situated on a narrow peninsula at Turkey’s
northernmost point, Sinop is like a Black Sea
island with its good-natured people and streets
where time passes slowly.
Development of the Pontic Greek Dialect
Will Pontic Greek continue to be spoken? Bortone
(2009) believes Pontic Greek spoken in the
Pontos in Asia Minor today will probably
disappear. The challenge is to keep the Pontic
Greek dialect alive. The more recent work of
researchers like Emeritus Professor Peter
Mackridge, Assistant Professor Pietro Bortone,
Dr Theofanis Malkidis, Ömer Asan, Dr Anthi
Revithiadou and Dr Vassilios Spyropoulos have
increased our knowledge of the dialect.
Time For to Discover the Black Sea Highlands
Discover the Black Sea
highlands in September when time is suddenly
rent by a blanket of fog or the cry of a
vulture, and make the acquaintance of nature in
its most beautiful aspect.
Formation of the First Greek Settlements in the
According to Liddell and Scott’s An Intermediate
Greek-English Lexicon, the word Pontos stands
for the sea, especially the open sea. In time,
the word Pontos became associated with the
north-eastern portion of Asia Minor that borders
the Black Sea (see Map 1).1 The Greeks first
called the Black Sea, Aξεινος πóντος
(inhospitable, unfriendly pontos), but later it
was called Εϋξεινος πóντος (hospitable pontos)
when they became aware of its wealth in the
lands around it ...
Crypto-Christians of the Trabzon Region
The crypto-Christians (also called cryphi,
klosti, Stavriotes, Kromledes) were Christian
Greeks who due to the Muslim persecution against
Christians publicly declared themselves Muslims.
However, in secret, they upheld their Greek
language, customs and Christian religious
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Kackars Wonderland in the
lakes on one
National Park ski center travel Turkey *for
you like it, snow in the city wears a person
out. And if it catches the city unawares, it can
mean some pretty tense and annoying days. Dense
snowfall in a virgin, unspoiled natural
environment in contrast, white as far as the eye
can see, is not an ordeal but a pleasure. And
Ilgaz, with its natural beauty and texture, can
afford you that pleasure.
and, as its
Smoky mountains and secluded lakes Borcka
lake secluded amidst pine trees in the foothills
of the mountains... Another of the Black Sea's
hidden treasures confronts me at Borçka. From
there I head first to Macahel on the Georgian
border with its natural beauty and beautiful
people, and then to the endless valleys of
Turkey considered as the gateway between Europe
and Asia is an Eurasian country located on the
Mediterranean stretching across the Anatolian
peninsula in southwest Asia and the Balkan
region of southeastern Europe. It is bordered by
the Black Sea, the Marmara Sea, the Aegean Sea
and Mediterranean Sea. Turkey is a
fascinating country where many important
civilizations have flourished since 9,000 BC.
Turkey was home from the ancient Hittites,
Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines to the
Ottomans which have left behind them superb
architectural, archaeological and historical
heritage. Modern Turkey is a secular and
democratic Moslem country, founded in 1920 by
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and from that time,
Turkey has been suffering big changes and one of
the most notable is its rapidly economic
development. Despite of its traditional and
Islam roots, Turkey is decidedly western
oriented country and today is considered as a
candidate to be part of the European Union,
which will permit to the country grow up more.
Istanbul Travel guide
Istanbul is often described as
"the crossroads of Europe and
TURKEY TRAVEL TIPS:
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Short History of Turkey
The Communications in Turkey
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Folklore and Ethnographic materials
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From Karalahana Travel Forum
Autumn in the south Rize
province on the eastern Black Sea
Macahel Artvin: TURKEY'S
NEXTDOOR NEIGHBOR GEORGIA
A Laz tradition: Hawking in
Turkey’s East Black Sea region
Black Sea Cuisine, Pontos
culinary and recipes
Pontic Mountains of Turkey:
The Kaçkars travel tips and photos
Borçka – Şavşat, Macahel on
the Georgian border
Highlands of Black Sea
The Eastern Black Sea
mountains travel tips and photos
Gümüşhane travel tips,
Arygryopolis travel photos
Turkey's Black Sea Coast
travel, Pontos travel tips, photos and info
All about Pontic-Anatolian
Trabzon travel tips, travel
guide and Trabzon travel photos
Traditional man clothes from Trabzon
Traditional woman clothes from Trabzon
BLACK SEA REGION, TURKEY
Black Sea Personality" Directly or in spirit, the
Black Sea people are
descendants of the wild mountain tribes that Xenophon described 2400 years ago.
