The vibrant green of Turkey's lush, humid Black Sea surprises those who might imagine the country to be nothing but barren steppe. The Black Sea highlands are adorned with meadows full of colourful wildflowers and verdant forests, painting the slopes an exuberant green. The humid and foggy weather gives way to brilliant sunshine and oxygen-rich, fresh mountain air as one ascends from the coastal areas up to the mountains. The mountain ranges which run parallel to the coast in the north of Turkey have erected a veritable wall between the Black Sea and the plateaus of Anatolia
The geographical formation of this part of Turkey is quite different from that of western Anatolia, where mountain ridges radiate from the central plateau like the fingers of a hand. Here, a single range virtually hugs the coast, and there is often no more than 50km between the mountain range and the coast. Rivers have conformed to the terrain and flow parallel to the coast, until rifts in the range open an escape to the sea.
Dense pine forests cover the mountains while lush vegetation and bountiful crops grow in the lower elevations and valleys. Along the coastline, kilometres of beautiful uncrowded beaches offer sun, swimming and relaxation.
In the springtime, delicate wildflower blossoms carpet the rolling meadows of the eastern hills. The wooden houses in fishing villages and mountain hamlets alike preserve indigenous and traditional architectural styles. The humid climate and fertile soil encourage the cultivation of a variety of crops including tea, tobacco, corn and hazelnuts.
The magic of such a diverse landscape proves irresistible to any friend of nature, whether as hiker or mountain-climber, canoe enthusiast or even anyone who would like to enjoy the region by mountain bike or jeep safari.
The most beautiful of the Black Sea highlands can be seen in the provinces of Sinop, Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, Artvin, Gümüşhane and Bayburt. Throughout Turkey, the highlands and the lifestyle of its people have an important place in the rich cultural landscape. This region has therefore been identified as the Highlands and Nature Tourism Development Zone, involving the creation of facilities for such outdoor activities as camping, golfing, skiing, caving, paragliding, rafting and horse riding.
For example, fishing huts are being restored in Şile, Akçakoca, Amasra, Cide, Çaylıoğlu and Sinop and converted into sites for tourism. The aim is to make the Black Sea highlands a focal point for the development of eco-tourism with camping sites located within carefully planned conservation areas.
Besides its natural beauty and outdoor activities, the Black Sea region is rich in historic and cultural assets. Human settlement in the region started as early as the 12th century BC. Situated on the transit routes between Europe and Asia, this region has always been a highly coveted land and changed hands frequently between the Pontus Kingdom, the Romans, Turkish tribes and the Mongols, all competing to take control of the area and ruling it in turn for a time. After the conquest of İstanbul in 1453, the region was gradually absorbed by the Ottomans. Reflected in the lifestyle and traditions of today's inhabitants, all of these various cultures have left their mark on the shores of the Black Sea.
Bartın, Parthenios of ancient times, is a pretty city full of timbered houses that holds a strawberry festival every year in the springtime. Homer records that warriors from Bartın helped Troy in the Trojan War. The remains of a 5m wide Roman road dating back to the reign of the Emperor Claudius are still visible. And Amasra, Bartın’s most popular destination, keeps drawing crowds of domestic and international tourists.
As one of the most beautiful counties of Bartın, Amasra was called Sesamos in ancient times when it was founded by the Miletians in the sixth century BC. It stands on a peninsula made by two inlets, with the eastern side having a reputation for good swimming. On a rocky promontory rise the ramparts of a Byzantine citadel which has inside an old church, now the Fatih Mosque, with the necropolis dating from the Roman period.
Remnants from Amasra's entire history are displayed in the Archaeology Museum and you can purchase a lovely hand carved wooden souvenir on Çekiciler Street. Continuing eastward along the coast one arrives at Çakraz, a typical fishing village with excellent beaches, friendly accommodation and fine restaurants. The winding road between Çakraz and İnebolu has steep mountainsides and offers a spectacular panoramic view.
Beyond Çakraz and 44km east of Amasra is Kurucaşile, a town known for its fishing boat construction.
Besides, in the city centre, you can enjoy a boat trip on Bartın River making for a delightful excursion.
