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Pontos, Black Sea Region Turkey travel guide

A travel guide of Turkey Black Sea Region (Antique Pontus Πόντος of Anatolia)

Turkey Travel guide, Turkey travel tips and photos

Turkey Travel tips, guide, photos

Wolrd, europe, asia, africa travel tips, info, guide, photo galleries

World travel tips, guide, info, photo galleries

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Sinop city travel
Sinop travel
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.

pontian greek Development of the Pontic Greek Dialect
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

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.

Greek settlements pontos map
Formation of the First Greek Settlements in the Pontos

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 ...

Chrypto-christians Trabzon Pontos Matsouka

Crypto-Christians of the Trabzon Region of Pontos

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 practices...

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Ayder. From the Ardeşen fork on, the Firtina River

 Kackars Wonderland in the clouds

Glacier lakes on one side, yellow rhododendrons on the other, the Kaçkars offer an inviting natural environment. Leaving Rize behind, we start our adventure through the Ayder, Lower Kavron and Upper Kavron Highlands 

Ilgaz
 
Ilgaz National Park ski center travel Turkey *for winter vacation



Even if 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.

Gorele Kerasus Pontos images

 Gorele - Modern Coralla Kerasus Giresun

A misty green plateau recedes into the distance. The tinkle of goat bells mingles with the strains of a 'kemençe'. The local folk sway back and forth in native costume. This is Black Sea Giresun's 'Görele' and, as its name indicates, it's well worth seeing.

Imagine a 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 Şavşat
 Smoky mountains and secluded lakes Borcka Savsat
Imagine a 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 Şavşat 
turkey travel guide travel tips turkey

Travel Turkey

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.

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Istambul Travel Guide Istanbul Travel guide
Istanbul is often described as "the crossroads of Europe and Asia"...
Ankara Travel Guide Ankara Travel tips Ankara Travel guide
Ankara is a huge university town and you'll find the streets of Kizilay...
Izmir Travel Guide Izmir Travel tips Izmir Travel guide
The third largest, and one of the most beautiful provinces is Izmir...

 TURKEY TRAVEL TIPS:

Travel Turkey,Travel tips Turkey
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Short History of Turkey
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Artvin travel 

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

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Borçka – Şavşat, Macahel on the Georgian border

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BLACK SEA: TOUR GUIDE AND TRAVEL TIPS

BLACK SEA: TOUR GUIDE AND TRAVEL TIPS

From the European border with Bulgaria to the Georgian border, dense pine forests cover the mountaintops while lush vegetation and bountiful crops grow on the lower elevations and valleys. Along the coastline, mile after mile of beautiful uncrowded beaches offer sun, swimming and relaxation. In the springtime, delicate wild-flower 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 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 hiker, mountain climber or canoe enthusiast whether you go in by mountain bike or by jeep safari, Archeological excavations from the early Neolithic Age settlements at Ikiztepe in Samsun Province have uncovered evidence of the region's earliest inhabitants between 7000 - 5000 BC. The Hittites, Miletians, Phrygians and, according to Homer, the Amazons all colonized parts of the coast. Alexander the Great in his world conquest also brought the region under his sovereignty. Eventually, it was incorporated into the Roman and then the Byzantine Empire. The 15th century saw the greater part of the area come under the Ottoman rule of Sultan Mehmet II.

Ordu Karayolları Haritası

The Black Sea is easily accessible to tourists and provides a wide range of hotels and restaurants at a variety of prices. Amasya castle

Amasya castle

THE WESTERN BLACK SEA COAST

The Yildiz (Istranca) Mountains bisect the province of Kirklareli. Lush mountainous landscape dotted with quaint houses transport you to an idyllic and tranquil reverie. In the city of Kirklareli the oldest mosque is the Hizirbey Mosque, built in 1383. The mosque complex includes a bazaar. Nearby stands a
hamam (bath) also built under the patronage of Hizir Bey. The 14th-century Kirklar Memorial with its impressive 18 columns stands on Kirklar Hill honoring the site where 40 soldiers lost their lives when the Ottomans conquered this area under the command of Murat I. The Archeology Museum exhibits finds from local excavations.
The Sokollu Mosque in Luleburgaz, on the
Edirne-Istanbul road, is an exquisite work of the famous architect Sinan that dates from 1570. The neighboring town of Babaeski also boasts a Sinan building in the Cedid Ali Pasa Mosque.

