EASTERN BLACK SEA COAST


Sinop is one of the most beautiful natural harbors of the Black Sea. Founded in the seventh century by Miletian colonists, it is the birthplace of the third- century philosopher, Diogenes the Cynic. The town's citadel and the foundations of. a temple dedicated to Serapis date from this period. The Archaeological Museum exhibits several beautiful golden icons. Other important monuments include the 13th-century Alaeddin Mosque and the Alaiye Medrese. Excellent fish restaurants along the charming fisherman's wharf serve tasty meals; brightly colored boats bob in the water and complete the picturesque setting. Sinop is also known for its traditional nautical wood carvings. Seaside hotels and holiday villages provide accommodation in all price ranges. Some 35 km to the southwest, high in the mountains, lie the yaylas (mountain plateaus) of Guzfindik and Bozarmut. At an elevation of 1350 meters, these green pastures with their summer residents offer a glimpse into a traditional way of life.

Gerze, 40 km east along the coast, is situated on a peninsula and is surrounded by parks and beaches.

Continuing on the coastal road, you arrive at Yakakent, a fishing village with clean sandy beaches. Camgolu, a large forest which slopes to the sea, has camping sites, guest facilities and restaurants.

Turning inland, the road takes you to Bafra, a town famous for its tobacco, caviar and thermal springs. Its 13th-century hamam and 15th-century mosque-mausoleum-medrese complex are sights worth visiting. Ikiztepe, 7 km northeast of Bafra, an archaeological site from the early Bronze Age has revealed much of Black Sea regional history. The artifacts, of which the jewelry is especially important, are kept in the Samsun museum.

Samsun, a modern industrial city, serves as a major port for the whole area - a position it has held for centuries. Products from all over the region are exported from this city, which annually hosts the Samsun Trade and Industrial Fair. Samsun found itself at the center of the Turkish War of Independence on May 19, 1919, when Ataturk landed here to organize the defense of Anatolia. The Ataturk Museum houses many objects and documents relating to the war, and an equestrian statue honoring the founder of the Republic stands prominently in the city park. The 14th-century Pazar Mosque and the 19th-century Buyuk Mosque reflect two different Turkish architectural styles and make an interesting comparison.

The Archaeological Museum, in addition to the finds from Ikiztepe, displays artifacts from Amisos, as Samsun was known in ancient times, and Dundartepe.

Unye, a charming little port, is one of the nicest holiday towns of the eastern Black Sea and justly boasts of its excellent beaches and camping facilities. Do not miss the extraordinary 18th-century town haII.

After Fatsa, another holiday town on the road to Ordu, the ruins of the Byzantine Jason Church, now a museum, stand on the Camburnu promontory. Legend relates that the Argonauts landed here on their quest for the Golden Fleece. Fish restaurants serving the finest tea found in the region dot the 50- km scenic road to Ordu. Sea snails, a regional specialty, are particularly delicious at Yalikoy.

Returning from the Babylon campaign, the survivors of Xenophon's Ten Thousand left Anatolia from Ordu in their retreat to Greece. Today it is a beautiful port situated at the foot of a forested hill. In the Pasaoglu Konak (mansion), now the Ethnographical Museum, you glimpse how a rich and influential 19th-century family lived. Hazelnut production centers around Ordu, and every September the town hosts the Golden Hazelnut Festival. Be sure to sample the delicious chocolate nut candy. It is worth spending some time at an 18th century church 2 km from town, and the pretty beach of Guzelyeli is worth visiting. Fifty-eight kilometers to the south, at an altitude of 1250 meters, the yayla (plateau) of Cambasi offers beautiful mountain views. The yayla of Keyfalan, at 2000 meters, is another popular summer destination for local residents.

The ruins of a Byzantine fortress offer a wonderful panorama of Giresun. It was from this city, ancient Cerasos, that the Roman general Lucullus exported the first cherry trees to Europe. An 18th-century church makes a short visit worthwhile. Outside of town, Giresun Adasi (Giresun Island) is said to have once belonged to the Amazons. A ruined temple supports this theory. The Aksu Art and Culture Festival is a yearly event in May. To get off the beaten track, take an excursion to the high mountain yaylas of Bektas or Kumbet.