Nearby the river, İnkum has been developed into a holiday village with a sandy beach, restaurant and guest-houses.
Situated inland amid beautiful forests, the city of Kastamonu boasts several important monuments: the 12th-century Byzantine castle built by Comnenes, the 13th-century Atabey Mosque and the 14th-century İbni Neccar Mosque. The Archaeology and Ethnography Museum displays artefacts found in the region while the Liva Paşa Mansion Museum also has local ethnographical artefacts. Nearby is Evkaya, a rock tomb dating from the sixth century BC.
In the village of Kasaba, the 14th-century Mahmut Bey Mosque retains some of the finest wood carvings in Turkey. About 41km west of Kastamonu and 9km west of Daday lies Çömlekçiler Village that has traditional timber houses and farms offering county horseback riding tours.
Then 63km south of Kastamonu is Ilgaz National Park, a delightful protected area in the Ilgaz Mountains with a ski centre and good accommodation. East of the park, by the Devrez and Kızılırmak rivers, is Tosya where extensive rice fields cover the landscape.
Ilgarini Cave, in the region of Pınarbaşı (northwest of Kastamonu), is one of the largest caves in Turkey. It is a wonderful place for trekking and exploring off the beaten path.
A distance of 82km from Pınarbaşı is the lovely county of Cide which is famous for its natural beauty. The county has good hotels and a pleasant beach, providing comfort and relaxation. Cide evokes admiration through its long shimmering coast, lush green forests and splendid bays backed by mountainsides that fall perpendicularly into the blue sea.
As a shelter for many civilizations across ages, this county is mentioned as the ancient city of Aigialos in Homer’s epic poem the Iliad, together with the nearby ancient city of Kytoron.
The Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans all left their mark on Cide, which was a popular destination for travellers along the Silk Road and a land for merchants who engaged in the shipping trade with Russia at one time. Gideros Bay, situated 11km from the centre of Cide, is one of nature’s gifts to Kastamonu - a delight for visitors.
its caravanserais which lent their names to the towns or villages that grew around them. It was also here that the earliest and largest examples of Sultans’ inns were built- structures which would exert a defining influence on Seljuk architecture. The Sultanhanı (Sultan’s Inn) of Aksaray, built in 1229, demonstrates how each Seljuk caravanserai was a work of art besides being a structure for trade and safety.
Sinop is one of the most beautiful natural harbours of Turkey's Black Sea coast. The first evidence of civilization here dates back to 4500BC. It was founded as a major colony by Miletian colonists in the seventh century BC and was the birthplace of the third-century BC philosopher, Diogenes the Cynic. The Sinop Citadel and the foundations of the temple dedicated to Serapis, who was supposedly born in Sinop, date
from that period. After the Miletians, rulers such as the Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and as from 1461, the Ottomans dominated the area. As a mirror of the past,
Sinop’s Archaeology Museum exhibits several beautiful golden icons and the 18thcentury Aslan Torunlar Mansion Museum displays ethnographical artefacts. Other important monuments are the 13th-century Alaeddin Mosque
and the Alaiye Madrasah. Besides, excellent fish restaurants along the charming fisherman's wharf serve tasty meals as brightly coloured boats bobbing in the water complement the picturesque setting. Sinop also stands out for its traditional nautical wooden carvings.
Seaside hotels and holiday villages provide accommodation within all price ranges. High in the mountains lie the yaylas (mountain plateaus) of
Güzfındık and Bozarmut. At an elevation of 1350m, these green pastures with their summer residents offer a glimpse into a traditional way of life. Gerze is situated on a peninsula 40km east along the coast and it is surrounded by parks and beaches. After Akkum beach one can see Turkey’s only fjord, the Hamsilos.
Believed to have been inhabited once by the legendary Amazon female warriors, Samsun still serves as a major commercial port as it did for centuries
Thanks to its commercial importance, Samsun became home to various civilisations in very old times; however, in-not-so-distant-past, on 19th May 1919, when Atatürk landed there to organize the defence of Anatolia, Samsun gained another historical dimension. The Atatürk Museum houses many objects and documents from the past war. An equestrian statue honouring the founder of the Turkish Republic stands in a prominent place in the city park. The 14th-century Pazar Mosque and the 19th-century Büyük Mosque reflect two different Turkish architectural styles. The Archaeology Museum displays not only the finds from İkiztepe but also artefacts from Dündartepe and Amisos.