Vize (Byzia), an important Byzantine center, houses the Kucuk Ayasofya church and a castle, both dating from the Byzan tine period.

If you are travelling north to Bulgaria, linger for a few hours in the peaceful and town of Derekoy, the last stop before the border.

Kirklareli's Black Sea Coast is another place to enjoy beaches and good seafood restaurants. Igneada, 98 km east of Kirklareli, lies sandwiched between sandy shores and the Yildiz Mountains. Kiyikoy (Midye) is another resort town with good accommodation and picturesque dwellings from the Middle Ages. The town and its walls date from the Byzantine period. The best site to visit in Midye is the historic St. Nicholas Rock Monastery. Also on the European Black Sea coast, only 35 km from Istanbul, are the sandy beaches, and hotels, motels and camping facilities of Kilyos.

Across the Bosphorus, 71 km from Istanbul on the Asian shore, Sile's long sandy beaches, overlooked by the remains of a Genoese Castle, attract many visitors. The excellent restaurants and night life make it a popular weekend retreat for Istanbul residents. Cotton blouses and shirts (Sile Bezi) are sewn and embroidered here.

Originally founded by a Polish prince as a home for Polish exiles, Polonezkoy (25 km from Istanbul) has been transformed into a relaxing resort with guest houses and restaurants serving a delicious selection of fresh local produce. Inland from the coast, the rolling hills and peaceful woods make an excellent area for horseback riding. Agva (50 km east of Sile), on the banks of a river as well as on the shores of the Black Sea, is surrounded by lovely scenery, ideal for a camping holiday. Kerpe, Kefken and Karasu are three quaint fishing villages east of Agva. Delightful restaurants and limpid water draw a constant stream of visitors.

Rize traditional buildings

Inland, between Ankara and Istanbul, is Bolu (262 km from Istanbul and 192 km from Ankara), an important provincial center with an impressive 14th-century Ulu Mosque and modem thermal facilities close at hand. The Bolu Archeology and Ethnography Museum has artifacts from the Hittite, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods. Southwest of Bolu is the popular and relaxing Lake Abant resort, set in lovely alpine surroundings at an altitude of 1,500 m. Istanbul residents often escape to the lake for a weekend of fresh air and exercise. Houses carved out of rock may be seen in the Solaklar, Muslar, and Alpagut villages of Seben County 52 km south of Bolu.

Kartalkaya, one of Turkey's major ski resorts, is in the Koroglu Mountains. In the summer you can stop for a picnic at Golcuk Lake. The breathtakingly beautiful Yedi Goller (Seven Lakes) National Park lies north of Bolu. Nearby, the town of Mengen has a reputation for its good cooks and holds the annual Chefs' Festival in August, featuring traditional Turkish specialities.

The sites around Konuralp (45 km west of Bolu, 5 km north of Duzce), the ancient Prusa ad Hypium, continue to yield artifacts from both the Roman and Byzantine periods, which are on display in the local museum. Among the ruins, the Roman theater is not to be missed. The Samandere waterfall is in Duzce County's Kaynasli Samandere village 25 km south of the D 100 highway. Lake Efteni, 14 km southwest of Duzce housing many species of birds in a pristine setting is a wonderful, relaxing spot for bird watchers.

The Byzantine Asar Castle is located 50 km east of Bolu near Orencik in Gerede County. Plateaus at an elevation above 1000 m are favorite spots for locals and tourists to relax, away from the heat of summer. Some of the best in Bolu province are Aladag, Kizik, and At.

Back on the coast, the lovely beach and comfortable guest houses and hotels at Akcakoca ensure that it remains a popular holiday resort. Twenty-seven km east of Akcakoca, you can explore the remains of a Genoese castle now set amid hazelnut groves.

