RECENTLY RATED TURKEY'S HAPPIEST CITY IN A SURVEY BY THE TURKISH STATISTICAL INSTITUTE, SINOP IS POISED TO BECOME THE NEW STAR OF TOURISM WITH ITS UNTOUCHED NATURAL BEAUTY, PRISTINE BEACHES, UNIQUE CUISINE AND CULTURAL COMPLEXES THAT ARE GETTING A NEW FACE.
We are here in the peaceful atmosphere of Sinop, reminiscent at first glance of a quiet fishing town. The scenes at the harbor blot out our weariness. Colorful boats bobbing at the pier, fishermen's placid faces, cavorting gulls and the constant beat of the waves seem to say, "Welcome to Sinop".
THE ALCATRAZ OF ANATOLIA
From the tea gardens along the quay into the back streets, curiosity is drawing more tourists to Sinop by the day. Even though some 800,000 tourists a year visit Sinop, the natives think it is even more worth seeing. Sinop Castle and the historic Sinop Prison and Icehouse are among this peaceful town's must-see sights. A major port throughout its history thanks to its strategic location, Sinop is eager to shake off its dust and recapture its former splendor. Indeed, efforts are already under way to make that dream a reality. Following lengthy negotiations, Sinop Castle is now a candidate for Turkey's Unesco World Heritage list as part of the Genoese trade Route. The latest plan is to transform the area around the castle into a culture and tourism complex along the lines of the notorious Alcatraz Island off the coast of San Francisco. Art galleries, artisans’ workshops and workers’ dormitories will be created in various sections of the castle, and the prison will shed the evil traces of its past and be converted into a museum of justice as part of Sinop's makeover.
NEW TREASURE: BALATLAR
Part of the international cruise network, Sinop has been designated by the tourism authorities as the safest haven among all the countries bordering the Black Sea. Another key venue shaping Sinop’s new touristic vision is the Balatlar Faith Complex. We tour this historic site overlooking the city from the quarter of Ada with Prof. Gülgün Köroğlu. This approximately 10,000 square meter ruin was used continuously as a faith, sports and health center between the 2nd and 20th centuries. According to Köroğlu, the Black Sea’s oldest known Roman bath was here. Silver plagues, heads of statues, mosaic fragments and priests’ robes from the Roman era have come to light so far at Balatlar, where the excavation is ongoing by a 60-member team.
Sinop had a vibrant cultural life since the ancient times. Being one of the significant bases of Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman periods, Sinop is also rich in Islamic architecture. Alaaddin Mosque, a Seljuk monument, exhibits a rare style with its magnificent marble mihrab and its minaret atop the wall encircling the courtyard. Pervane Madrasa directly opposite is now a market where local textiles are sold.
May is considered the beginning of beach holidays in Turkey. We may talk about a long time beach season from may to october especially in the Mediterranean and Southern Aegean seas. It lasts from june to september for Black Sea, the Marmara and North Aegean seas. And now for Sinop’s legendary beaches… Hamsilos, with shores reminiscent of the Scandinavian fjords, Akliman with its choppy waters, Kumkapı with its castle view and the famous black sand Karakum, or Antik Beach at Gelincik - the choice is yours. The city’s immediate vicinity harbors astonishing natural beauty. Wild horses roaming the peninsula’s beech forests and sugar-white dunes rolling down to whitecap waves, to mention just two. What’s more, as well as feasting your eyes on oleander and lilies, you can observe upwards of 200 species of birds around Sarıkum, a lagoon linked to the sea. Another of Sinop’s most exciting places to explore is İnceburun Lighthouse, Turkey’s northernmost. The pastoral landscapes on the last five kilometers to the lighthouse, just 22 kilometers from the city center, are well worth seeing. Lonely hills enclosed by picket fences, flocks of sheep, basalt cliffs washed by rough waves and, over it all, a profound stillness… Sinop awaits you to come and savor the pleasure of the moment.
Sinop’s famous mantı (ravioli) is colorfully known as “ear dough”. Slightly yellowish in color because it is made with eggs, this meat-filled pasta is served topped with yoghurt, walnuts and melted butter. The local meat or walnut-raisin pastries, called “nokul”, are delicious, too. Once you've come to the Black Sea, it wouldn't be right to return without tasting the succalent fresh fish, the pickled bonito, the sauteed green bean pickles and the "Revani" cake.
You can pick up hand-carved model wooden boats in Sinop. Doğan Ülgen, the second generation of the Ülgen family which has been plying this trade in Sinop for 60 years, has been included on Unesco’s list of bearers of intangible cultural heritage. Forty years in the profession, the master artisan calls his painstakingly crafted model tugboats, galleons, fishing boats, rowboats and sailboats “ships with stories”.
Sinop Black Sea Sailing Club offers courses for young people as well as adults. The club’s experienced sailing teacher, Özden Saral, says that the wind at Sinop is ideal for sailing and that he has trained many sportsmen who have placed in the city’s international races.
Sights worth seeing in Sinop: At the center, the Archaeology Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Antik Hotel Museum, Rıza Nur Library, Troubadours’ Way, and the Diogenes Sculpture. In the vicinity, İnaltı Cave, Erfelek Falls, and Ayancık Akgöl lake and highland.
Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Sinop-Istanbul flights daily. Departure times on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays are 9:30 a.m. from Istanbul and 11:30 a.m. from Sinop. Departure times on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are 2:30 p.m. from Istanbul and 4:30 p.m. from Sinop. Sinop Airport is just six kilometers from the city center. For information: www.turkishairlines.com