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Kastamonu is a city in the Western Karadeniz Region of Turkey. It's 92 km from the Black Sea coast at an altitude of 900 m, and in 2021 had a population of 125,622.


The town may have been founded in the 18th century BC; the Greeks and Romans called it Timonion (Τιμόνιον). It controlled one of the valleys to the Black Sea coast and in the 10th century was fortified by Manuel Erotikos Komnenos (circa 955-1020), so it was dubbed "Kastra Komnenon" hence Kastamonu.

From the 13th to 15th century, Kastamonu was the capital of the Candaroğlu petty kingdom. The Ottomans were already a power in the land, but were almost destroyed by Mongol / Timurid invasion. Thus it was only in 1461 that they'd recovered enough to vanquish the Candaroğlu on their road to establishing an empire on three continents. Kastamonu was thereafter a provincial capital untroubled by warfare. However in the Turkish War of Independence it was a supply hub: western navies embargoed the shipping lanes, but munitions were smuggled into the port of İnebolu then brought up to Kastamonu thence to the frontlines.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

1 Kastamonu Airport (KFS  IATA) is 12 km south of the city and most days has a flight from Istanbul (IST) by Turkish Airlines, taking 75 min. You'll need a taxi to get downtown.

By bus[edit]

Buses from Istanbul run every 2-3 hours and take 8-9 hours via Gebze, Bolu and Safranbolu, usually continuing via Boyabat to Sinop or Samsun on the coast.

From Ankara six buses a day take four hours. Bus lines on these routes are Metro Turizm and Flixbus.

Local buses ply along the valley from Karabük, which is on the railway from Ankara to Zonguldak, and is close to Safranbolu.

2 Otogar the bus station is 7 km north of city centre. Local buses and dolmuşes run downtown and should be included in your ticket price, check when buying.

By road[edit]

From Istanbul is 510 km: take O-4 / E80 (toll) east past Gerede, then D755 north to Karabük, then D030 east via Araç. The last stretch of road is winding, but is mostly a divided highway.

From Ankara is 240 km: go east on D140 to Kalecik, then north on D765 via Çankırı and Ilgaz. The last section is over the Ilgaz Mountains at 1800 m, so in winter consider the weather outlook. Satnav may try to bring you this way from Istanbul.

Get around[edit]

The main road follows both banks of the river bisecting the city, with one-way northbound traffic on the east bank and southbound on the west. Public buses ply this strip.


In the old town
  • Old town straggles along the valley both sides of the Karaçomak River. The southern sections have Ottoman half-timbered houses and stone mansions, plus ancient mosques, caravanserais and bazaars. But it's all a bit scrappy, as most buildings are ticky-tacky modern, and older buildings are often in poor condition, so you don't get the atmosphere of an "old quarter".
  • 1 Ismail Bey Mosque is the focus of a Külliyesi - religious complex - built in the 1440s.
  • 2 Nasrullah Mosque was built in 1506, and restored in later centuries.
  • Nasrullah Bridge crosses the river east side of Nasrullah Mosque and was built about the same time. It's now a footbridge with two arches remaining; the outer three were clipped off in 1946 to avoid obstructing modern streets along the banks, giving it a lop-sided appearance.
  • Aşir Efendi Hanı (aka Urgan Inn) is a caravanserai just west of Nasrullah Mosque, built in 1748. It's now occupied by small shops but is run-down.
  • 3 Cumhuriyet Meydanı - Republic Square - was historically the market place, but is now a plaza lined by public buildings, such as the late Ottoman-style Governor's Office and City Museum. The monument commemorates the effort to supply the front line during the Turkish War of Independence - the foremost figure is Şerife Bacı, who perished from the cold doing so.
  • City Museum, Cumhuriyet Meydanı (within Governor's Office), +90 366 212 7282. Su-F 08:30-17:30, Sa 08:30-16:30. Local history exhibition. Free.
  • 4 Clock Tower (Saat Kulesi) on Kuleli Sk is a sturdy sandstone tower of 1885.
  • 5 Liva Paşa Mansion, Sakariya Cd 5, +90 366 214 0149. Daily 08:30-17:30. Mir Liva Sadık Pasha was a military commander and built this 22-room mansion in the 1880s to house his harem. Since 1997 it's been an ethnographic museum, depicting town life and handicrafts in the 19th / 20th centuries, and items from Mahmut Bey Mosque (below). Some visitors are disappointed that they don't get an immersive display of the arts of the harem. Free.
  • 6 Archaeology Museum, Cumhuriyet Cd, +90 366 214 1070. Small museum displaying archaeological finds from the area. Free.
Kastamonu Castle
  • 7 Kastamonu Castle Kastamonu Castle on Wikipedia or citadel perches on an outcrop, reached by a 20 min hike up the old town alleys. Built by the Byzantines in the 10th century, this is the "castra" that gives Kastamonu its name. In later centuries it was captured and repaired by the Seljuks, the Candars and finally the Ottomans. The outer walls have disappeared and the inner walls were damaged by earthquakes but partly restored in modern times. You're free to explore it 24 hours.
  • 8 Hat Museum (Şapka Müzesi), +90 366 212 2499. M-F 08:30-17:30, Sa Su 10:00-17:30. Large collection of hats, but no signage or explanation even in Turkish. Free.