Uzungol, Trabzon

Uzungol, Trabzon

Alapli is an ideal place for water sports, especially sailing and surfing. Long sandy beaches stretch east and west on both sides of the town.
Eregli, whose ancient name was Herakleia Pontika, stands on a hill adjacent to a Byzantine castle. In the spring the aroma of strawberries, some of the sweetest grown in Turkey, fills the air, making a visit a mouthwatering experience. Eregli derives its name from the mythological demi-god, Hercules, who, in the 11th century caught the three-headed dog, Cerberus, guardian of the gates of hell. According to Xenophon, Cerberus resided in the cave Cehennemagzi (Entrance to Hell), outside of Eregli near Kavakderesi. Eregli was Turkey's first important mining town.

Zonguldak, called Sandra or Sandraka in ancient times, is a major center of coal production and an important Black Sea port. The ancient history of this region including Paflagonia and Bithynia was influenced by the cultures of the Hittites, Phrygians, Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, and Byzantines. Later the various Turkish cultures left their influence on the area. The scenic road on the east side of town leads to the areas of Kopuz and Uzunkum, where tea gardens and restaurants beckon tourists to spend a leisurely afternoon. Plateaus, the highest of which is Bacakli at 1,637 m, offer many opportunities to enjoy nature along hiking trails. Zonguldak also contains interesting caves including Kizilelma, Sofular, and Cokgol. Mineral dyes have been used since ancient times to dye cloth, thread, and even furnitureConnoisseurs of fine hand-crafted wood, travel to Devrek, a pretty town 50 km southeast of Zonguldak, to purchase its renowned wooden canes which have been made there for a 100 years.

Karabuk, situated 10 km northeast of Safranbolu is the most important industrial center in Turkey, known for its iron and steel industry. Not far from Karabuk lies the charming park of Camlik, the perfect place for rest and relaxation. The entire area is laced with pine forests and there is a lovely tea garden and restaurant in a nice place to enjoy nature. Parachuting may be done from the Sorgun cliff.

Also inland and further to the east is charming Safranbolu. Step back in time in the lovely "old world" style of the town to see some of the most beautiful traditional homes, unique in Turkey for their outstanding design and construction. The most interesting of these include Kaymakamlar House, Aygiroglu House, and Asmazlar Havuzlu Konak which has been restored and is now a hotel operated by the Turkish Touring Automobile Club. The Mektepciler House is also noteworthy as is the Haci Memisler House. Pasa House is also restored and has been converted into a lovely cafe and inn. The castle on the hill offers a vista of the town. Be sure to see the Cinci Inn and Hamam (17th-century Turkish bath), the Izzet Mehmet Pasa Mosque and Library (18th-century), and the Koprulu Mosque which also dates from the 17th century. Also worth seeing are the Dagdelen Mosque (18th-century) and Kacak Lutfiye Mosque (I 9th-century). UNESCO has named Safranbolu as an international cultural area and one of the world's heritage sites.

Zilkale castle-Rize

Safranbolu originally takes its name from the saffron fields that dotted the area in the 19th century. Today, saffron fields abound around village of Davutobasi, 20 km away, where a thriving saffron business continues. Before leaving, be sure not to miss the Arasta (Old Bazaar) where you can watch craftsmen at work and bargain with them for their goods.

"Lokum" (Turkish Delight) is also a special treat, unique among lokum connoisseurs and a must to sample.

About 36 km south of Karabuk is Eskipazar, where the old Omer Beyler mansion is located. It is now restored and famous for its ornately decorated ceilings. Eskipazar also contains ruins from the Miletian colonists who founded Kotyara in 800 B.C.

Bartin, called Parthenios in ancient times, is a pretty city of timbered houses 80 km east of Zonguldak that holds a strawberry festival every year in the spring. Homer records that warriors from Bartin helped
Troy in the Trojan war. The remains of a five m wide Roman road dating back to the reign of the Emperor Claudius can still be seen. A boat trip on the Bartin River makes for a delightful excursion. Nearby, Inkum has been developed into a holiday village with a sandy beach, restaurant and guest houses.

