Travel tips for Turkey:
What to see?
Here's a recapitulation of highlights, ordered according to the Editor's
CHURCHES AND MONASTERIES
Taking into account architectural value, setting and level of preservation:
Sumela Monastery (14th century) is the undisputed leader of the pack.
The Georgian Churches of Artvin (9th to 11 th centuries) rank number 2 thru 11.
Barhal, Khan and Öşk-vank top the list. The Hagia Sophia of Trabzon (13th cen
tury) has a a fantastic collection of Byzantine painting.
The Chrysocephalos and St.Eugene churches in Trabzon (13th-14th centuries), both
functioning as mosques, are fine Byzantine monuments.
The "Meryemana" Cave Monastery near Şebinkarahisar is an undiscovered wonder.
Several late churches in the vicinity deserve visits.
Vazelon, Kaymaklı and to a lesser extent Peristera Monasteries amply justify the
difficult task of getting there.
The Dirlikkoy churches near Surmene are quite impressive 19th century works.
With the exception of Sinop, the coast is rather poor in Turkish monuments of
histor¬ical value. Kastamonu, Şebinkarahisar and Bayburt, in the hinterland,
have excel¬lent examples of pre-Ottoman mosque architecture.
The Kasaba Mosque near Kastamonu is unique gem built of wood. Delightful wooden
mosques abound in the villages of Artvin, notably in Demirkent and the district
The Gulbahar Mosque in Trabzon (16th century) is an Ottoman classic.
FORTRESSES AND CASTLES
Zilkale and Şebinkarahisar get the top rat¬ing for setting and panorama; Bayburt
for imposing appearance; Amasra for pictures¬queness. Ardanuç, Bedrama and
Kastamonu are close trailers.
Three different traditional styles are dis¬played at Safranbolu, Akçaabat and
the villages of the
Şavşat-Meydancık district. The Haznedaroglu Castle in
Bolaman and the Yakupoglu Castle in Surmene do not compare with their European
counterparts but they deserve inspection.
The Atatürk Mansion in Trabzon is a period gem.
VALLEYS AND MOUNTAINS
They constitute the main reason why anyone should go to the Black Sea region. (Çamlıhemşin
is the ultimate in this field. But don't go there if you are not relaxed about
Uzungol and Barhal offer "Black Sea style" and "Artvin style" natural beauty,
respectively. They require at least one day each.
For a quick drive-in, drive-out, a
Sumela-Zigana trip will do fine.
For the ultimate panoramic drives, try the Yalnızçam crossings (Ardanuç-Ardahan
or Şavlat-Ardahan). The Of-Bayburt road is NOT for the faint-of-heart.
If you get addicted to Black Sea valleys and want more, choose from this list:
Meydancik, Ardanuç-Ayınkoy, Ardanuç-Geçitli, Borçka-Camili, Arhavi-Ortacalar,
Surmene-Koprubasi, Vakfıkebir-Tonya, Tir¬ebolu-Harşit, Espiye-Yaglidere, Ordu
Kadirga (above Tonya) and Kafkasör (above Artvin) lead the lists for color and
excitement. Aksu (at Giresun Island) fasci¬nates with its unusual folk
traditions. "Var¬tavar" festivities take place in the highlands of (Çamlihemşin
late June thru late August. Here's a list of (approximate) dates.
Hidrellez "First day of summer" fes¬tivities throughout the region.
Aksu Festival at Giresun. Late May-early June
Yayla migration and festivals through¬out the region.
June, third weekend
Kafkasor festivities at Artvin. June 23
Sultan Murat Martyrs Day above Surmene.
June 23, 25, 27, 29
Sea festivities along the Trabzon coast. July, third weekend
Kadirga festivities above Tonya/Maçka. Hidirnebi festivities above Akçaabat/
Sisdagi festivities above Şalpazari/ Gorele.
July, fourth weekend
Pancarci festivities at Şavsat. August 14-15
Midsummer festivities at Çaykara, Akçaabat, Tonya.
Beypinari festivities at Tonya. September 5
Sivritepe festivities at Tonya.
The best are held weekly in the towns of Trab zon and Rize provinces. Days as
follows: Monday: Vakfikebir Rize.
Tuesday: Akçaabat, (Çaykara, Sürmene. Wednesday: Tonya, (Çayeli. Thursday:
Maçka, Arakli, Arsin, Of. Friday: Koprubaşı Rize.
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