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