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Bolu (Greek: Βιθύνιον /Vithinion, Latin Bithynium or Claudiopolis) is a town in Turkeymarker, and administrative center of the Bolu Provincemarker. The population is 84,565 (2000 census).

Bolu is on the old highway from Istanbulmarker to Ankaramarker, which climbs over Mount Bolu, while the new motorway passes through Mount Bolu Tunnel below the town.



Bolu was part of one of the Hittite kingdoms around 2000 BC and later 500 BC became one of the leading cities of the Kingdom of Bithynia. Strabo (XII, 4, 7) mentions a Hellenistic town, Bithynium (Claudiopolis), celebrated for its pastures and cheese, which according to Pausanias (VIII, 9) was founded by Arcadians from Mantineamarker.

In the Ancient Roman era, as is shown by its coins, the town was commonly called Claudiopolis after Emperor Claudius. It was the birthplace of Antinous, the posthumously deified favourite of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who was very generous to the city, and his name was later added to that of Claudius on the coins of the city. Emperor Theodosius II (408-50) made it the capital of a new province, formed out of Bithynia and Paphlagonia, and called by him Honorias in honour of the Emperor Honorius.

Catholic bishopric

As Claudiopolis, it remains a titular see of Bithynia. It was the religious metropolis of the province (so in all Notitiae episcopatuum). Lequien (I, 567) mentions twenty titulars of the see to the thirteenth century; the first is St. Autonomus, said to have suffered martyrdom under Diocletian; we may add Ignatius, a friend and correspondent of Photius.

The Turkish era

In 1325, the town was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, becoming known under the present Turkish name (sometimes called Bolou or Boli). By this time, it was the chief town of a sanjak in the vilayet (province) of Kastamonumarker, with 10,000 inhabitants (700 Greeks, 400 Armenians, few Catholics).

Bolu today

Bolu is a busy market town rather than a large city. It has one long shopping street and an attractive forested mountain countryside. Students from the university and soldiers based in Bolu make an important contribution to the local economy, which traditionally depended on forestry and handicrafts. Market day is Monday, when people from the surrounding villages come into to town for their weekly shop.

The main road from Istanbul to Ankara used to cross Bolu mountain, although more people would stop at the roadside restaurants than actually come into the town, and anyway now the Mount Bolu Tunnel is open most people will rush by on the motorway rather than climb up into Bolu, especially in winter when the road has often been closed due to ice and snow. Some of the service stations on the mountain road have already announced their closure.

Local specialities include a sweet made of hazelnuts (which grow in abundance here) and an eau-de-cologne with the scent of grass. One feature of Bolu dear to the local people is the soft spring water (kökez suyu) obtained from fountains in the town.

Places of interest

The countryside around Bolu offers excellent walking and other outdoor pursuits. There are hotels in the town for visitors. Sights near the town include:
  • The 14th century mosque, Ulu Camii
  • Bolu Museum has artifacts from Hittite, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods.
  • The hot springs kaplıcaları
  • The attractive lake (Abant Lake) and village of Gölköy, near the university campus.

Notable people

  • Alexandru Callimachi (1737-1821), Prince of Moldavia
  • The industrialist and philanthropist Izzet Baysal was born in Bolu and has built a great number of schools, hospitals and other public buildings in the town including the campus of Abant Izzet Baysal University in the forest outside the town (founded in 1992).
  • Another name you will see written in many places is Köroğlu as the mountains of Bolu are reputed to be the scene of the Epic of Köroğlu.
  • Utku Varlık (born 1942) - Painter
  • A number of gymnasts have trained in Bolu including:
  • 2nd division Boluspor football club once played in the top flight.
  • Bolu Kehinde - Later moved to [Christs Hospital], [England].


External links

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