Amisos was excavated in 1995 and a treasure was found in a square five roomed cave carved out of conglomerate rock. Three of the five grave-rooms contained skeletons, while the other two were empty. The pottery, glass, metal and marble artefacts found were dated to the 14th century BC, while the gold jewellery was dated at 100BC. Other excavation sites are Akalan, Tekkeköy and Kaledoruğu, but about 69 other sites still remain unearthed.
As Samsun’s famous county for its tobacco, Bafra is located 30km east of Yakakent. Its 13th-century hamam and 15th-century mosque-madrasah complex are well worth seeing. İkiztepe, 7km northeast of Bafra is an archaeological site that has over 600 graves from the early Bronze Age (2300- 2100BC) and uncovers much of the Black Sea's regional history. The site shows evidence of continual habitation from around 4000BC until the time of the Hittites in 1700BC. The artefacts including jewellery can be seen in Samsun Museum.
The Kızılırmak River delta area has also been inhabited since ancient times, with the Paphlagonia graves dating from 380BC and the castle trailing back to 1000BC. The Bafra Kızılırmak Delta Marsh provides shelter for over 320 species of birds with a total of 100,000 wintering there.
Çarşamba is the location of the beautiful wooden Gökçeli Mosque, built in 1206 without the use of any metal nails. Terme is the ancient Themiskyra founded by Amazon warrior women in 1200BC, and it has a number of natural beaches and lakes.
Ordu is a land with an oxygen-laden atmosphere and a varied landscape encompassing pristine plateaus, clear mountain streams and a cornucopia of corn, hazelnuts and European anchovies. Ordu is a green spot set between the white-capped waves of the Black Sea and the steep slopes of a mountain range that awaits your exploration. In a sense, it is the gateway to the eastern Black Sea region.
Returning from the Babylonian campaign, the survivors of Xenophon's Ten Thousand left Anatolia from Ordu as they retreated to the west. Today, Ordu is a beautiful port situated at the foot of a forested hill. The charming little port town of Ünye is one of the nicest holiday towns on the eastern Black Sea coast and is justly proud of its excellent beaches and camping facilities. Within easy reach of Ünye is the beautiful Çamlık beach.
22km east of Ünye, there are the ruins of the Byzantine Jason Church, now a museum, standing on the promontory of Jason. Legend has it that the Argonauts landed here on their quest for the Golden Fleece.
Along the scenic road towards Ordu, you can find in many fish restaurants a regional specialty, the sea snail, with the most delicious ones in the coastal town “Yalıköy” of Fatsa District.
Among the other places highly recommended to any visitor to Ordu are Boztepe hill, the Ethnography Museum, Taşbaşı Cultural Centre, the Osman Paşa Ablution Fountain and the lively seashore promenade where you can enjoy a cup of well-brewed tea in the pleasant sea breeze. Simply walking the old streets of Ordu that are lined with authentic examples of civic architecture would fill you with admiration and pleasure.
Boztepe hill affords a panoramic view of the city from 450m above sea level, with several cafes and restaurants allowing you to enjoy the panoramic cityscape day and night. There are also numerous recreational facilities on the pinecovered slopes and the intrepid can even have a go at paragliding. The birds-eye view from the hill offers the chance to see such old Ordu neighbourhoods as Aziziye, Selimiye, Zafer-i Milli, Taşbaşı and Saray with their old vernacular architecture.
At the Paşaoğlu Konak (mansion), now the Ethnography Museum, visitors can see that a rich and influential 19thcentury family lived in this area. The mansion has exceptional masonry work, with stones brought from Ünye, timber imported from Romania and glazed tiles shipped from Europe.
