Bolu is one of the most enchanting provinces of Turkey located approximately half-way between Istanbul and Ankara. Bolu is famous for its dense forests, fauna, modern hot spring facilities, and best chefs of the country.
The history of the province dates back to Phrygians around 1200 BC. Then the Persians, Alexander the Great, Romans, Seljuk and Ottomans have left their traces. During the Hellenistic period the area was called as Bithynia, then Romans called it Claudio Polis, and finally named as Bolu by the Turks.
Yildirim Beyazit mosque, also known as Great mosque, is located in the city center and it was built by sultan Yildirim Beyazit I in 1382, then rebuilt in 1899 after a big fire in the city. Another old mosque is Sarachane mosque built in 1750. The Orta hammam (Turkish bath) was built in 19th century. There are also several inns (Hans) from 18th and 19th centuries, which are still standing.
Bolu museum is located in the city center and has two sections; archaeological and ethnographical, with a wide collection of historic periods from Neolitic to Ottoman era, as well as craftworks of textiles, jewels, and arms.
Lake Abant is an amazing natural beauty in the province of Bolu and is one of Turkey's most popular destinations for local and foreign tourists all year around. It is 34 kilometers (21 miles) southwest of the city, situated at an altitude of 1325 meters (4347 feet). It's a tectonic lake fed by underground waters and is about 45 meters deep. The lake is a magnificent one with water lilies spread over, and the deep green forest surrounding it. It's under protection as a natural conservation area. There are good quality accommodation establishments around the lake which deserve spending some time. It freezes almost entirely during the coldest winter months where people can walk on it around the shores.
Golcuk, an artificial lake at 14 kilometers (9 miles) south of the city, surrounded by green forests on the slopes of Aladaglar mountain range, is another great site for picniking or trekking. This lovely lake is situated at an elevation of 950 meters (3117 feet) above sea level and is under protection as a natural conservation area.
Another wonder of Bolu is the Yedigoller (Seven Lakes) National Park which has an appeal beyond words; it's a romantic and tranquil forested area. It's about 42 kilometers (26 miles) north from the center. The name comes from seven small lakes in the area, which are connected to each other by underground and overground waters. During the winter months it's not easy to reach the park unless you have a powerful four wheel drive. During Spring and Autumn the park offers great photo opportunities for professional and mamateur photographers. During Summer months, especially at the weekends, it gets busy with visitors who come here for pickniking, walking and camping.
Kartalkaya on the Koroglu Mountains is a perfect resort for those who like skiing. It is one of the three best winter sports centers in Turkey. You will find quietness and sportive enthusiasm in Kartalkaya, at about 38 kilometers (23 miles) southeast of the city. Situated at an elevation of 2200 meters and having a total of 30 kilometers of ski trails, it's suitable for Alpine skiing and croos-country skiing for four months in the winter. The ski resorts on the mountain have around two thousand bed capacity with easy access by road from Istanbul and Ankara. Aladag meadows are the other attractive tourist sites on these mountains.
Mengen is famous for its excellent cooks and holds an annual "Chefs' Festival", featuring many traditional Turkish specialties. There is even a "chefs' school", the Mengen Vocational High School and School of Cooking, which combines traditional Ottoman food with local tastes using scientific methods.
Mudurnu is approximately 52 kilometers (32 miles) southwest of the city. The town is famous for its poultry but, most important of all, with its traditional wooden houses displaying the old Turkish architecture. Some of the important old buildings in the town are Armutcular mansion, Kazanlar mansion, Keyvanlar mansion, Haci Sakirler mansion, Fuat Beyler mansion, Kanuni mosque, and a Turkish bath built by sultan Beyazid I.
Goynuk town is about 96 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Bolu center, standing on the ancient trade routes of Anatolia. The district is famous for the traditional Turkish houses and the mausoleum (Türbe) of Aksemsettin, the teacher of sultan Mehmet II.
53 kilometers (33 miles) northwest of Bolu is Konuralp (near Düzce) which once was the ancient Pruso ad Hyplum. You can see a well preserved Roman theatre and fine examples of Roman and Byzantine art, sheltered in the museum. Until 1999 Konuralp used to be a site under the administration of Bolu province. But after the earthquake, Düzce was made a province in order to develop this area, thus Konuralp was then included under the administration of this newest city of Turkey.
You may enjoy four seasons at once in Bolu. For those who prefer sea-sun-sand, Akcakoca offers this opportunity at an appealing setting on the Black Sea. You can enjoy the lovely beaches while staying in small guest houses and hotels. You can also visit the Genoese Castle hidden in the hazelnut groves. Same as Konuralp, Akcakoca used to be a town of Bolu province too but when Duzce became a new province, then it remained under the administration of this new city.
An important folk tradition of the province is "Koroglu". Koroglu (son of the blind) is the immaginary name of a local hero from Bolu, symbolizing a folk poet, a rebel and an epic. This poetic epic was written by renowned folk poet Mr. Ali Rusen who lived in the 16th century in Bolu. He wrote 24 different stories about Koroglu, a rebellious young man who fled to the mountains to take revenge from the cruel Bey (ruler) of Bolu who blinded his father. He took from the rich and distributed to the poor, he became a folk hero feared not only by the Bey of Bolu but all Beys.