Sep 16, 2014

Stand out of Sinop's sunlight

Inceburun lighthouse in Sinop,
the furthest northern point in Turkey.

Sunset view from Sinop's fort.

One of the nicest things about being in Sinop was to remember –yet again- how big and diverse this country is. Located on the Mid-Blacksea coast of Turkey, it is as underrated as Denizli and definitely worth a weekend visit. Interestingly, it is the happiest town in Turkey when in world happiness indexes, Turks are close to the gloomy part of the list, (77th among 156 countries). One of the contributing factors to this happiness may well be that they might know how to live with the least number of things available. Indeed, Diogenes who famously lived in a jar was of Sinop (then Sinope). When asked by the Great Alexander what he could do for him, he famously have said: "stand out of my sunlight". 

All sorts of fish are freshly available
at Sinop.

Fjord like Hamsilos bay in Sinop.

Akliman Bay in Sinop.

Another explanation for the happiness may be the fact that it is in the furthest northern part of the country with the highest amount of sun light. Indeed, a visit to the light house in Inceburun -the furthest northern tip- is a must. It is one of the fewest places in the world where the sun goes up from the sea to also set into the sea. The easiest way to do that is to rent a car or drive to Sinop. When you head out of town towards the direction of the airport, İnceburun, Akliman and Hamsilos are all in the same direction. Hamsilos with its fjord like shape may also serve as the entry point into a hiking trail that is full of endemic birds. Indeed, natural tourism may easily grow in the area given the waterfalls in Erfelek; lake in Ayancik; natural park at Hamsilos and otters under threat of extinction in the area. There are already tour companies that offer it.

Meydankapi mosaics at Sinop archeological museum.

Another view from the mosaics at museum
of archeology in Sinop.
The Fountain of Martyrs at Yalı Kahvesi, Sinop.

The sea, fish and everyhting sea related is in the soul of Sinop. When the fishing prohibition is lifted as of 1 September, fish shops are full, for affordable prices. And restaurants know how to cook it. Fishermen sit around in Meydan Mahallesi and sometimes at Yalı Kahvesi. The latter is a place for everyone to sip tea or coffee and maybe eat a toast. Its humble ways should not fool you as a fountain nearby attests to its historical significance. Indeed, being the shipyard town and port for the Ottoman Navy came at a price for Sinop. When the Ottomans were "the sick man of Europe", the Russians raided the town in 1853 -known as the Battle of Sinop -as part of the Crimean War. Today, the monument for the fallen soldiers is located in the museum of archeology but at Yalı Kahvesi, the re is a fountain commemorating the event. The Fountain of the Martyrs was built with the moneys left in the pockets of the fallen soldiers. Apparently, the Pasha bastions -first built  in the 15th century- were also not much of help given the denseness of the fog. Today, the bastions are decorated with canons and there is constant sound of shelling in the background that makes it all the more real to imagine. 

Monument for the fallen soldiers
 of Sinop Raid of 1853.

Pasha Bastions in Sinop were first built in 15th century.

Street view from few old houses in Sinop.
If you go to Sinop in the summer, the beaches at Akliman, Karaliman and in the city are clean and thus of the few places in Blacksea coast that is so. Another sea related thing in the city is boat modelling which was initiated by two former inmates that were released from the Sinop Prison. Today, there are many shops but Ayhan Kotra seems to have started it. The other shops are all next to his at Iskele Caddesi. Sinop Prison (Cezaevi) is located next to the fortress by the Blacksea and many political and literary figures in Turkey served time here. Given that location, noone has been able to escape it and many movies have been shot in its alleys and corridors. The prison was closed down in 1999 and serves today as a museum. 

A view from the Sinop Prison (museum) today.

The shape of Sinop is like a peninsula but the locals call it an island. If you have a car, driving it all the way will take you to the other side of the city, amid stunning scenery. Along the way, visit Pasha Bastions and drive up to Boztepe where at low visibility, there is a fog horn that warns seafarers. The sea really is the soul of this city. But you can still indulge in meat and Turkish ravioli at Teyze'nin Yeri.

A view from Ayhan Kotra boat modelling shop.