Between Giresun and Trabzon, squeezed between wooded mountains and the Black Sea waters, Kesap, Tirebolu, Gorele, Vakfikebir and Akcaabat enjoy a growing tourist industry. Gorele offers delicious, submarine-shaped meat and cheese pitas; Vakfikebir offers the best butter, and Akcaabat offers the best kofte ( meat rolls).

Trabzon, the major city of the region, was founded in the 7th century B.C. by Miletian colonists, and it was at the center of the Comnene Empire established after the fall of Byzantine Istanbul. The exiled Byzantine court ruled until 1461, when the Ottomans conquered the area. The restored 13th-century Byzantine church, used for centuries as a mosque and now the Ayasofya Museum, is the jewel of Trabzon's monuments. Splendid frescoes, some of the finest examples of Byzantine painting, cover every surface of the interior church walls. Several other churches were converted to mosques, such as the Fatih Mosque and the Yeni Cuma Mosque. The Ottoman Gulbahar Mosque, a typical provincial-style building, is set in a lovely tea-garden.

Wooden houses fill the old quarter in the ancient fortifications, and it still retains the Spirit of a medieval town. The house in which Ataturk stayed has been made into a museum.

Boztepe Park on the hills above Trabzon, offers a beautiful view of the city and the coastline. On the western slopes of Boztepe Will stands the Irene Tower, built by Empress Irene of Trabzon in 1343. Just east of the city, the village of Surmene has an impressive 19th century mansion known as the Kastel. Near Trabzon, south of Akcaabat, lovely highland meadows - Karadag, Hidirnebi and Erikbeli- are ideal hiking and picnicking grounds; The road inland from Trabzon winds through spectacular mountain landscape before reaching the Zigana Tunnel, the longest in Turkey. Nearby, Hamsikoy, a charming mountain village, has gained a national reputation for its excellent cuisine (including the best rice pudding), and is also conveniently near the Zigana Ski Center. Beautiful meadows and highland pastures (Gurgenagac Yaylasi, Kirazli Yaylasi and Solma Yaylasi) are ideal sites for outdoor activities and picnics. The traditional Kadirga Festival celebrates the annual summer migration to the high mountain pastures.

Altindere National Park provides a magnificent setting for the 14th-century Sumela Monastery, perched on a cliff face 270 meters above a deep gorge. Surrounded by the ruins of the monks' dwellings, the church is covered inside and out with brilliant frescoes. Southeast of Trabzon, Uzungol, a lovely alpine lake surrounded by mountains and meadows, is an excellent camping, trekking and fishing area; its restaurants make it the best place for eating river-trout.

Gumushane, on the ancient trade route between Trabzon and Iran, was once of considerable importance. Many elegant buildings from that period still remain. Set amid fruit groves and wild roses, the town makes a natural stopping point between Trabzon and Erzurum. Take the opportunity to try the local rose-hip syrup and marmalade.

A winding drive mid-way up a mountainside takes you to Artvin, the capital of its province. At the foot of the escarpment, a ruined 16th-century castle crowns a rocky outcrop. Artvin is a charming city with beautiful old Turkish houses, typical of the region. The area's mild climate makes summer visits delightfully refreshing and every June, crowds of tourists, as well as brightly clad locals, throng to the Kafkasor festival, where the spectacle of bulls fighting each other highlights the celebration. The adventurous might like to attempt wild-water rafting on the wild, romantic Coruh river. In the Artvin area, the nature-reserves around the Karagol Lakes, 27 km northeast of Borcka and 17 km north of Savsat respectively, have different kinds of pine trees, flora and fauna, including black and brown bears.

During the Middle Ages this area came under Georgian sovereignty. The Artvin area is the best place for touring remains of the Georgian past; its wonderfully scenic roads lead to the ruined churches and settlements that stand as the legacy of this period. The best preserved of these are at Barhal and Ishan, in the awesome Kackar Mountains. Barhal offers some of the best country horseback-riding. Several other churches, in Bagbasi and Camliyamac, are just off the road to Erzurum, which passes by the Tortum Waterfalls and the pristine Tortum Lake. Near Yusufeli are other Georgian churches and settlements: Dortkilise, Koprugoren, and Tekkale. East of Artvin, Ardanuc, formerly the Georgian capital, has a famous castle, which overlooks the longest canyon in the region.