The Taşbaşı Cultural Centre, located in the conservation area of the Taşbaşı neighbourhood, was built by Orthodox Christian locals as a church in 1853. It has a rectangular plan set along the east-west axis with three naves and three apses, and it was built with dressed stone masonry throughout. The building was opened to the public as a cultural centre after renovation, and today it serves as a venue for symposiums, conferences, exhibitions, shows and theatrical performances. The ablution fountain, known as the Osman Paşa Şadırvanı, has strikingly tall columns bearing its cupola and was rebuilt in 1997 as a strict replica of the original erected in 1842. The 19th-century church and the pretty beach of Güzelyalı are also worth visiting.
The Çambaşı Plateau offering beautiful mountain views lies 58km further south at an altitude of 1850m. The Keyfalan Plateau at 2000m height is another popular summer destination for local residents.
Ordu has the distinction of producing most of Turkey's annual hazelnut crop which is the defining element of social life there. With the harvest comes the time for the common fun of weddings and other ceremonies and festivities. Every July the town hosts the Golden Hazelnut Festival, where you must absolutely taste the delicious chocolate nut candy. At the onset of August the hazelnut orchards become full of life and the young and the old, men and women sing ballads reflecting their lives while gathering the hazelnut harvest.
Set in a narrow gorge in the Yeşilırmak River, Amasya dates from 6500BC. During the Ottoman period, the city became an important cultural centre where many scientists and sultans’ sons were raised. Accordingly, it was adorned with many buildings by the Ottoman sultans. It is still possible though for visitors to observe the Amasya heritage of earlier civilizations there. The ruins of the castle rise from the craggy rock and contain an Ottoman palace and a secret underground passageway, while hewn into the rock face above the city are impressive rock tombs that are illuminated at night creating a spectacular sight.
The beauty of the natural surroundings and the splendid architectural legacy combine to endow the city with the accolade of being one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey. Further sights of interest for visitors in Amasya are the 13th-century Seljuk Burmalı Minare Mosque, the Torumtay Tomb, the Gökmedrese Mosque, the 14thcentury İlhanid Hospital with lovely reliefs around its portal, the 15thcentury Beyazıt II Mosque complex and the unusual octagonal Kapı Ağa Madrasah.
Traditional Turkish wooden mansions, or konaks, on the north bank of the Yeşilırmak River in the Hatuniye quarter (Yalıboyu) have been restored to Steeped in history 8500 years ago, Amasya surprises visitors with stories of love their former splendour, with some of these having been turned into guesthouses. The restored 19th-century Hazeranlar Konağı, one of the loveliest, now houses an art gallery on the first floor and the Ethnography Museum on the second. The Archaeology Museum has an interesting collection of regional artefacts including mummies of the
İlhanid Mongol rulers of Amasya. Cafes, restaurants, tea gardens and parks line the riverside and provide tranquil spots where visitors can enjoy the city's romantic atmosphere. From the top of Çakallar Hill you can drink in the beautiful view of the city.
There are many excellent places for relaxation near Amasya. Set amid magnificent mountain scenery, Borabay Mountain Lake is one such popular place for day trips; it is 63km northeast of Amasya, at an elevation of 1050m. Yedi Kuğular Kuş Cenneti (Seven Swans Bird Heaven) is a refuge for migratory birds, 32km from Amasya, while Terziköy Thermal Spring, with hotel and motel facilities, is 36km further
The small county of Merzifon, 49km northwest of Amasya, has several Ottoman monuments, including the 15th-century Çelebi Sultan Mehmet Madrasah (theological college) and the 17th-century Kara Mustafa Paşa Mosque. There are also sights worth seeing in Gümüşhacıköy, 22km from Merzifon, including a 19th-century bazaar, the 15th-century Haliliye Madrasah, and the Yakup Paşa, Darphane and Maden mosques.
Last, but by no means least, the entire province of Amasya is filled with orchards which produce some of the world's most delicious apples.
Giresun, the pearl of the Black Sea, is a lovely coastal city where the colours of blue and green embrace each other. You can see every shade of green and find the opportunity of becoming one with the nature in the valleys of Giresun. You can experience unforgettable moments while enjoying the sea washing the coastline of huge lengths. What is more, Giresun Island, the only island of Black Sea to which the history fans feel attracted due to its magnificent ruins, stands very near the shore.