Amasra (17 km from Bartin), one of the most beautiful towns on the Black Sea coast, was called Sesamos in ancient times, when it was founded by the Miletians in the sixth century B.C. It stands on a peninsula made by two inlets. The eastern side enjoys a reputation for good swimming. On a rocky promontory rise the ramparts of a Byzantine citadel, inside of which is an old church, now the Fatih Mosque. The necropolis dates from the Roman period. Remnants from Amasra's entire history are displayed in the Archeology Museum. You can purchase a lovely hand carved wooden souvenir on Cekiciler street. Continuing eastward along the coast, you arrive at Cakraz (15 km east of Amasra) a typical fishing village with excellent beaches, inviting accommodations and fine restaurants. The winding road between Cakraz and Inebolu has steep mountainsides and offers a spectacular panoramic view
Beyond Cakraz and 44 km east of Amasra is Kurucasile, a town known for its fishing boat manufacturing. Cide, 28 km farther, has good hotels and a pleasant beach providing comfort and relaxation. Gideros Bay will make you think a dream has come true.

Inebolu (100 km east of Cide) is a typical Black Sea town set in lush greenery displaying many fine examples of traditional Turkish architecture. East of Inebolu is Abana, another good holiday center.

Situated inland amid beautiful forests, the provincial center of Kastamonu (90 km south of Inebolu) also boasts several important monuments: the 12th-century Byzantine castle built by the Comnenes, the 13th-century Atabey Mosque and the l4th-century Ibni Neccar Mosque. The Archeology and Ethnography Museum displays artifacts found in the region, and the Liva Pasa Mansion Museum also has local ethnographical artifacts. Near the town is Evkaya, a rock tomb dating from the 6th century B.C. In the village of Kasaba, the l4th- century Mahmut Bey Mosque retains some of the finest wood carvings found anywhere in Turkey. About 41 km west of Kastamonu and 9 km west of Daday, Comlekciler village has traditional timber houses and farms offering country horseback riding tours.

Then, 63 km south of Kastamonu is Ilgaz National Park, a delightful protected area in the Ilgaz Mountains with a ski center and good accommodations. East of the park by the Devrez and Kizilirmak Rivers, is Tosya where extensive rice fields cover the landscape.

Ilgarini Cave, in the region of Pinarbasi (northwest of Kastamonu), is one of the largest caves in Turkey. It is a wonderful place for trekking and exploration off the beaten path.

Trabzon Karayolları Haritası

Amisos Mozayiği

THE EASTERN BLACK SEA COAST



Sinop (192 km northeast of Kastamonu) is one of the most beautiful natural harbors of the Black Sea, where the first evidence of civilization dates from 4500 B.C. It was founded as a major colony in the seventh century B.C. by Miletian colonists and was the birthplace of the third century B.C. philosopher, Diogenes the Cynic. The town's citadel and the foundations of a temple dedicated to the god Serapis, who was supposedly born in Sinop, date from that period. Serapis was worshipped in the Roman world as far away as Egypt. After the Miletians, subsequent rulers included the Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and beginning in 146, the Ottomans. The Archeology Museum's collection includes several beautiful golden icons, and the 18th-century Aslan Torunlar Mansion Museum displays ethnographical artifacts. Other important monuments include the 13th-century Alaeddin Mosque and the Alaiye Medrese. Excellent seafood restaurants along the charming fishermen's wharf serve tasty meals, while brightly colored boats bobbing in the water complete the picturesque panorama. Sinop is also known for its traditional nautical wooden carvings. Seaside hotels and STET villages provide accommodations 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 1,350 m, these green pastures with their summer inhabitants offer a glimpse into a traditional way of life.

