Getting to know Trabzon and the black sea region
The Black Sea Coast of Turkey is one of the country’s most beautiful places to visit. It is distinct from the rest of the country because of the densely forested mountains and the sea on one side and villages dotted along its slender shoreline on the other.
It’s little wonder that road excursions along the coast are so popular; this stretch of road is one of the most beautiful in the country.
In addition to the Black Sea beaches and lovely harborside hamlets with remnants of medieval walls, additional sights in the region are worth a visit, including the Sumela Monastery.
For a week’s worth of sightseeing in the east, the tea-producing slopes and alpine pastures are more than plenty.
Sümela Monastery (official name: Monastery of the Virgin Mary) is the most well-known tourist destination on the Black Sea Coast. It appears to sprout out of the sheer rock face that surrounds it.
Athens monks Barnabas and Sophronios, who arrived in the 4th century and built a modest church in Sümela, some 70 kilometers south of Trabzon.
As part of the Turkey-Greece Population Exchange negotiated as part of the Treaty of Lausanne, the monks of Sümela were forcibly expelled in 1923.
Despite the fact that the main chapel’s bright murals are now severely destroyed, the complex’s maze of chambers and chapels gives you an idea of how austere religious life was in previous ages.
Most memorable about a trip here is the winding road up to the entrance, which offers sweeping views of the entire monastery, which clings to the rock face.
The Black Sea and unwind on the sand
There aren’t many summer visitors to the Black Sea, but those that do know how to appreciate a good time.
Compared to popular beach resorts like Antalya and Bodrum, the Black Sea beaches offer a more laid-back alternative to a coast-to-coast road trip.
A peaceful village on Turkey’s western Black Sea coast, Ineada is approximately 15 kilometers south of the Bulgarian border as you go from west to east.
During the summer months, Istanbul and Edirne inhabitants searching for a quick weekend getaway from the city’s sweltering heat flock to the area’s magnificent white-sand beaches.
Trabzon's Hagia Sophia, the Second Hagia Sophia
Bustling The Eastern Pontic Mountains, which extend along the coast, encircle Trabzon, a major port city.
As early as the 8th century BCE, it was established by Greek settlers and quickly became a major commerce route between Persia and the Mediterranean Sea.
The Trabzon Hagia Sophia, a smaller version of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. Emperor Alexius Comnenus most likely constructed Trabzon’s version as soon as he arrived in Trabzon from Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) in 1204, according to legend.
There was a time when the church became a mosque during the Ottoman period; it was afterwards restored into a museum.
In keeping with the cruciform shape of the church, the nave and the aisles are flanked by a transept covered in murals.
A frieze depicting Adam’s narrative in an Eastern-influenced style runs around the bottom of the south entryway. Even though the paintings on the walls have been badly damaged, they are still stunning.
The Uzungöl Alpine Landscape
The alpine panoramas of Uzungöl, a popular day trip from Trabzon, appear like they could have been stolen from central Europe.
One of the most well-known sights in the Black Sea region is this alpine lake and the hamlet that sits on its shores.
There isn’t much to do here other than take in the scenery and unwind at one of the lakefront restaurants and cafés, which fill up quickly on weekends during the summer.
The nicest views of the lake can be had from the village’s highest point. Most Trabzon-based tours that go to Uzungöl include pit stops at these scenic vantage sites along the way.
The distance from Trabzon to Uzungöl is 96 kilometers
Amasra's Historic Harborfront
Amasra’s old town, the Black Sea Coast’s most attractive harbor town, is packed with colorful houses squeezed together on narrow, winding lanes that lead to the water. It’s a photographer’s paradise, with countless opportunities for candid street photography.
In addition to the Byzantine fortress and Amasra’s tiny museum on Dereolu Sokak, there is a lot to see and do.
Sinop's Ottoman-style architecture
Sinop, the most northerly point on Turkey’s Black Sea Coast and its finest protected harbor, is charming and modern.
Antiquity, when it was a bustling commercial center at the northern end of the major caravan routes from Cappadocia and the Euphrates region, made it an important city today.
In addition to the wonderful Ottoman mansions that remain in the town, the old city defenses with their stunning views of the bay are a must for history buffs.
Sakarya Caddesi’s former jailhouse is another a wonderful historical site to visit.
Further historical attractions can be found in the province of Sinop. If you’re planning a road journey along the Black Sea Coast and have an interest in caravanserai design, make a pit stop in Duraan.
The Durak Han, a Seljuk caravanserai constructed by Pervane Süleyman in 1266 and located 112 kilometers south of Sinop, is a small, fairly boring town.
These towers are located at the corners of the fortified structure and are strengthened by additional rectangular towers on the exterior walls. Large summer courtyard encircled by vaulted chambers leads to a three-tiered winter hall within the building.
Rize is a good starting point for exploring the tea-growing region of Turkey.
Everyone who enjoys a cup of tea should make a pilgrimage to Rize, Turkey’s tea-growing capital. Tea plantations surround the modern town, which is surrounded by natural greenery.
Visit the Tea Garden above town, where you may enjoy a cup of tea while taking in the beautiful rolling hills of the surrounding area. The garden’s subtropical flora collection includes a wide variety of tea plants.
Rize Castle (Rize Kalesi), erected by the Genoese in the medieval times, offers even more breathtaking views, as well as a tranquil tea garden.
The eçeva-Haremtepe region, northwest of Istanbul, is home to Turkey’s tea-growing villages. You can enjoy the beautiful, emerald-green scenery by taking a trip across the hill region.
Karaca Cave's Underworld
This cave system is one of the nicest in Turkey and one of the easiest to get to. The cavern system here is 107 meters long and packed with enormous stalagmites and stalactites that have evolved in strange and frightening formations 97 kilometers inland from Trabzon, near the little hamlet of Torul.
Visitors may get up close and personal with the cave’s formations thanks to well-maintained paths and bright illumination.
Also recognized locally for its health benefits, the cave’s oxygen levels are said to be excellent to asthmatics and those with other respiratory ailments.
Bring a sweater even in the midst of summer. The cave grows colder as you go more into it.
Inebolu's Old Town
When it comes to Black Sea road trips, Inebolu is a popular overnight destination thanks to its ancient character.
In the western Black Sea region, between the cities of Amasra and Sinop, a ruined castle, numerous Ottoman wooden homes (many collapsing into disrepair), and numerous attractive vernacular Pontic townhouses with slate-covered roofs can be seen in this port town.
Abonoteichus was the town’s name in antiquity, but it was renamed Ionopolis during the Roman era, and therefore its current name.
The ancient town’s alleyways are the major attraction here, although the nearby coastline provides a few small beaches for those who want to relax in the water.
You can thank Giresun if you’re a cherry lover. Cherry (the Greek word for cherry) is the city’s name, and the Roman general Lucullus brought it back to Rome with him.
Miletus, in the seventh century BC, created Kerasous, which is now the city of Giresun.
If you’re passing through despite its long history, however, you can take in some spectacular views above town from the Byzantine-era castle ruin, and the Giresun Museum on Atatürk Caddesi has an excellent collection of archaeological finds if you’re interested in seeing more than what’s on offer in town.