Those who want to take a walk in lush greens in the fresh air breezing from the mountains are free to visit many valleys like Kümbet, Bektaş, Yavuzkemal and Sisdağı. During your visit, you can do camping, horse-riding and cycling. When you make your visit in spring or summer months, you can come by colourful festivals. Karagöl Mountains are ideal for trekkers where they can lose the track of time.
The peninsula on the northern part of Giresun attracts visitors with its nature and cultural riches. The castle crowning the peninsula is thought to have been built upon the order of Pharnakes I in the second century B.C. and is one of the most-visited monuments of the city. You can adore the magnificent landscape of Giresun as standing atop the peninsula.
Giresun is home to a very rich cuisine culture. Its pides (flat bread filled with minced meat), anchovy pastries as well as black cabbage dishes whet the appetite of all domestic and international tourists. If you happen to visit Giresun in July, you can relish the cherries as the homeland of cherries is Giresun. The Roman General Lucullus is thought to have brought the first cherry tree to Europe from Giresun. Then, the cherry found itself a great geography to grow popular. Giresun derives its name from the ancient city of Kerasus, the City of Cherries. The craftsmen keep the traditional Giresun copper works alive and produce such handicrafts as samovars, trays, vases and sugar bowls. All these bewitchingly beautiful products that you may give to your beloved ones as a gift will remind you of your visit to Giresun.
Trabzon, whose history stretches back into very early times, is a hub of cultural and natural riches in the eastern Black Sea Region. Located on the historic Silk Road, the city has been a melting-pot of religions, languages and cultures for centuries. It played an important role in history due to its harbour and vital position
on the legendary Silk Road. Such was its fame that Marco Polo visited the city in the 14th century. Trabzon has also been an inspiration for such other world-renowned travellers as Xenophon, Evliya Çelebi, Fallmerayer and Frunze, who visited the city and immortalized it in travel books and manuscripts.
Trabzon is a hub of cultural and natural riches in the eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey
Today, the city continues to be an important centre of commerce and culture, replete with museums, monasteries, mosques, tombs, caravanserais, bath-houses, a covered bazaar, city walls, and magnificent examples of civic architecture, markets and a fantastic landscape.
The restored 13th-century Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia, now the Ayasofya Mosque, is the jewel of Trabzon’s Christian monuments. Another gem is the Sumela Monastery overlooking the valley of Altındere, 54km or so south of Trabzon. It is located in Altındere National Park, set amidst the rich flora and fascinating geomorphologic formations of the Altındere Valley. The monastery is perched on the face of a cliff 270m above a deep gorge and it seems from the valley floor to be floating between earth and sky. Surrounded by the ruins of the monks’ dwellings, the monastery’s main chapel is covered with brilliant frescoes both on the inside and outside. It is an exceptional site not only for the singularity of its construction but also for its magnificence. As to the construction of the Sumela Monastery, the legend says one day the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to two Athenian monks and asked them to build a monastery in an isolated valley.
To the far east of the Sumela Monastery, the Çamburnu Coast, where migrating birds rest amidst the golden pine trees, is a lovely area for those who would like to have a short break for photographing the wavy sea.
One of the symbols of Trabzon is the Uzungöl Nature Park located 95km from the city. The park has a rich flora and stunning wildlife, and is an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are accommodation facilities, picnic areas and trekking routes for visitors. Besides natural wonders, Trabzon dazzles the visitors also with a cuisine of considerable charm that offers in the city restaurants many local dishes of great flavour found nowhere else in the world.
Located on the eastern coastline of the Black Sea, Rize is built on a mountainside covered with tea shrubs that look like puffy emerald pillows. It is like an otherworldly natural beauty where you can climb up to the forests from the fields of flavourful tea shrubs and then lie in the lush grass of mesmerizing plateaus near the mountaintops. It is a city whose glacier lakes, waterfalls and hot springs will refresh the body and the mind.
A splendid panorama of the whole city can be seen from Ziraat Park. As enjoying this beautiful scene with a well-brewed tea, you would most probably want to visit the magnificent Genoese Castle and the 16th-century İslampaşa Kurşunlu Mosque. Displaying the Turkish leader's personal belongings as well as ethnographical artefacts from the region, Mataracı Mehmet Efendi Mansion, now the Atatürk Museum, will absolutely draw your attention. There are also local architectural masterpieces depicting a matchless art of wood and cut stonework.
