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Kastamonu town

By car or bus from Istanbul (6 hours), or Ankara (4 hours)

Kastamonu is more than a collection of fine konaks. Ancient Paphlagonian tombs are carved into the cliffs, some dating back as far as the fourth century BC. In narrow lanes dozens of modest 19th-century houses climb rocky outcrops to gain a view from their pretty bay windows. Crowning one clifftop is the double-domed mosque of Kemalettin İsmail Bey, who also built a great caravanserai in the heart of the bazaars – the Kurşunlu Han, now a sturdy hotel. A Candarlı, whose dynasty had ruled Kastamonu since 1291, he was sent into exile after Mehmet the Conqueror annexed the region in 1461.

Concrete runs riot down by the river and over many hills. One or more of the arches of the invincible Nasrullah Bridge built in 1501 has been lopped off to make way for a boulevard. But even here there are delights to be found: from the intricately carved gate of the 13th-century hospital to a dozen elegantly proportioned Ottoman Revival palazzos from the early 1900s.

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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