Gerze is situated on a peninsula 40 km east along the coast and is surrounded by parks and beaches. After Akkum beach you can see Turkey's only fjord, the Hamsaros. Farther along the coastal road, 44 km east of Gerze, 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 (30 km east of Yakakent) a town famous for its tobacco, caviar and thermal springs. Its 13th-century hamam and 15th- century mosque-medrese complex are sights worth seeing. Ikiztepe, 7 km northeast of Bafra is an archeological site including over 600 graves from the early Bronze Age (2300-2100 B.C.) that uncovers much of Black Sea regional history. The site shows evidence of continual habitation from around 4000 B.C. until the time of the Hittites in 1700 B.C. The artifacts, including jewelry, which is especially impressive, can be seen in the Samsun museum. The Kizilirmak River delta area has also been inhabited since ancient times. The Paflagonia graves date from 700 B.C. And the castle is pessed at 1000 B.C. The Bafra Kizilirmak Delta Marsh provides refuge to over 300 species if birds with a total of 100,000 birds wintering there.

Samsun (418 km northeast of Ankara and 168 km southeast of Sinop) is a modern industrial city that has served as a major port 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. An equestrian statue honoring the founder of the republic stands in a prominent place in the city park. The 14th-century Pazar Mosque and the 19th-century Buyuk Mosque reflect two different Turkish architectural styles and are interesting to compare.

TRABZON gelekensel trabzon köy evi The Archeology Museum not only displays the finds from Ikiztepe but also artifacts from Dandartepe and Amisos, as Samsun was known in ancient times. Amisos, excavated in 1955, contained a treasury that was found in a square grave with five rooms carved out of conglomerate rock. Three contained skeletons; two were empty. Pottery, glass, metal, and marble artifacts were dated in the 4th century B.C. The golden jewelry was dated at 100 B.C. Other sites which have been excavated include Akalan, Tekkekoy, and Kaledorugu. About 69 other sites remain unexcavated.

Carsamba is the location of the beautiful wooden Gokceli Mosque, built in 1176 without using any metal nails.

Terme is ancient Themiskyna, founded in 1200 B.C. by Amazon warrior women. It has lovely beaches and lakes.

The charming little port of Unye (93 km east of Samsun) is one of the nicest holiday towns on the eastern Black Sea and justly boasts of its excellent beaches and camping facilities. Do not miss the extraordinary 18th-century town hall. Within easy reach of Unye is the beautiful Camlik Beach.

After Fatsa (22 km east of Unye), another resort town on the road to Ordu, the ruins of the Byzantine Jason Church, now a museum, stand on the Camburnu promontory. Legend has it that the Argonauts landed here during their quest for the Golden Fleece. Seafood restaurants; serving the finest tea found in the region dot the 50 km of scenic road to Ordu. Sea snails, a regional speciality, are particularly delicious at Yalikoy.

Returning from the Babylonian campaign, the survivors of "Xenophon's Ten Thousand" left Anatolia from Ordu in their retreat to the west. Evidence of habitation in Ordu dates to as early as 3000 B.C. Today, Ordu is a beautiful port situated at the foot of a forested hill. In the Pasaoglu Konak (mansion), now the Ethnographical Museum, see 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. An 18th-century church two km from town and the pretty beach of Guzelyali are worth visiting. The yayla (plateau) of Cambasi offering beautiful moun tain views lies 58 km further south, at an altitude of 1,250 m. The plateau of Keyfalan, at 2,000 m, is another popular summer destination for local residents.

The ruins of the Giresun Fortress offer a wonderful panorama of Giresun, 52 km east of Ordu. The fortress is located on the peninsula which divides the city in two. It is claimed that there is a cave under the castle facing the sea which was used as a church and shelter for as many as 1500 people. It was from Giresun, ancient Cerasos, that the Roman general Lucullus exported the first cherry trees to Europe. An 18th-century church (now a museum) makes a short visit worthwhile. Giresun Island, the only inhabitable island in the eastern Black Sea, is said to have once belonged to the Amazons. A ruined temple supports this theory. Other historical remains include two large wine barrels, castle walls, and a watchtower. The island was called Aretia, Aretias, or Areos. To get off the beaten track, take an excursion to the high mountain plateaus of Bektas or Kumbet. It is possible to enjoy walking, hiking, or bicycling in clean mountain air amidst lush green surroundings.