To be sure, they are neither wild nor at all primitive today. But one can still
sense how their independent and assertive spirit made generations of imperial
chroniclers and would-be dominators so wary of their manners.
They are an idiosyncratic lot. The "Black Sea personality" reflects a distinct
culture that is far removed from either the dour fatalism of the Anatolian
interior or the easygoing style of the Mediterranean seacoast. Two aspects of
the land may have shaped its traits.
First, the topography. Inaccessible valleys among trackless mountains
constitutes the setting that has traditionally defined the Black Sea lifestyles.
Like mountain people all over the world (one thinks specifically of the
Scotsmen, the Basques or even the Swiss), their inhabitants have a highly
developed sense of clan and community loyalties. They are intense and proud
people, quick to respond to any perceived attack on their territory, honor or
freedom-if necessary, by taking the law into their own hands. The manufacture
and use of guns is a passion. The delimitation of highland meadows among
villages and clans has traditionally given rise to serious hostilities that
sometimes last for generations. But the same feeling of territory and honor also
gives rise to an equally strong sense of hospitality. Any outsider who takes the
trouble to visit these far-away valleys is automatically a guest and will be
treated to the most cordial welcome. The open and friendly hospitality of the
Turkish people is often cited as one of the main pleasures of traveling in
Turkey. But the Black Sea region surpasses the rest of the country in this
Second: The land may be wild but it is also prodigiously fertile. Unlike the
interior highlands where culture has been shaped by centuries of grinding
poverty, the Black Sea man tends to be merry, extroverted and colorful. People
enjoy having fun to a degree that the more conservative parts of the country
would consider scandalous. Their music is fast and boisterous, its lyrics often
risque, its rhythms utterly unlike the melancholy strains of most Turkish music.
Alcohol is consumed with gusto. Wit and a certain panache are appreciated, and
eccentricity tolerated as a character trait. Telling tall tales is a regional
specialty. These characteristics grow more accentuated as one moves eastward. At
the eastern end one encounters an extraordinary quota of idiosyncratic
individuals, with the unmistakable glint in the eyes and self-deprecating wit
that are the Laz hallmarks.
The combination of intensity, wits and a good measure of clan solidarity seems
to ensure business success. Spreading around the country, Black Sea people have
earned a reputation (or notoriety) for gaining control of crucial businesses
everywhere. Much of Turkey's real estate and construction industry is owned by
Trabzon and Rize. Most shipowners and seamen also come from there.
The bread industry belongs to people from Of while (Çamlihemşin has a
near-monopoly on pastryshops. The quirkiest financial genius of modern Turkey,
thrice-bankrupted billionnaire Cevher Ozden, alias Kastelli, hails from Surmene.
The country's biggest export trader of recent years, Hasbi Menteşoglu, is an
elementary school dropout from (Çarşamba.
Politics is another field of prominence.
Three major political parties have seen their
Istanbul chapters led by men from Rize and (Çayeli in the last decade. A sin¬gle village in Sürmene boasts two
major politicians and two top public servants while Of has produced two party
Predictably the Black Sea man, or the "Laz" as he is called with a mixture of
affection and sneer, has become a stock figure of the Turkish social typology,
The stereotypical Laz is called either Temel or Dursun. He sports a majestic
nose and speaks Turkish with an outrageous accent. His diet consists of hamsi
anchovies), cooked to the legendary one hundred recipes that include hamsi bread
and hamsi jam, with corn bread and dark cabbage to accompany. He dances a wild
horon to the syncopated, manic tunes of his kemençe.
