Çankırı is a city in Central Anatolia, about 140 km north of Ankara. It's industrial and modern, but lying on a trade route across the Anatolian plateau, has several old buildings of interest. You might break a journey to the Black Sea here. In 2020 the city population was 87,589, with another 10,000 or so living in the surrounding province.
It's only 90 min drive from the Turkish capital but feels much further, a conservative provincial backwater, though it does have a university. The Byzantines used to exile people here, to the place then known as Gangra, meaning "goats". At some point mid-4th century, 21 bishops convened here ("The Synod of Gangra") to fulminate against Eustathius of Sebaste and his disciples, who were being ultra-holy in quite the wrong way.
One who left the area in the 19th century in search of a better life was Hacı Ahmet Rıza Effendi, from Kalfat a village west of Çankırı; he moved to Istanbul where he had a son Ali Kemal (1869–1922). Kemal was a journalist, anglophile and liberal and briefly the last interior minister of the Ottoman empire, but lynched by the "Young Turk" radicals. He was the great-grandfather of Boris Johnson, British prime minister 2019–22, whose contributions to Anglo-Turkish friendship included winning a magazine prize for the most scurrilous limerick about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
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Çankırı is 140 km north of Ankara, a 90 min drive across the windswept Anatolian steppes, with some remarkable views of eroded hillsides watching the highway from a distance.
The town is on the railway from Ankara to Zonguldak, which has been closed for years for engineering works. The work in 2022 is nearly complete but there's no news on when trains might resume.
Buses run hourly from Ankara Asti terminal and take two hours, for a fare in 2022 of 110 TL. The main operator on this route is Özlem, which is Turkish for "yearning". One bus a day runs direct from Istanbul via Gebze, Izmit and Adapazarı.
Buses run every couple of hours from Kastamonu to the north, taking two hours.
1 Otobüs Terminali the bus station is 500 m south of town centre. It's small but modern and usually clean. There's a taxi rank.
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The central sites are close enough to walk around. You need your own wheels to reach the salt caves.
- Old town is in the higgledy-piggledy alleys towards the castle, with rows of renovated historic houses.
- 1 Büyük Cami (Grand Mosque), Cumhuriyet Mektep Sk 23. This mosque was built from 1522-1558, it's not known why it took so long. It has a rich interior and was restored in 1992 and again in the 21st century.
- Çivitçioğlu Madrasa, Hilmi Astarlı Zade Sk 16 (east flank of Büyük Cami). A 17th century Islamic seminary, nowadays a cultural centre demonstrating the Ottoman arts of paper marbling and calligraphy.
- Yeni Cami, new mosque, is 100 m north of Büyük Cami.
- Çankırı Museum is on Atatürk Blv 200 m south of Büyük Cami, open Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. .
- 2 Buğday Pazarı Medresesi (Wheat Market Madrassa), Buğday Pazarı Cami Sk 18. In the courtyard of Buğday Pazarı Mosque, this is a two-storey wooden 18th century building. It's now a craft centre for traditional clothing and kitchenware.
- 3 Radio Museum, Büyük Koprü Cd. Ramshackle collection of radio and telecoms equipment.
- 4 Castle, Cinci Sk. 24 hr. The castle is on an outcrop above the city; the Romans fortified it by reflex, but there was probably a bastion much earlier on such a defensive site. A glass balcony juts out for panoramas of town. Free.
- 5 Taş Mescit near the university was built in 1243 as a mosque and hospital. The hospital has disappeared and the mosque became a mausoleum.
- 6 Çankırı tuz mağarası (Salt caves) (18 km southeast). This area has been mined for salt for 5000 years. Some of the old tunnels have been turned into a show-cave museum, where it's cold even in mid-summer.
- Football: Çankırıspor play soccer away down in the amateur local leagues. Their home ground Atatürk Stadyumu is by the disused railway station and has a capacity of 5500.
- The cluster of stores around town centre includes Migros at Atatürk Blv 51, open daily 09:00-22:00.
- There's another little retail area west of the railway tracks.
- A dozen or so little eating places are along Atatürk Bulvarı or south of it towards the river.
Many cafes serve beer. There isn't a stand-alone pub.
Çankırı and its approach roads have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Nov 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
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- The deep green forests of Ilgaz National Park are an hour's drive north.
- Ankara is a sprawling modern city but don't miss its historic centre.
|Routes through Çankırı|
|Kastamonu ← Ilgaz National Park ← Ilgaz ( W / E) ←||N S||→ Kırıkkale ( W / E) → Hacıbektaş → Nevşehir|
|END ←||W E||→ Çorum → Tokat|