*The featured pic: The view of Uzungöl (photo by İhsan Deniz Kılıçoğlu)
Uzungöl, or Şeraho in the local Rumeyka language (Pontic Greek), is a picturesque lake nestled between the green high mountains of the Black sea province of Trabzon.
This natural landmark was formed millions of years ago on account of a landslide which resulted in the stream bed turning into a natural dam.
Uzungöl is famous for its ineffable nature which boasts one of the richest and most diverse flora and faunas in Turkey. The mountains surrounding the lake are covered with dense woods and thick vegetation where 250 species of birds call home. Moreover, since Uzungöl was declared a natural park, there has been more than 650 types of plants discovered in the area. Bears, wolves, wild goats, foxes, Caucasian capercaillie are some of the 90 types of animals that live in Uzungöl.
In the past years, due to the tourism boom in Uzungöl, dozens of restaurants and hotels have opened in the region. In addition, as a result of the increasing numbers of visitors, transportation from central Trabzon to Uzungöl was improved by increasing the daily number of busses going back and forth.
From Trabzon to Uzungöl, it takes around 1.5 hours (97 km).
The daily bus schedule between Trabzon and Uzungöl is as it follows.
- From Trabzon to Uzungöl: 7.15am – 9.45am – 12pm – 2.15pm – 6pm
- From Uzungöl to Trabzon: 7am – 9.30am – 12pm – 2.15pm – 4.45pm
*Some unannounced changed might occur on the bus schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For most up-to-date information, you can go to the website of the bus company Çaykara Tur.
Sümela Monastery (Panagia Sumela in Greek) is a 1600-year-old Orthodox mountaintop monastery, built on the side of Karadağ Mountain, which is located in the Altındağ Valley of Trabzon’s Maçka district.
Currently included in UNESCO’s Tentative List of World Heritage Sites in Turkey, this religious complex is presumed to have been built in the 4th century AD during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I, by two priests named Barnabas and Sophronios who were natives to Athens, Greece.
Today, Sümela monastery is, perhaps, the most popular tourist attraction in Turkey’s Black Sea region. And with its amazingly well-preserved artistic frescoes and stunning architectural features and location, this magical site is deserving of its admiration.
Sümela Monastery is spread over a large area and consists of church buildings, chapels, rooms where once the monks lived, bathrooms, libraries that once hosted valuable ancient manuscripts, food cellars, a kitchen, and a section that was a natural spring with healing properties.
Sümela Monastery can be visited from 9am to 6.30pm in the summer period (15 March-15 October), and from 10am to 4pm in winters (15 October-15 March). The monastery is closed on weekends. The entrance fee to the monastery is 50₺. In addition, you will be required to pay a fee of 10₺ to enter Altındağ National Park. The total fee of 60₺ equals to $8 or € 6.40 (January 2021 exchange rates).
If you are going to go to the monastery using public transportation, you can take minibuses from Trabzon to the district of Maçka, and then from there, you can hop onto another minibus to the monastery. Note that from Maçka to the monastery, it takes approximately 40 minutes. However, the scenery along the way is so amazing that you will be absorbed by its beauty and the 40 minutes will pass as quickly as an eye blink.
Yason Church (also known as Jason Church), is located on the peninsula of Yason Cape in the province of Ordu. Built in 1868 by mostly the Georgian residents and a small group of Greeks, this church is an important Christian site. Today this structure stands intact with the walls of the church yard, ruins of the ancient port and the fishing ponds remaining from the past centuries.
The name of the church and the peninsula was given after the mythological Greek hero, Jason. Even prior to the foundation of this church, Yason Cape was a sacred site for the Christians who were living in the area. As the historical account suggests, in the 3rd century, the Christians used to come to Cape Yason to attend the Festival of Lights after celebrating the birth of the Christ in Karesus (modern-day Turkish province of Giresun located to the east of Ordu).
Yason Church does not have regulated visiting hours. However, the safest option would be to visit this spot within the visiting hours of the other ancient sites in Turkey, which is from 10am to 5pm.
4-Town of Amasra
It is almost indisputable that Amasra is the most touristic and characteristic town of the Black Sea region. This small port town, which stands out with its beautiful pebble beaches, natural settings, amazing fish restaurants, authentic streets and ancient ruins.
Amasra’s history is one of the most diverse and rich ones among the towns in Turkey. The earliest time that Amasra was mentioned in history was by Homer, who spoke of this settlement as a small village. Unlike many towns in Turkey, Amasra was never deserted and it has been inhabited continuously since the day the first settlers came to this town. Apart from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, various small short-lived medieval Greek kingdoms and Ottomans ruled the town in the past years. There was even a time in which Amasra had served as a trade colony of the Republic of Genoa which was an influential Italian city-state.
Here are the notable must-see sites in Amasra:
A day is more than enough to cover the attractions here and witness the beauties of this town.
For a small town, Amasra has a very developed and high-class food culture. From street food stalls selling fries, roasted chestnuts and corn, to high-end fish restaurants, you will find plenty of options in Amasra. It is a must-do thing in this area to have some fresh fish at one of the restaurants with wooden terraces that are built on the sea. This small town is one of the good spots in Turkey where you can experience the traditional Turkish seafood culture.
Located in the central Black sea city of Sinop, İnceburun peninsula is the northernmost part of Turkey. This picturesque spot contains a big lighthouse that has been serving as a guide since 1863 to the ships passing by.
It is assumed that the lava landscape of İnceburun was formed in The Cretaceous period, which makes them 66 to 145 million years old.
Visitors are allowed to see the lighthouse, however going up to the tower is not allowed.
Santa Ruins is a spectacular ancient site in the province of Gümüşhane. Founded as a medieval mining town in around the 1500s, Santa was a very prosperous settlement and it played a very important role in the mining industry of the region.
When the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II annexed the Black sea coasts in 1471, he decreed that Santa would stay a mining town. With the Population Exchange Agreement that was signed between Turkey and Greece in 1923, the residents of Santa which solely consisted of Orthodox Greeks were deported to Greece, and since then Santa has been deserted.
The area includes hundreds of dilapidated structures and almost a dozen churches remaining from the previous centuries. Even though Santa Ruins is a mind-blowing spot, it is quite devoid of visitors which allows you to calmly and comfortably walk along the roads that the old Greek residents did decades ago.