His oddball sense of humor makes him the butt of an entire genre of jokes. To a
certain extent these jokes correspond to those of the Polish, Scottish,
Marsilian or Basque variety, but they lack the crude ridicule that characterizes
some of the latter. In most stories Temel either pursues an altogether wacky
idea, or responds to situations with an insane non-sequitur. The best ones
contain a hint of self-mockery, and it is not really clear who the joke is on.
Inevitably the most brilliant Laz jokes are invented and circulated by the Laz
Laz and Not-So-Laz Underneath these broad generalizations, the population of the
Black Sea region forms in reality a crazy-quilt of different ethnic, linguistic
and cultural units. The patchwork diversity of the Swiss or the indigenous
cultures of the North American Pacific are the parallels that come to mind.
Take the Laz. For the average Turk any native of the Black Sea region is a
"Laz". But the average Turk who knows all about Temel and Dursun is often not
aware that there exists a specific people called the Liz, who form only a small
fraction of the people of the Black Sea. Numbering less than 150,000, the Laz in
the proper sense of the term inhabit the five townships of Pazar, Ardeşen,
Findikli, Arhavi and Hopa at the far eastern end of the Turkish coast as well as
a few villages beyond the Soviet border. They have their own language, unrelated
to Turkish, and their own history going back thousands of years. The Mingreli
who live north of Batumi in the Soviet Union speak a version of the same
language and differ mainly in that they remained Christians while the Laz
converted to Islam some 500 years ago.
The Laz first surface in history when a kingdom bearing their name came to
dominate Colchis through an obscure series of events in the I st century BC. The
usual assumption is that they were originally a
tribe or sub-unit of the
Colchians. Romantics have speculated about a possible
connection between the predominantly blond, blue-eyed Laz and the horde of Goths
who devastated Trebizond in 276 AD and then dropped out of sight in this
vicinity. No one has studied their language for Germanic traces. In its basic
structure it is a linguistic relative of Georgian that is laced with a surfeit
Greek and Turkish words. It does not have a written form and, with
the successful integration of the Laz into Turkish society, it is likely to
disappear as a living language within a couple of generations.
The inhabitants of the Trabzon and Rize countryside, too, are often given the
blanket appellation of Laz, although they would never refer to themselves as
such. The stereotypical "Laz" variety of Turkish is in fact a characteristic of
this region. Despite a common accent and other unity¬ing traits (notably female
dress), this area presents a kaleidoscope of different cultures. The valleys of
Of and (Çaykara, for example, speak a
dialect of Greek as their first language
and display a marked sense of distinct identity. They also boast the highest
proportion of mosques, Quranic schools and bearded Muslim scholars in the whole
country The valleys of Tonya and Maçka speak Greek, too. But they tend to take
the precepts of Islam with a grain of salt and heap scorn on the pious antics of
their linguistic relatives in Of. Both groups earnestly deny being at all of
Greek descent-which may be partly an effect of Turkish Republican education, but
more likely reflects a dim memory of the times when the Empire of Trebizond
forcibly Hellenized the native tribes in these same mountains.
Turkish is the native language in other cantons of the Trabzon-Rite area. Little
over 300 years ago though, the traveler Evliya (Çelebi reported that at least
two more now extinct native languages were spoken in this area in addition to
Turkish, Greek, Georgian and Laz. He recorded one specimen which seems heavily
mixed with Greek but is otherwise unintelligible.
There is more to the collage. The dis¬trict of Çamlihemsin in the
highlands behind Pazar and Ardesen is inhabited by an altogether different
people who are called the Hemsinlis. They display their own sense of communal
identity, with their own music, traditional female dress and linguistic
peculiarities. They are loath to he called Laz. Hemsinli communities settled
further northeast in the mountain villages of Hopa speak a language called "Hemsince",
which turns out to be a dialect of Armenian.
