5 Cities to Visit Along the Black Sea
Black Sea Cities:
Ünye, Giresun, Tirebolu, Trabzon, Rize
My husband and I decided to take a road-trip from Antalya to the Black Sea region of Turkey. We found that Turkey has something unique within each province and well worth the experience and trip. While traveling, we discovered several remarkable seaside villages along the Black Sea that we suggest you check out.
Ünye is located in Ordu Province and has a small port, considered one of the Black Sea coast’s flatter regions. Known for its agriculture in hazelnut, several processing plants are in Ünye.
Several universities and trade schools are scattered throughout the village, making it a popular hang out for young people. The popular cuisine is pide. With many quiet spots for a picnic along the seashore, this is a lovely excursion town to visit.
Things to see in Ünye:
The Church of Ayanikola: Although there are hardly any remains of this church are located on the peninsula in the Atatürk neighborhood, it is a great stop to visit and explore the beautiful coastal area with many seashells lying on the beach. During the Byzantine Greek period of the 1700s, this church was built to provide a religious sanctuary for its fishermen.
Historical Mansions: There are 76 immovable cultural assets in Ünye registered officially by the Supreme Council of Monuments. Fifty-six of them are historical houses. There is a furnace in every home and a bath in each of the rooms. Hüsrev Yurur Mansion was built in 1915 by a Russian architect for Prince Ahmet Bey, an example of Turkey’s housing westernization period.
Turkish Bathhouse: The Turkish hammams culture is very significant in Ünye. There are three out of seven Turkish baths still standing. One of these three Turkish baths, Saray Bath, is located within the palace area, known to have been built for Suleyman Pasha’s daughter.
Yali Church, built in the second half of the 19th century by the Greeks living in the region for worship. The municipality used it as a wedding hall and warehouse until recently. In 2010, it was transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism by Ünye Municipality for ten years.
Saray Mosque: One of the oldest historical mosques in the Black Sea region. Built-in 1712 by Captain Kondoroğlu Hacı Ahmet. For a period in the early 1900s, it was a women’s prison. The local government started restoring the mosque in 2007. During the restoration, 13 tombs of Kondoroğlu Ahmet and his family were discovered.
Kadi Slope: During the Ottoman Empire, judges (Kadi or Qadi) were brought to Ünye for training. Their heirs then settled in the area and built beautiful mansions with detailed stonework on this slope of the land, becoming known as Kadi Slope. The remains of the entrance gates illustrate the craftsmanship. Many famous Qadi and the Poet Omer Bedretin Usaki lived in these mansions.
Giresun’s history goes back to the 6th century BC, founded by Greek colonists. This region has rich agriculture of hazelnuts, walnuts, cherries, as well as leather and timber. Giresun has a well-established port that has been essential in their economy. Due to the amount of rain this area receives, the mountainsides are lush in flora.
Before entering Giresun, we came upon this elaborate mosque in Bulancak called Sarayburnu Mosque. The mosque took 29 years to complete using the Kundekari technique, which interlocks small wooden pieces cut in geometric shapes to form a large surface. Many Muslims and non-Muslims travel to visit this unique and beautiful mosque.
Giresun Museum: Built as a Greek Orthodox Church in the mid-18th century and was used as a church until 1923. In the museum, works belonging to the Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman periods and regional ethnographic materials are exhibited. Visiting hours: 8:00 am – 17:00 on all days of the week.
Virgin Mary Monastery was built into a cave in the Pontic Mountains. The Virgin Mary Monastery dates back to the Byzantine period. Although this monastery holds much history, the site needs serious restoration work.
Other sites to consider in Giresun is Giresun Castle and Kuzalan Waterfall.
A small town located on the hill of Ayana is the village of Tirebolu. Here you will find a small harbor and fishing fleet. The economy is based around the production of hazelnuts. During the Trapezuntine period (13th century), the Chepni people settled in Tirebolu.
Tirebolu Castle sits on a small peninsula extending towards the sea. It is believed to have been built in the 15th century BC. Free to visit.
Trabzon is located on the Silk Road and became a mix of religions, languages, and culture for centuries while being the trading gateway to Persia. Before the city was founded as a Greek colony, it was occupied by Caucasian and Anatolian tribes. Trabzon Province is located through a pass in the Pontic Mountains.
