The city has been governed by mayor Alaaddin Yılmaz (AK Party) since local elections in 2004. It was the site of Ancient Claudiopolis and has also been called Eskihisar ("old fortress") (and as such has several Turkish namesakes).
Bolu is on the old highway from Istanbul to Ankara, 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 (279 BC - 79 BC). Bebryces, Mariandynes, Koukones, Thyns and Paphlagons are native people of the area in antique era. Strabo (XII, 4, 7) mentions a Hellenistic town, Bithynium (Greek: Βιθύνιον), celebrated for its pastures and cheese, which according to Pausanias (VIII, 9) was founded by Arcadians from Mantinea.
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 his younger son and successor Honorius.
The city was known under Byzantine rule as Hadrianopolis (like many other; not to be confused with Hadrianopolis in Honoriade, also Constanti(n)a, now Viranşehir). Turkmens migrating west settled the city in the 11th century and it was referred to as Boli, Turkicized short for the Greek Polis 'city'. It was recaptured by Byzantines in 1097 but was conquered by the Great Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in 1197.
In 1325, the town was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, becoming known under the present Turkish name (sometimes called Bolou or Boli). It was also ruled by Candaroğlu between 1402 and 1423. It became was the chief town of a sanjak in the vilayet (province) of Kastamonu and had a population of 10,000 inhabitants. In the late 19th and early 20th century, (after 1864 with Vilayetler Nizannamesi) Bolu was part of the Kastamonu Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. Bolu was an Ottoman state ( eyalet ) until Vilayetler Nizannamesi 1864 and was covering from Beykoz kazasi of İsmid Sanjak to Boyabat kazasi of Sinop Sanjak.
As secular capital of the Roman province of Honorias, in the civil Diocese of Pontus, the bishopric of Claudiopolis became the metropolitan see, in the sway of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, with five suffragan sees : Heraclea Pontica, Prusias ad Hypium, Tium, Cratia and Hadrianopolis in Honoriade. It appears as such in the Notitiae Episcopatuum of Pseudo-Epiphanius of about 640 and in that of Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise of the early 10th century, ranking sixteenth viz. seventeenth among the Patriarchate's Metropolitans.
The city, known as Hadrianopolis (like many other) under Byzantine rule fell to Turkmens migrating west in the 11th century who called it Boli, was recaptured by Byzantines in 1097 but was recaptured by Sultanate of Rum in 1197. Under Ottoman rule since the 14th century it lost to Heraclea Pontica the Metropolitan dignity. It ceased to exist as a residential bishopric in the 15th century.
Michel Lequien mentions twenty bishops of the see to the 13th century; documentary mentions are available for the following incumbent (Arch)bishops :the first is St. Autonomus, said to be an Italian missionary who suffered martyrdom under Diocletian.
Callicrates (menztioned in 363 in Socrates Scolasticus' church history)
Gerontius (first actual historically documented bishop, in 394 attending the council against Metropolitan Bagadius of Bosra.
Olympius (in 431)
Calogerus (449 - 458)
Carterius (menzionato nel 459)
Hypatus (circa 518 )[dismissed by Janin]
Epictetus (in 536)
Vincentius (in 553) [dismissed by Janin]
Ciprianus I (in 680)
only Janin also includes a bishop Sisinnius, attending the council in Trullo (692), but assgns apparently the same to namesake see Claudiopolis in Isauria
Nicetas I (in 787)
Ignatius, a friend and correspondent of Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople
Ciprianus II (869 - 879)
Nicetas II (X-XI centuries)
John (1028 - 1029).
The archdiocese was nominally restored by the Catholic Church as a Latin Metropolitan titular archbishopric no later then the seventeenth century, first named Claudiopolis (Latin) / Claudiopoli (Curiate Italian), renamed in 1933 as Claudiopolis in Honoriade (Latin) / Claudiopoli di Onoriade (Italiano) / Claudiopolitan(us) in Honoriade (Latin).