The kemençe, a sort of piccolo violin with a tinny short-breathed sound
perfectly suited to the neurotic accents of Black Sea music, is used in the
Trabzon-Rite area and along the Laz coast east of Rize. The Hemsinlis and the
villagers of the Artvin region, by contrast, play the tulum-a bagpipe made of
goatskin producing a very Scottish-sounding drone. West of Giresun the customary
Turkish zurna (a type of clarinette) and davul (kettledrum) take over the
On the 68 kilometer drive between Hopa and Artvin, the traveler passes through
four linguistic zones: Laz in Hopa. Hemhsinese in the mountains. Georgian in
Borçka, and Turkish in Artvin-town. The Georgian-speakers of the Borçka-Camili
and Meydancik valleys in Artvin province, located on opposite sides of the same
mountain, employ mutually unintelligible dialects of the same language.
The Giresun highlands host a large number of (Çepni comnuinities who are
descendants of the Türkmen tribes who settled here in the 13th century. They are
said to adhere to the Alevi faith, a " heretical" variety of Shiite Islam. When
pressed for clarifications, though, they seem unable to explain the differences
between their sect and mainstream Sunni Islam. Fatsa, Bolaman and their
hinterland, by contrast, are more self-consciously Alevi and consequently
embrace the left-wing political sympathies usually associated with that sect.
Giresun and Ordu also have large elements of immigrants from various parts of
Turkey who moved in three generations ago to replace the departing
Trabzon city has a substantial community of Bosnian Muslims, immigrants from
Yugoslavia. In the districts of Onye and Ordu many villages are populated by
descendants of the Georgian and Abkhazian refugees of 1877, some of whom retain
their old Ianguage.
clothes in Ottoman empire era, man from
Trabzon city, woman from Trabzon, man from
rural area - Laz People
clothes in Ottoman empire era, man from
Trabzon city, woman from Trabzon, woman from
As in many other parts of Turkey, the most immediate manifestation of communal
distinctions along the Black Sea coast is the traditional wear of women. Men are
uniformly boring in their "western" garb.
Learning to recognize the telltale nuances of the colorful costumes of village
women, on the other hand, can develop into one of the major joys of a Black Sea
voyage. The beautiful hand-made fabrics that are used for these costumes make
some of the most interesting souvenirs that one could bring back from a trip.
Traditional clothing is most commonly worn by women in the
The distinctive attire of this region consists of the pestemal, a boldly striped
piece of linen wrapped around the waist, and the keşan, a finely patterned
red-black-cream shawl that covers the head and torsosometimes the face as well
when a stranger is seen to approach. The combination is worn in a precisely
delimited region between Tirebolu in the west and Çayeli in the east. The keşan
is more or less uniform within this region. Peştemal fashions, on the other
hand, vary from district to district: burgundy/cream stripes are worn by all
women in Akçaabat, brown/black dominates in Tonya, while most fashionconscious
ladies prefer crimson/black in
Sürmene. Rize has its own unique orange and
prussian blue aprons. It is also interesting to note that in some highland
districts the keşan-and-peştemal "look" was only adopted within the last
generation. In Tonya and Maçka, for example, one can still see older women
wearing a very dif¬ferent costume made of black silk brocade complemented with a
bright orange waistcloth while younger women copy the "fashions" of the coast.
Both the Ordu-Giresun region in the west and the Laz districts east of Rize have
mostly dropped traditional attires in favor of either the generalized Turkish
peasant dress of loose print skirts or a modern appearance.