In the 1920s, the British considered Trabzon one of the most critical Turkish Black Sea ports. With the mountains rich in minerals such as copper, silver, zinc, iron, and manganese, Trabzon became a valuable raw material exporter.
Things To See in Trabzon:
Hagia Sophia is a formerly known Greek Orthodox church that was converted into a mosque in 1584. It was converted into a museum in 1964 and back into a mosque in 2013. It dates back to the thirteenth century when Trabzon was the capital of the Empire of Trebizond.
Known as the Trabzon Castle are the Walls of Trabzon, a series of defensive walls surrounding the old town and never functioned as a castle but as defense walls during battle.
Trabzon Botanical Gardens
Located in the center of the city is Trabzon Meydan Park. Near the park are great places to shop, restaurants, and coffee houses. Local events, farmers’ markets, and special ceremonies occur throughout the week. Locals take advantage of the recreational green space, which offers places to socialize.
Near Trabzon Meydan Park is Bedesten, which is a large bazaar. Interesting place to check out, but I wouldn’t recommend buying unless you speak fluent Turkish.
A long hike up a steep hill is Girls Monastery. Built during the Empire of Trebizond was a female monastery that overlooks the city. Although the monastery was closed, within the church are inscriptions and portraits of Alexios III, his wife, and his mother, Irene.
One of our favorite visits was the Ataturk Pavilion located in the Soğuksu hills, about 7 km outside the city. It was built by Konstantin Kabayanidis, a Greek architect, in 1903, with a Western Renaissance influence. During 1916-917, when Russia occupied the region, it served as their headquarters. Ataturk reclaimed this region back from Russia and visited Trabzon on his country trip called the Autumn Trip. During his visit, his wife and a few of his close friends all stayed in the mansion. The home was later turned into a museum, showcasing pictures of Ataturk, china, and other trinkets of the 1920s period that he left behind. The museum is a celebration of his visit to Trabzon. The gardens that surround the mansion are exquisite with roses, hydrangea, and many other flowers. Visiting hours: 7 days a week from 8:00 – 19:00. The cost is 10TL per person
Trabzon Botanical Gardens
Following our visit to Ataturk Pavilion, we stopped to take a break at the Trabzon Botanik Parki. The quiet and lovely landscape park with water fountains and walking paths made it a pleasant place to relax from all the sightseeing.
Rize is a worthwhile destination to visit with its lush green plateaus, pristine rivers, and numerous tea plantations. My desire to visit Rize was to explore the tea plantations and to understand the importance of the tea industry. In addition to the tea plantations, our visit also included exploring the Rize Castle, Ziraat Botanik Tea Garden, and wandering the city center streets.
Since Rize is a culinary paradise, indulge your taste buds by sampling delicious foods such as piyaz, dolma, and bulgur. As tea is a popular drink in the area, you are treated to sights of numerous tea plantations. Most residents prefer tea over coffee or beer.
Things to See in Rize:
Rize Museum is in the heart of Rize and only a stone’s throw away from the city square. It’s a nicely designed museum with artifacts from historical places, including clothing, furniture, and sculptures.
Since you are in Turkey’s tea region, it is only natural to visit Ziraat Botanik Tea Garden. The establishment is nestled up on a hill, so you enjoy the surrounding mountains and villages’ stunning views. Sit under a tree on the balcony overlooking the hills and sip on a fresh cup of tea!
Rize Tea Garden
Nestled atop a hill is the Rize Castle, dating back to the 13th century. It sits on an elevated level, and you can enjoy breathtaking views of Rize and the surrounding scenery as well as capture a perfect picture of the town below. Within the castle grounds, you will also have a chance to eat lunch or drink tea in the café.
Before modern transportation was invented, bridges were crucial for providing a means for those to move across land. Within Rize are 123 stone arch bridges that have been there for centuries. One of the most famous bridges is the Timisvat Bridge, built in the 18th century, known along the route extending from Firtina Creek flowing into the Black Sea to Ayder Plateau, providing transportation between villages.
Rize Tea Fields
The Black Sea region of Turkey has not received the credit it deserves. The lush green landscape, delicious cuisine, and colorful culture will genuinely surprise you. Whether you go on a tour or drive, you will surely not be disappointed in the beauty of Turkey.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.
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Inshallah (God Willing)!