Sumela Monastery, National Parks & Tea Plantations
A wild and contrasting landscape is the series of lush verdant plains, tobacco and tea plantations set among the snow-capped peaks of the Black Sea Region, where the traditional rural village life high up on the surrounding mountain plateaus can be experienced. The coast is dotted with beautiful stony white beaches, abandoned castles and churches, picturesque villages with traditional wooden houses and the surreal cliff-clinging Sumela Monastery.
Main Black Sea Coast Highlights:
One of the most astonishing sights in this region is the Sumela Monastery, a restored 300 meters high cliff-hanging beautiful Byzantine monastery. For centuries the monastery had an icon venerating the ‘Virgin of the Black Rock’ here maintained by Greek monks and making it a place of pilgrimage in the past. The five story facade contains the monks cells, chapel, courtyard and many cave paintings and frescoes. It has stunning views overlooking the green valley, natural forest, streams, flora and fauna below of the Altindere National Park, a perfect place for trekking and walking.
High up on the mountain plateaus or ‘yaylas’ are many traditional mountain plateau villages. Being less frequented by tourists, these local communities still maintain their traditional dressing style and wooden houses, as well as a genuine openness and hospitality towards visitors. They work on the land, and often hold festivals with music and dancing.
For the nature lover, natural scenery and wildlife from deer to wolves make exciting exploring, walking or trekking holidays in this region, in spectacular settings like the Alpine slopes of the Uzungöl Lake, the deciduous forested slopes of the Firtina Valley, or the Zigana and Kaçkar Mountains. Other attractions include the beautiful stalactites, travertines and cave flowers of Karaca Cave in Gumushane, giant cascading waterfalls and small trading towns.
The 2 main coastal cities are Rize, famous for tea produce and Trabzon, boasting some of the most outstanding Byzantine mosaics in its monastic Aya Sofya Church.
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