Safranbolu is a town and district of Karabük Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It is about 200 kilometres (120 mi) north of Ankara and about 100 km south of the Black Sea coast, or more precisely about 9 km north of the city of Karabük. Former Turkish names of the town were Zalifre and Taraklıborlu and in Greek Theodoroupolis, Θεοδωρούπολις (i.e. city of Theodorus or female Theodora) and latter Saframpolis, Σαφράμπολις. It was part of Kastamonu Province until 1923 and Zonguldak Province between 1923 and 1995.
According to the 2000 census, the population of the district is 47,257, of which 31,697 live in the town of Safranbolu. The district covers an area of 1,000 km2 (386 sq mi), and the town lies at an elevation of 485 m (1,591 ft).
The Old Town preserves many old buildings, with 1008 registered historical artifacts. These are: 1 private museum, 25 mosques, 5 tombs, 8 historical fountains, 5 Turkish baths, 3 caravanserais, 1 historical clock tower, 1 sundial and hundreds of houses and mansions. Also there are mounds of ancient settlements, rock tombs and historical bridges. The Old Town is situated in a deep ravine in a fairly dry area in the rain shadow of the mountains. The New Town can be found on the plateau about two kilometers west of the Old Town.
The name of the town derives from ‘saffron’ and the Greek word ‘polis’ (city), since Safranbolu was a trading place and a center for growing saffron. Today saffron is still grown at the village of Davutobası which is 22 km east of Safranbolu and probably one of the best quality saffrons in the world.
Safranbolu was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1994 due to its well-preserved Ottoman era houses and architecture.