Between Giresun and Trabzon are the quaint coastal towns of Kesap, Tirebolu, Gorele, Vakfikebir and Akcaabat squeezed between wooded, mountains and the Black Sea waters. Stop at Gorele for delicious, submarine-shaped meat and cheese pide, at Vakfikebir for the best butter, and at Akcaabat to sample the best kofte (meat rolls).

Trabzon Yaylaları, Trabzon gezilecek yerler

Trabzon, a provincial capital 346 km east of Samsun, has a long history. The earliest evidence of civilization date to 7000 B.C. In 1200 B.C., warriors from Trabzon reportedly participated in the Trojan war. The area has been ruled by Assyrians, Miletians, Persians, Romans, Goths, Comnenes, and Ottomans. The Miletian colonists came in the 7th century B.C., and Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. The Romans engaged in an extensive building program from 110 to 118 A.D. The Goths conquered the area in 258. The jewel of Trabzon's monuments is the restored 13th- century Byzantine church, used for centuries as a mosque and now as the Ayasofya Museum. Splendid frescoes, some of the finest examples of Byzantine painting, cover all the interior church walls. It was built between 1250 and 1260 during the time of Manuel 1, one of the Comnene kings in Trabzon. Several other churches were converted to mosques, two becoming the Fatih Mosque and the Yeni Cuma Mosque. The Ottoman Gulbahar Hatun Mosque, a typical provincial style building, is set in a lovely tea garden. Wooden houses characterize the old quarter nestled in the ancient fortifications, which still retain the spirit of a medieval town. The house in which Ataturk stayed has been made into a museum.

On the hills above Trabzon, Boztepe Park offers a beautiful view of the city and coastline. On the western slopes of Boztepe Hill stands the Irene Tower, built by Empress Irene of Trabzon in 1340. Just east of the city, the village of Surmene has an impressive 19th-century mansion known as the Kastel. Near Trabzon, south of Akcaabat, the lovely highland meadows of Karadag, Hidirnebi and Erikbeli are ideal for hiking and picnics. Nearby, the Zahardag resort has been opened. The road inland from Trabzon winds through spectacular mountain landscape before reaching the Zigana Tunnel, the longest in Turkey. Nearby Hamsikoy is a charming mountain village, that has gained a national reputation for its excellent cuisine (including an excellent rice pudding), and is also convenient to the Zigana Ski Center. The beautiful meadows and highland plateaus of Gurgenagac Yaylasi, Kirazli Yaylasi and Solma Yaylasi are ideal sites for outdoor activities. The traditional Kadirga Festival celebrates the annual summer migration to the high mountain pastures.

Altindere National Park in Macka County provides a magnificent setting for the 14th- century
Sumela (Virgin Mary) Monastery, perched high on a cliff face 270 m above a deep gorge.

Surrounded by the ruins of the monks' quarters, is a church covered inside and out with brilliant frescoes. Southeast of Trabzon is Lake Uzungol, a lovely alpine lake surrounded by mountains and meadows, excellent for camping, hiking and fishing. The restaurants here also make it the best place for eating river trout. Gumushane (88 km east of Trabzon), on the ancient trade route between Trabzon and Iran was once of considerable importance. Many elegant buildings still remain. Set amid fruit groves and wild roses, the town is a natural stopping point between Trabzon and Erzurum. Take the opportunity to try the local rosehip, syrup and marmalade.
Bayburt (77 km from Gumushane), is situated on both banks of the Coruh River and lies on what was once known as the Silk Road. Marco Polo and the inveterate Turkish traveler Evliya Celebi both passed through this city. The remains of a Byzantine castle, as well as major mosques, Turkish baths and fascinating carved tombstones are among the significant attractionss. The castle survived many civilizations. It was controlled at various times by Romans, Byzantines, and Arabs before being captured by the Turks. Bayburt Castle, one of the most well preserved in Anatolia, is a particularly beautiful examples of Seljuk architecture. Two other important monuments in Bayburt are Ulu Mosque (18th-century) and the Clock Tower in the city center which dates from the republican period. Also worth seeing are the twin mausoleums of Sehit Osman and his sister, which are situated on the hillsides at the southern entrance to the city. Osman Park on the Coruh River has wonderful scenery and is a lovely place to relax.