East from Artvin is Savsat, an alpine village surrounded by meadows of wild flowers and butterflies, rushing streams and quaint chalets. The local women's' organization has established a weaving-instruction center, in an attempt to keep the indigenous carpet and kilim traditions alive. Bilbilan is another important yayla and popular summer residence in the region. You will find the people of this region exceptionally welcoming and helpful.

Bayburt, the newly designated provincial capital, lies on the Silk Road. Marco Polo and the inveterate Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi both passed through this town. The remains of a Byzantine castle, important mosques, Turkish baths and fascinating carved tomb stones are among Bayburt's significant monuments.

Rize, 75 km east of Trabzon, is built on a mountain slope and covered with tea bushes which look like puffy green pillows. Be sure to see this typical Black Sea city's 16th-century Islam Pasa Mosque and the remains of a Genoese castle. From Ziraat Park you can take in a splendid panorama of the whole area. A lightweight summer cloth of good quality and printed with colorful patterns comes from the Rize area. During the Summer Tea Festival you can purchase the best blend of Black Sea tea. Turning inland after Ardesen, on the road leading east from Rize, you come to the beautiful little town of Camlihemsin straddling a rushing stream. Nearby is the Firtina Vadisi (Valley of Storms) with the beautiful Zir Castle, and stone bridges from Byzantine times. After walking around Ayder's rolling meadows, you can relax in one of the many hot-springs. For those who like mountain climbing, this is the best starting-point for scaling the Kackar Mountains. This emerald range is one of the best and the most challenging for climbers, in Turkey. South of Rize on the Kackar Mountains, Anzer village offers the world-famous and healthful Anzer honery, and it is a nice area for trekking and for its botany.

East and west of Rize, Cayeli, Pazar, Ardesen, Of and Findikli all enjoy a sub-tropical climate, lush green settings and traditional chalets. The Camburnu coast is covered with golden pine trees; many species of migrating birds stop-over here, and it is a lovely area for resting and for taking pictures.

Hopa; an attractive town at the foot of a forested mountain, is the last port before the Turkish-Georgian border. The international boundary actually divides the village of Sarp. The road to Artvin traverses the Cankurtaran mountain-pass, where the verdant landscape changes to barren rocks.

A winding drive mid-way up a mountainside takes you to Artvin, the capital of its province. At the foot of the escarpment, a ruined 16th-century castle crowns: a rocky outcrop. Artvin is a charming city with beautiful old Turkish houses, typical of the region. The area's mild climate makes summer visits delightfully refreshing and every June, crowds of tourists, as well as brightlyclad locals, throng to the Kafkasor festival, where the spectacle of bulls fighting each other highlights the celebration. The adventurous might like to attempt wild-water rafting on the wild, romantic Coruh river. In the Artvin area, the nature-reserves around the KaragoI Lakes, 27 km northeast of Borcka and 17 km north of Savsat respectively, have different kinds of pine trees, flora and fauna, including black and brown bears.

During the Middle Ages this area came under Georgian sovereignty. The Artvin area is the best place for touring remains of the Georgian past; its wonderfully scenic roads lead to the ruined churches and settlements that stand as the legacy of this period. The best preserved of these are at Barhal and Ishan, in the awesome Kackar Mountains. Barhal offers some of the best country horseback-riding, Several other churches, in Bagbasi and Camliyamac, are just off the road to Erzurum, which passes by the Tortum Waterfalls and the pristine Tortum Lake. Near Yusufeli are other Georgian churches and settlements: Dortkilise, Koprugoren and Tekkale. East of Artvin, Ardanuc, formerly the Georgian capital, has a famous Castle, which overlooks the longest canyon in the region.

East from Artvin is Savgat, an alpine village surrounded by meadows of wild flowers and butterflies, rushing streams and quaint chalets. The local women's organization has established a weaving-instruction center, in an attempt to keep the indigenous carpet and kilim traditions alive. Bilbilan is another important yayla and popular summer residence in the region. You will find the people of this region exceptionally welcoming and helpful.



button