Amasra ‘The Eye Of The World’
Reputedly, when Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet the Conqueror) conquered Amasra, which is located on the shores of Black Sea, taking it from the hands of the Genoese, he arrived at the spot that is now called Bakacak Hill and asked his lala (educator), “Lala, could this be the Çeşm-i Cihan (eye of the world)?”
We don’t know what his lala’s response was, but we do know that Fatih Sultan praised this lovely coastal city on the Black Sea, Amasra. It is a place where the sea embraces the green. Excitement fills your heart when you arrive at Bartın, the closest town to Amasra, and you can’t wait to get to your final destination.
It is 17 kilometers from Bartın to Amasra
“It is 17 kilometers from Bartın to Amasra,” says the driver. But the road curving among the verdant, picturesque hills seems endless. As you approach the coast, the Kuş Kayası (bird rock) monument comes into view. The monument, four kilometers from Amasra, was built as a resting place along the road during the Roman Empire. The memorial fountain, next to the monument, has been weathered by time and the elements.
Once you climb the hill and turn the last corner, time seems to freeze for a few seconds and you lose yourself in the endless view of the sea. You are jolted back to reality upon entering the city center. Concrete buildings surround you on all sides. But wandering down any of Amasra’s side streets, you can easily escape back to the deep blue sea. If you visit downtown Amasra early in the morning, the cafes at the Küçük Liman, which is one of the two sea inlets to the west, will brew a strong cup of tea for you. Despite the less than dazzling appearance of the cafes, the breakfast of fresh bread, honey, butter, cucumber, tomato, cheese, eggs and tea makes you quickly forget the surroundings.
Amasra is surrounded by low and rather flat-topped hills in the east and west; these hills are increasingly rocky as you approach the shore. Boztepe, Küçüktepe and Çıraköy are the major hills of the city.
Black Sea region
As for weather, Amasra receives rain in all seasons, as is typical for the Black Sea region. The winters are fairly temperate and the summers are comfortably cool. It is normally quite rainy in spring and windy days are common in autumn. So whatever time of year you visit, it is a good idea to bring a coat to keep you warm and dry.
Amasra is also known as the pioneer in Turkey of camping and guesthouses, which first sprung up in the 1940s. The Büyük Liman harbor on the eastern side of Amasra has a public beach where you can enjoy the refreshing waters of the Black Sea during the summer.
Don’t take just a day trip
The artisans of Amasra have been complaining about the crowd and the day trippers visiting the city. Traffic is very congested and it is difficult to find accommodation during July and August.
Coal deposits are the primary source of income for Amasra. Thousands of people earn their living from the mines. Amasra Castle, built during the Roman Empire, was refurbished by the Genoese and the Ottomans and is one of the town’s must-sees. The iç kale (inner castle) area is called the Genoese castle. The Genoese turned the inner castle into a palace and built a main door with a Genoese coat of arms on it that provides passage into the main palace. The door is reached via a winding set of steps.
The Amasra Museum and the Little Church Chapel at the city center and the Bedesten are other places you should visit. The Bedesten, one-and-a-half kilometers from the beach at the south of Amasra, is believed to be a Roman provincial palace. Purportedly, the palace began to be called Bedesten (a market where art objects, jewelry, etc. are sold) after people started to use it as trading center at the beginning of the second century.
Let’s not forget the Fatih Mosque. The mosque, located in Amasra castle, was built as a Byzantine church in the ninth century. It was turned into mosque when Fatih Sultan conquered Amasra in 1460. One of the striking features of the mosque is that the speaker still performs the usual Friday khutba (sermon) with a sword at his waist. The original sword was stolen but officers found a replica and continued the tradition. There is also the Çekiciler bazaar where you can find a variety of souvenirs and handmade products such as woodwork, hand-woven textiles and embroidered canvas.
If you decide to spend the night in Çeşm-i Cihan, after touring the city, you should head to the Küçük Liman to watch the sunset. The sun, disappearing over the waters of the Black Sea, is a sight that will draw you back to this place time and again.