Turning inland after Ardeşen and off the road going east from Rize, visitors come to the beautiful little county of Çamlıhemşin. Nearby is the Fırtına Vadisi (Storm Valley) that is ideal for canoeing, the beautiful Zil Castle (Kale-i Zir) and an old stone bridge. After walking around Ayder's rolling meadows, you can soothe your mood in the calm hot springs there.
For those who like mountain climbing, this is the best starting point for scaling the Kaçkar Mountains, this emerald range being one of the best and the most challenging for climbers in Turkey. The whole Kaçkar Range constitutes the beautiful Kaçkar Mountains National Park. In the mountains south of Rize lies Anzer, a favourite place for everyone to hike and step through the botanic feast of flowers, offering the worldfamous and nutritious Anzer honey.
İkizdere Canyon, between the Anzer and İkizdere Plateaus, is a great spot for hang-gliding, providing a bird’s-eye view of the area at the same time. Last but not least, don’t leave the city without discovering the coastline by boat, and enjoying the subtropical climate, lush green settings, and the traditional chalets of the counties of Çayeli, Pazar, Ardeşen, Of and Fındıklı.
A winding drive midway up a mountainside takes you to Artvin, one of the important cities of the Black Sea region. 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 see the Kafkasör Festival, where the spectacle of fighting bulls is a highlight of the celebration. The adventurous might like to try out white-water rafting on the wild, romantic Çoruh River.
During the Middle Ages the Artvin area came under the sovereignty of Georgia, making it the best place for touring the remains of the Georgian past. Its wonderfully scenic roads lead to the ruined churches and settlements that stand as a legacy of this period. The best-preserved of these are in Barhal
and İşhan in the majestic Kaçkar Mountains. Barhal also offers some of the best county horse riding. Several churches in Bağbaşı and Çamlıyamaç are just off the road to Erzurum, after the Tortum Waterfalls and the pristine Lake Tortum. Other Georgian churches and settlements are near Yusufeli – Dörtkilise, Köprügören and Tekkale. Yusufeli itself provides wonderful opportunities for nature-lovers like hiking at a height of 4000m.
East of Artvin is the former Georgian capital Ardanuç with its famous castle which overlooks the longest canyon in the region. Seventy-one kilometres east of Artvin is Şavşat, an alpine village surrounded by meadows of wildflowers and butterflies, rushing streams and quaint chalets. The local women’s organization has established a training centre for weaving there in an attempt to keep the indigenous carpet and kilim (rug) traditions alive
Hatila Valley National Park, about 170 kilometre-square, is 10km from Artvin at the confluence of the Çoruh River and the Hatila Stream. Canyons with sheer cliffs and vertical drops can be seen throughout the park.
In this national park, both Mediterranean and Black Sea floras flourish together with a wild fauna of bears, deer, wolves, foxes and eagles. Special hives set on top of wooden stilts are home to the park bees that produce the famous regional honey.
The Karagöl-Sahara National Park, 17km from Şavşat on the way to Ardahan, includes the beautiful Alpine Lake Karagöl and the widely known Sahara Plateau. One can travel to the lake (25km northeast of Şavşat) via Velikoy, another authentic village. The lake is surrounded by a variety of pine trees and picnic facilities. Animals of wildlife like bears are plentiful there. The Sahara Plateau abounds with fresh mineral springs that are believed to have curative powers; and at Kocabey Kışlağı village, you can see traditional wooden houses where you can even meet friendly residents. Another noteworthy plateau and popular summer residence in the region is Bilbilan, whose people are exceptionally welcoming and helpful, too. Hopa, an attractive county nestled at the foot of a forested mountain, is the last port before the Turkish-Georgian border that divides the village of Sarp into two.
Stosunki dyplomatyczne pomiędzy Osmanami (Imperium Osmańskim) i Królestwem Polskim zostały nawiązane w 1414 roku, ponieważ oba państwa były bezpośrednimi sąsiadami od późnego średniowiecza do końca 18. wieku.
600-lecie nawiązania stosunków dyplomatycznych było obchodzone w 2014 roku.
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