Turkey Black Sea coast travel guide and destinations


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Black Sea Region TOUR GUIDE




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Part 3: Sürmene, Surmene Trabzon


The towns of Yomra, Arsin and Araklı are uninteresting except for good sandy beaches that extend between the first two. Sürmene, on the other hand, distinguishes itself with the mighty Yakupoğlu Castle on the coast and the impressive churches of the valley inland.

The valley of Gürçay (Manahoz) provides good hiking opportunities and a few socio-historical curiosities. The village of Dirlik, about five kilometers inland, used to be the only Greek settlement in the region before 1923. It retains two interesting churches. One of them is abandoned and decaying while the other is kept in tiptop shape as a mosque which has a splendid view over the valley. A delightful moss-covered stone footpath leads to the church/ mosque through cherry orchards and walnut groves alongside meticulously constructed irrigation channels. Both the path and the canals date from the last century and contrast starkly with the usual haphazard style of Black Sea villages.


The muhtar (village headman) relates that the local priest left in 1923 at the age of 19 and returns every year with Greek groups to visit his old stomping grounds. Villagers love it, partly out of instinctive hospitality and partly out of the hope that, sooner or later, the old man will reveal the whereabouts of the hoards of gold and silver that all know are surely buried under the church. Further up the valley past the bustling market town of Köprübaşı one can visit the Greek-speaking (but devoutly Muslim) villages of upper Sürmene. In the large village of Yılmazlar (Mezire) seek out old man "Khomeini". He is an exconvict, ex-world traveler, twice pilgrim to Mecca and veteran of many marriages and will try to gain instant converts to Islam with an enormous twinkle in his eye. With his advice it is possible to organize a spectacular six-hour hiking expedition to
uzungol over the next valley or climb the yaylas of Soganh Mountain (2870 meters), where the regionally famous Sultan Murat Martyr's Festival is celebrated on June 23.
Back in Sürmene, one may have a good fish lunch at the Belediye Restaurant before moving on. The grand residence of Yakupoglu Memiş Aga-known locally as the Kastel¬s located approximately three kilometers along the way to Of. It is somewhat hard to find. The only indication for the motorist is a little teahouse which advertises itself as the "Kastel Restaurant". The castle itself is located amid tea fields just off the road. Like its Haznedaroglu cousin in Bolaman, this is a late-18th century seigneurial residence which belonged to the local dynasty of derebeyis. It is a graceful stone building with an enormous mushroom-like roof. Its grim past is hinted at by rifle slots along the parapets and a small jail located on the first floor. The intricately designed and painted carvedwood ceilings and superb stone fireplaces of the second-floor living quarters, by contrast, indicate the highly refined lifestyle of the Yakupoglus.
Inhabited until 1978 by the descendants of Memiş Aga, the Kastel has now fallen on hard times and seems set for an irreversible decline. This is rather surprising, given the fact that Mr Cevher Ozden, alias Kastelli. Turkey's most outrageous billionnaire, is also a Yakupoglu descendant. This flamboyant high school dropout managed to collect a staggering 40% of the nation's private savings before going bankrupt in 1982. After a stint in jail, he resurfaced as the country's biggest real estate mogul but went bust again in 1989.
In former times the castle was only accessible from the sea. The first Rize-Trabzon highway was built by the Russian occupying army in 1916. To spare the castle, the Russians constructed the road in a loop around it, with a high retaining wall that still stands. The current highway was constructed in the 1950s on a strip of land reclaimed from the sea.
One of the best beaches of the whole Black Sea coast is found at the foot of a steep cliff a few kilometers further east, past Çamburnu Village.


Free Travel Guide of Turkey Pontic coast: East of Trabzon - Trebizond

 Part 1: Tea Plants
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
A Muslim Redoubt
Part 5:
A Lakeside Eden
Part 6:
Rize and Environs
Part 7:
Part 8:
A Little Berlin

Part 9: Bull wrestling in Artvin



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