Further out[edit]

  • 9 Mahmut Bey Mosque is a remarkable wooden mosque built in 1366, in the village of Kasaba 17 km northwest of Kastamonu. No nails were used (hence its nickname Çivisiz Cami, "the nailless mosque"), so its elaborately carved pieces were cleverly slotted into position and the surfaces dyed. Kasaba is now a tiny place but was once a substantial town, a secondary seat of the Candaroğlu dynasty until they were ousted by the Ottomans, and right up to the 20th century its population exceeded 20,000. The mosque is one of five in Anatolia inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List; it's generally accessible in daylight hours. To get here take the road towards Daday as far as Göçen, then follow the lane north for 3 km. A dolmuş would get you to Göçen.


  • Hamams: Dede Sultan Hamamı at Atatürk Cd 41 was established in 1524 and is still in business. Others in old town are Çifte Hamam, Arabapazarı Hamam and Yeni (New) Hamam.
  • Lunapark is a rusty crumbling amusement park at the north end of town. It's supposed to be open daily till midnight, but you'll probably find it closed.
  • Dress to impress: it was in Kastamonu on 27 August 1925 that Atatürk made a famous speech banning the wearing of the fez and religious garb; he wore a panama for the occasion. He argued that such dress was not only backward, but it emphasised religious and cultural differences in what should be a unified secular republic. Civil servants and similar officials were thereupon required to wear modern hats, and when Atatürk got back to Ankara he passed a law. There were many protests, and a couple of dozen protesters were hanged, in a modern secular sort of way.


Within Mahmut Bey Mosque
  • Zirve Park is the main shopping centre (AVM), north end of town off Denktaş Cd. It has a big Carrefour open daily 09:00-22:00.
  • Lots of small stores on the streets lining the creek.


  • Etli ekmek is a local style of pizza, large and topped by cheese and spicy bacon. It's often served with a soup and a salad.
  • Halva (çekme helvası) is for dessert, in cafes or sold loose.
  • Eating places are found along the streets either side of the creek.


  • Cafes may serve alcohol.


Nasrullah Bridge

Town gets booked out whenever the nearby military garrisons have public parades, as families from all over the country flock to see their conscripted sons looking smart and purposeful for the first time in their lives.

  • 1 Gold Otel, Silahtar Sk 7, +90 501 030 6137. Basic but acceptable for what you pay. B&B double 1000 TL.
  • 2 Idrisoğlu Otel, Cumhuriyet Cd 18, +90 366 214 1757. Simple but clean and central.
  • Ruganci Otel next door at Cumhuriyet Cd 14 is less clean.
  • Ramada Resort is on Tufan Sk.
  • 3 Kursunluhan Hotel, Mehmet Feyzi Efendi Sk, +90 366 214 2737. Atmospheric hotel in a former caravanserai. But restful it's not, live music blasts out to the early hours. B&B double 3000 TL.
  • Otel Mütevelli, Cumhuriyet Cd 46 (opposite Republic Square), +90 366 212 2020. Comfy business hotel in town centre. B&B double 3000 TL.
  • 4 Kadıoğlu Konak, Kırkçeşme Cd 1, +90 366 212 1214. Charming old mansion east of town centre. B&B double 2500 TL.
  • 5 Park Dedeman, Stadyum Cd 40, +90 850 283 2929. Smart clean chain hotel on main highway. B&B double 3000 TL.
  • 6 Armoni Park Otel, Güven Sk 18 (5 km south of town), +90 366 214 4545. Convenient for motorists on main highway, okay for a short stay. B&B double 3000 TL.


Kastamonu and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of April 2024, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next[edit]

Fog rolls in over the Küre Mountains
  • Küre Mountains National Park to the northwest is an area of natural beauty, with lush forests, striking gorges, and biodiversity.
  • İnebolu 92 km north through the mountains is the closest town on the Black Sea. It's mostly modern.
  • Safranbolu to the west is a World Heritage site for its well-preserved old town with whitewashed Ottoman houses.
  • Ilgaz National Park to the south is a winter sports destination, at high altitude having an almost Nordic landscape.
  • Boyabat to the east has an impressive citadel overlooking the river valley.

Routes through Kastamonu
Ends at (W / E)  N  S  Ilgaz National ParkNevşehir
Ends at (N / S)Safranbolu  W  E  BoyabatAmasya

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