Karabük's provincial city of Safranbolu, which is recognized on the UNESCO's World Heritage List as one of the "20 Best Preserved Cities," welcomes tourists to its saffron fields.
Known as the "miracle plant," saffron is used in dye, food, cosmetics and the pharmaceutical industry. Saffron is planted in the first week of September and sold for TL 25,000 ($6,599) per kilogram. Local and foreign tourists who want to see saffron in the fields are known to take tours of the city, learning more about this miracle plant.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), İsmail Yılmaz, a saffron producer, said tourists usually come to Safranbolu during the harvest time.
"There are many people who would like to see the saffron fields. We distribute baskets to tourists and they help farmers harvest the plant under the supervision of experts who initially show tourists how to pick up the plant, where to step and which route they should follow," Yılmaz said.
People who come to Safranbolu to experience UNESCO's world heritage enjoy their time in the fields, as well. Local tourists from the four corners of Anatolia as well as foreign tourists from China and Arab countries show great interest in learning more about the saffron harvest.
Sharing her personal experience in the saffron fields, Aslı Balcı, who came to Safranbolu from Istanbul, said: "We wanted to see the saffron fields and participate in the harvest while we are here. I think saffron is a very interesting plant. I always assumed that saffron flowers were yellow but seeing that the flowers are actually purple, I am shocked, but in a good way. It is quite difficult to harvest the plant as it is very delicate but we have had the time of our lives bonding with nature."
On the other hand, Ayşe Koçak from Ankara said it is a very unique experience to participate in the harvest of a plant that she had formerly only seen in the stalls of herbalists. "I am very pleased with my experience. I will surely talk about the harvest when I return to Ankara and advise my friends to come here during this time of year. This is my first time participating in a harvest in the field. It is a very delicate and detailed job," Koçak said.
Gürol Sence, one of the tour managers who organizes touristic events taking visitors to the saffron fields, said the concept of harvest tours came into being for the first time this year. Sence said they came to the fields with a group of 45 tourists and informed them about saffron, showing them how it is planted, harvested and processed in different industries.