It is vacant, having had the following incumbents:Alfredo Bruniera (1954.12.12 – 2000.03.26)
Alain Guynot de Boismenu, Sacred Heart Missionaries (M.S.C.) (1945.01.18 – 1953.11.05)
Georges-Prudent-Marie Bruley des Varannes (1924.02.13 – 1943.05.29)
Giuseppe Fiorenza (1905.12.11 – 1924.01.27)
Giovanni Battista Bertagna (1901.03.26 – 1905.02.11)
Joseph-Adolphe Gandy, M.E.P. (1889.01.15 – 1892.09.29)
Eugène-Jean-Claude-Joseph Desflèches (范若瑟), Paris Foreign Missions Society (M.E.P.) (1883.02.20 – 1887.11.07)
Carlo Gigli (1880.12.13 – 1881.08.24)
Stephanus Antonius Aucher (1796.07.05 – ?)
Tommaso Battiloro (1767.11.20 – 1767.12.14)
Titular Bishop: Joannes Nicastro (1724.09.11 – ?)
Titular Bishop: Walenty Konstantyn Czulski (1721.02.12 – 1724.02.10?)
Titular Bishop: Piotr Tarło (1713.01.30 – 1720.12.16)
Jean-Baptiste Adhémar de Monteil de Grignan (1667.08.03 – 1689.03.09)
Titular Bishop: Tomás de Paredes, Augustinians (O.E.S.A.) (1652.10.14 – 1667.02.17)
The countryside around Bolu offers excellent walking and other outdoor pursuits. There are hotels in the town. Sights near the town include:The 14th-century mosque, Ulu Jamii.
Bolu Museum holding artifacts from Hittite, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods.
The hot springs Kaplıcalar.
Lake Abant and village of Gölköy, near the university campus.
The famous crater lake called Gölcük.
Bolu is home to examples of Ottoman architecture. The Grand Mosque dates to 1899, but was originally built by Bayezid I and is home to decorations that resemble embroideries. The Kadı Mosque is perhaps the best example of classical Ottoman architecture in the city, having been built in 1499 and having its entrance embroidered with ornate kündekari works. Other Ottoman mosques in the city include the İmaret Mosque, built in the 16th century, Saraçhane Mosque, built in 1750, Ilıca Mosque, built in 1510-11, Karaköy Cuma Mosque, built in 1562-63 and Tabaklar Mosque, built in 1897.
The remains of the ancient city of Bithynium have been found in four hills in the city centre, Kargatepe, Hisartepe, Hıdırlıktepe and the Uğurlunaip Hill. In Hıdırlıktepe, a tomb and the remains of a theatre have been uncovered. In Hisartepe, a temple believed to have been built by the Roman emperor Hadrian for his lover Antinous has been excavated. In 1911, it was noted that "in and around [Bolu] are numerous marbles with Greek inscriptions, chiefly sepulchral, and architectural fragments."
Bolu Museum was established in 1975 to display and protect artifacts found in the Bolu area. It functions as both an archaeological and an ethnographic museum and is home to 3286 archaeological and 1677 ethnographic artifacts, as well as 12,095 historical coins. The archaeological artifacts chronicle the history of the area from Neolithic to Byzantine eras.
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.
Bolu is home to 12 local newspapers published in the city centre, two local TV channels (Köroğlu TV and Abant TV), three local radio stations and six local magazines.
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 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 or moved elsewhere.
Bolu has a humid continental climate under the (Köppen climate classification Dfb), bordering an oceanic climate (Cfb), with cold and snowy winters and warm summers with cool nights. Unlike the low-lying, sheltered city center, many parts of the province, like Gerede, have humid continental climate (Dfb), due to very cold winters. January mean temperature is 0.7 °C, and temperatures rarely rise more than 12.3 °C and rarely drop below -15.0 °C during winter months. July mean temperature is 19.9 °C and temperatures rarely drop below 8.3 °C and rarely rise up to 32.2 °C in summer months. Lowest temperature recorded is -34°C (-29.2°F) in February 1929, and the highest was 39.8°C (103.6°F) in August 2006. Record snow thickness was 72 cm (28.3 inches) in February 1950. Bolu is a usually cloudy and foggy city and annual sunshine hours are about to be 1,600.Bolu's climate is similar to Budapest's climate.Antinous (c. 111 - c. 130), favourite of Roman Emperor Hadrian
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
Deniz Sahin (born 1970) - Turkish Windsurf Champion 1989, Balkan Windsurf vice-champion 1992, businessman, entrepreneur, investor
A number of gymnasts have trained in Bolu including:
Murat Canbaş - European gold medal gymnast in 1986 - (b 1975 d 1994)
Suat Çelen (born 1978) -
2nd division Boluspor football club once played in the top flight.