Rize (75 km east of Trabzon) is built on a mountain slope covered with tea bushes that 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. Mehmet Mataraci Mansion is now an Ataturk Museum that displays his personal belongings as well as ethnographical artifacts from the region.

Turning inland after Ardesen off the road going east from Rize, you come to the beautiful little town of Camlihemsin straddling a rushing stream. Nearby is the
Firtina Vadisi (Valley of Storms) ideal for canoeing, and the beautiful Zil Castle (Kale-i Zir), and an old stone bridge. 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.

The whole of the Kackar Range constitutes the beautiful Kackar Daglari National Park. In the mountains south of Rize, Anzer village offers the world- famous and nutritious Anzer honey and is a nice area for hiking and for its botany. Ikizdere Canyon, between Anzer and Ikizdere Plateaus, is a great spot for hang- gliding. At the same time you get a bird's- eye view of the area. Near Rize, the towns of Cayeli, Pazar, Ardesen, Of and Findikli all enjoy a subtropical climate, lush green settings and boast traditional chalets. The Camburnu coast is covered with golden pine trees where many species of migrating birds stop, and it is a lovely area for resting and picture taking.
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 wonderful alpine lake of Karagol, with various pine trees, as well as other flora and fauna is 27 km northeast of the town of Borcka on the way to Artvin. The road to Artvin traverses the Cankurtaran mountain pass, where verdant the landscape changes to barren rocks. Hatilla Valley National Park, about 25 km in length, is 10 km from Artvin, between the confluence of the Coruh River and the Hatiila stream in the east, and Mt. Nathali (2,923 m) in the west. Canyons with sheer cliffs and vertical drops are a hallmark of the park. Both Mediterranean and Black Sea flora flourish together in the park along with bears, deer, wolves, foxes and eagles. Special houses on top of wooden stilts are home to the park bees who produce the famous regional honey.

A winding drive midway up a mountainside takes you to Artvin, the capital of the 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 fighting bulls highlights the celebration. The adventurous might like to attempt white water rafting on the wild Coruh River.During the Middle Ages, the Artvin area came under Georgian sovereignty, which makes it conducive for touring 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 at Barhal and Ishan, in the majestic Kackar Mountains. Barhal also offers some of the best country horseback riding. Several other churches in Bagbasi and Camliyamac are just off the road to Erzurum, passing by the Tortum Waterfalls and the pristine Tortum Lake. Other Georgian churches and settlements near Yusufeli are Dortkilise, Koprugoren, and Tekkale. Yusufeli itself boasts wonderful possibilities for nature lovers and hiking at 4000 m. East of Artvin is the former Georgian capital Ardanuc, with its famous castle, which overlooks the longest canyon in the region.

Savsat is 55 km east of Artvin. It is an alpine village surrounded by meadows of wild flowers and butterflies, rushing streams and quaint chalets. The local women's organization has established a training center for weaving in an attempt to keep the indigenous carpet and kilim traditions alive. Karagol-Sahara National Park, 17 km from Savsat on the way to Ardahan, has one of the most beautiful Karagol alpine lakes as well as the widely- known Sahara Plateau. The lake is 45 km northeast of Savsat via Velikoy Village, another typical authentic village. The area around the lake is covered with a variety of pine trees and also has picnic facilities. Wildlife, including bears, is plentiful. The Sahara plateau itself is also covered with beautiful mineral and fresh springs. On the plateau is Kocabey Kislagi Village where you can see traditional wooden houses occupied by friendly residents. Another important plateau and popular summer residence in the region is Bilbilan, whose people are also exceptionally welcoming and helpful. Generally, in all the national parks you can see wonderful examples of birds and butterflies

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