Hemşinli women, by
contrast, wear a wholly unique apparel which consists of patterned mountaineers'
socks, knee-length skirts made of black wool and bright orange silk scarves.
scarves, interestingly enough, are not made locally but imported or smuggled in
from the Middle East. They are wrapped in a special manner around the top of the
head, over a black chiffon kerchief that is usually adorned with ornamental
trinkets. The overall effect cannot fail to remind one of 13th century European
The transmontane interior is where one begins to encounter serious feminine
cover-up. A black silk "chador" is in fashion in Gümüşhane and Torul. A white
cotton towel often covers the mouth. In Bayburt, the visitor is treated to the
striking sight of women clad from tip to toe in a
brown silk or wool "body bag" that completely covers their face as well.
The symbolic meaning that these traditional outfits carry for the wearer can he
divined from the example of a lady seen at the Trabzon airport. Apparently the
wife of a local politician and impeccably dressed in modern clothes, the young
woman wore a spiffy European designer scarf with a plaid pattern in red, cream
and black-the colors of a traditional keşan!
The valley is the basic unit that defines a community in the Black Sea region. A
major valley is one that carries a river that discharges into the sea. It
usually coincides with the administrative division of an ilçe which is usually
translated as a "district", but might be better rendered as a "canton" in the
Black Sea context. Rather than a village or a province (as in most other parts
of the country), people seem to identify most strongly with their valley/canton.
As with everything else in the Black Sea, this tendency gets more accentuated as
one moves further east. The extreme case is the five Laz-speaking cantons which
tend to regard each other pretty much as alien lands. The five villages of a
side valley that was transferred ages ago from Of to Sürmene are accused of
still pursuing "Of nationalism" by disgusted people in downstream Siürmene. When
there is no linguistic or sectarian difference between two cantons, then people
at least make sure that they vote for different parties and support different
Each canton has a main town that serves as administrative center and market. It
is usually on the seashore, although the more interesting ones like amlıhemşin
Maçka or Tonya are inland. The town is referred to as "the market". Regarded as
a merely functional public place, little attention is paid to its esthetic
upkeep. In the pre-1923 order of things towns used to be primarily the domain of
the Greeks. The prettiest ones today are where their legacy is most apparent,
like Akçaabat and Tireholu. Since the departure of the Greeks, towns have been
characterized by the unfortunate decay of architecturally valuable old
neighborhoods and a property boom that has turned them into extended
construction sites. The boom is financed mostly by the remittances and savings
of emigrants who have made good in the big city. Much of the money that they
bring in is invested in real estate for long or very long term dividends-hence
the endless rows of half finished apartment buildings that line the coast, and
the countless brand new mosques that dot the landscape.
People may keep property and maintain ties in the town but the valley is where
they usually have their ancestral home. Farmlands extend over the sharply rising
terrain to an altitude of 1200 to 1500 meters. The most noticeable aspect of the
landscape is that villages in the
Anatolian sense do not exist here. What is called a village is often a mosque,
several cafes and sometimes a few shops, with bunches of farmhouses scattered
all over the mountain and set apart by forest patches and fields.
Several reasons have been offered for this settlement pattern. One is that the
danger of flooding compels people to build their
houses on high and sloping
ground (sometimes very high and very sloping indeed!). Another is that the
abundance of water removes the need to huddle around a spring as in inner
Anatolia. But perhaps the basic reason is the simplest one: these people like
having a good view and detest it when their next-door neighbor looks down into
their backyard. The cramped existence of the Anatolian peasant is something
incomprehensible to the people of the Black Sea. Most folks cherish the idea of
being the lord of one's own valley, with the sense of freedom and self-respect
that it engenders. It is in this setting that they feel safest, most confident
and most hospitable.
It is also here that the best specimens of traditional Black Sea wood and
woodland-stone architecture are to he found although they are fast giving way to
apartment buildings that look utterly surreal standing in the middle of the
wilderness. The building style of traditional
houses varies between regions. The
most gorgeous arc arguably in the district of Çamlıhemşin or in Artvin's
Meydancik valley. The Of and Sürmene uplands also offer fine examples, while the
Torul-Kürtün area has its own unique style. Common features include being
enormously panoramic, and often spacious enough to
accomodate an old-fashioned family of a dozen or two. A large family was once
considered essential, as were a few well-drilled pistols, to deter a hostile
approach-and old traditions die hard.
