often use their preferences in favor of either Polatlı or Beypazari. Very few people would consider taking a bus to Cankiri. However, in this city, just 1.5 hours from the capital, there is much to see, from old Seljuk monuments to extremely beautiful Ottoman houses, mosques to a huge salt mine.

The usual rule applies here, too; Remember, the first impression can be misleading. Cankiri’s main street is reminiscent of a long valley full of concrete. When you turn from the center of the station to the city center, i.e. right, the statue of Ataturk will appear at the end of the street where the right-left sycamores are located. This is where the heart of Cankiri lies. The Cankiri Museum is located right across from the monument. The building, which has been used as a Government Building since 1903, now serves as Cankiri Museum. Here you will have the opportunity to explore the history of the city, even before the Hittites. One of the most important artifacts inherited from that period is a large red vase made of clay and it depicts a wedding ceremony on it. The vase is referred to as the ‘Inandik Vase’ because of the Hill Mound it was recovered. The original is at the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and a larger copy stands next to the bus station as a symbol of the city. There are also glass bottles left over from the Roman era in the museum, the bottles exhibited with great lighting are witnesses of the days when Cankiri was first referred to as ‘Gangra’ and then ‘Germanicopolis’.

Once you’re out of the museum, turn your direction towards the River Tatlıçay. You’ll probably be near the Stone School. Stone School is an impressive stone building built in 1886. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk stayed here when he came to the city to promote the ‘Hat Revolution’. Today, it is the Science and Arts Center. There are old Ottoman houses lined up next to the Stone School, and one of these houses served as a post office and a library at the time. Recently, one of them was restored in the form of ‘Yaran House’ model. ‘Yaran House’ is where men gather and converse known as ‘sıra night’ in Sanliurfa. Yaran night, which begins in the Evening Prayer and lasts until the Morning Prayer, is arranged so that men can talk about some issues, not just for fun.

The eye of the city

Cross the river, head north and take a left from Stone Mosque Street. The road will take you to the oldest and most precious work you will see in Çankırı. The Stone Mosque was built in 1235 by Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad. The original was built as a whole of structures funded by the city’s governor, Cemalettin Feruh. As with all Seljuk structures, the most impressive element of exterior decoration is the door, decorated with elegant carvings and accessible by double staircase, but there is an unusual carving depicting snakes standing together in the triangular area beneath the stairs. This figure, which is a symbol of medicine, must have actually come from the hospital, and the snake, considered a symbol of pharmacy, wrapped in a trophy, can be seen in the museum. The building later became a lodge. With today’s restoration, it is planned to serve as the Hadith Research Center within Çankırı Karatekin University. I suggest those with enough energy head north and head towards the banks of Tatlıçay and climb the ruins of Çankırı Castle.

Another option is to return to the city center to find the Grand Mosque. The building is also known as the Sultan Suleyman Mosque. It was built in 1558 by Sadiq Kalfa, who worked with Mimar Sinan, during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. Next to it, there is an extremely beautiful structure, The Madrasah of Çivitçioğlu, the madrasa’s construction dates back to 1754 and today it is home to the traditional arts courses of Çankırı Municipality. When you visit the surroundings, you will probably find a wooden clock tower with concrete surfacebuilt in 1886. The tower was built to commemorate the 25 years of Sultan Abdulhamid II at the throne in 1901. Bugday Pazarı (Wheatmarket) Madrasah is a revering, highly elegant structure lying next to the courtyard in front of The Bugday Pazarı Mosque. Just below the Grand Mosque, when you go down the side of the Imaret Madrasah, you can find an unusual restoration work: laundry built in 1885 and used until 1980. It is known as the largest laundromat under one roof.

Turkey’s largest rock salt reserve

When you come to Çankırı, someone will definitely tell you about the Salt Cave. To reach the cave with your own vehicle, you need to travel a pleasant 20-kilometer road to the east of the city. When you arrive, you will be confronted by one of the largest rifts on earth. This is thought to be the largest rock salt reserve in Turkey and old enough to be used even by Hittites. Around the salt cave, 36 ancient bronze age settlements and necropolis areas were identified. Of these, 26 have been registered. From Hittites to the present day, there are large galleries left from the salts taken with heel system to produce salt. With its high potential in terms of alternative tourism diversity within our country, the salt cave is intended to be brought into World Health Tourism.

It is fascinating enough to be here. The temperature inside is steady at 15 degrees. A part of the cave is separated as a small exhibition hall, where some of the works made by fine arts high school students in the city using salt rocks and an old carriage that once belonged to the owner of the mine and the railway line that used to allow salt to reach the entrance to the mine were also on display. There is also a more interesting object in the gallery that has served as a reminder of the past, a donkey thought to have gone through a natural embalming process, falling into the well about 250 years ago. Recently, a wild rabbit was placed in a box to accompany him.

What to take on your expedition program

Ilgaz Mountain National Park: The Park remains within the provincial borders of both Çankırı and Kastamonu. In addition to hosting rich vegetation and consequently different animal species, its suitability and untouched beauty for winter sports is enough to make the mountain a center of attraction. Activities such as highland trips and various outdoor sports are also organized for those interested. Skiing at 1800 meters high in Yildiztepe is on the “must” list of those who love winter sports.

Cankiri Museum: It is home to about 20,000 objects. Phrygian, Helen, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman artifacts, as well as animal fossils estimated to be about 8 million years old, are also attracting visitors.

Cendere (Salman) Mound and Indağı Rock Tombs: You will see it on the side of the road as you move from the city towards Kastamonu road. The first large mound in this region and the findings show that the history of Çankırı dates back to the Hittites and the old Bronze Age. The caves carved by human hands also hosts rock tombs, burial rooms and church-like temples.

Sakaeli Rock Tombs: Sakaeli is a village in the central district of the city. The rock tombs in the form of chambers, which are located on the hillside in the village, ranging in size from 3 square meters to 100 square meters, are said to belong to the Roman and Byzantine periods.

Beşdut Rock Tombs: When you travel to the Besdut village of the central district, there are two rock tombs carved into rocks on both sides of the river and thought to be from the 6th century BC. It is no surprise to the visitors.

Paragliding: Çankırı and Ilgaz are also preferred places for those who are willing to play in this sport. In 2010, Turkey and the World Paragliding Championship were held in Bayramören district of Çankırı.

Cankiri Cuisine: It has all the characteristics of a typical Central Anatolian cuisine, so nutrition is mainly based on grain here. Do not return without trying garlic meat, yaren güveci, mantı (ravioli), fit fit aşı, çet pastry, keşkek, bıhtı and as desert çekme halva, egg dessert and cranberry sour. Our suggestion is to keep your preferences in favor of diners.

Thermal Tourism: The region is very lucky in terms of healing waters. With the minerals inside Kazancı and Ilısılık mineral waters are said to have a positive effect on the gastrointestinal system, liver and pancreas. Çavundur Thermal Spring Water with its 54 degree water located in Kurşunlu district, and Bozan Bath with 16 degrees water beneficial for skin diseases are just a few of the thermal riches of the city.


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Çankırı Karatekin University

Çankırı Karatekin University