Situated above the village belt is the yayla country. Around 1200 meters, the
landscape begins to change. Giant conifers replace deciduous trees while tea and
hazelnut plantations disappear.
Rhododendron ponticum, the yellow azalea and
alpine lilies become ubiquitous. Vast rolling pastures, rising at every possible
angle and curvature of the plane. extend to an altitude of 3000 meters. The sun
shines more often here than in the cloudy low lands. Few people live in the
yayla \ear round: in winter the re- ion is deserted sav -e for the solitary
village fool, a few lost cows and a rare wilderness skier. Summer is a different
Above the Clouds
Since time immemorial, Black Sea people have migrated each summer to the yayla,
to escape the humid heat of the low¬lands and to let cows take advantage of the
rich pastures. The tradition continues in full force: some go for the sake of
the cows, some because father did so before them, others just to enjoy the
intoxicating effects of high mountain air. Some move up for the whole season,
taking the ani¬mals and grandfather's armchair and pots and pans with them while
others make the sortie for a few days at a time.
"Going up to the yayla" is the most exciting event of the year. Many people who
have left the land of their birth to live elsewhere come back each year merely
for the sake of the yayla. Many regard the yayla as a cleansing experience,
attributing it an almost mystical aura. Some argue that one has not seen
anything of the Black Sea if one hasn't seen the yayla.
The yayla is dotted with summer settlements which tend to be older and more
compact places than the villages lower down. Each is the property of a village
or valley, with ancient imperial writs to back up the claim. The yayla season
formally begins on the first day of summer, which ancient tradition places on
the "Sixth of May" (May 20 on the modern calendar). The strangest millenial folk
rituals are revived on this day. Everywhere people feast and make merry in the
fields. Virgins bury a ring under a rose bush, evoking mysterious pre-Islamic
(and pre-Christian) saints. Coarse grains are thrown into the wind to feed "the
birds and the wolves". At Giresun Island large crowds gather as they did in
earliest Greek times, to throw 15 ("seven pairs and one") peb¬bles into the
water and to circle the island thrice in rowboats. Then, for three days they
make music, dance the boron and soak themselves in alcohol.
horon is usually performed by men. Dancers stand in a circle, holding hands.
At first their steps are tentative, slow, even awkward. They gather speed as the
music becomes wilder. The dance turns by degrees into the expression of an
intense machismo, then increasingly into an explosive, boiling frenzy. The name
of the dance is a legacy of the Greek choron and indicates a direct line of
descent from the ancient Bacchic rites where celebrants went into a wild frenzy
to honor the god of wine.
Merrymaking continues in the yayla, in fits and starts, throughout the season.
The veneer of city culture gets stripped off. Oxcarts replace taxis while people
who normally wear suit and tie put on their tra¬ditional dress. On appointed
days, and often in between, they organize festivities. Guests from other valleys
arrive on these days, along with the traveling bards, professional wrestlers,
trinket sellers and the best dancers of the province. For three days and three
nights, they drink, dance, wrestle, fight and gamble. Eternal friends and mortal
enemies are made. Handguns and bagpipes come out of winter storage. Cows and
bulls are decked out in festival frills. At Hidırnebi near Trabzon, participants
form a 1000-person horon ring. At Kafkasor above Artvin, they hold bull¬fights.
At Kadirga, at the intersection of the cantons of Maçka, Torul and Tonya, the
three communities get together to reen¬act long-forgotten hostilities. Everyone
is welcome at the festivities. Every visitor becomes part of the ongoing show.
And it is here in the breathtaking scenery of the mountains that the casual
outsider first begins to penetrate the ,Wade, and catches a fleeting glimpse of
the real spirit of the Black Sea.'
to Black Sea’s blue and the mountains’ green and
Greek Penetration of the Black
of language, Pontiaka trebizond Greek
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