The Little Port Town, unspoiled Museum
If you are sailing the Black Sea on a cruise, one of your unique ports of call might be the tiny port town of Amasra in the province of Bartin,Turkey. It’s a small (population less than seven thousand) but very old settlement which today thrives on tourism. What to expect there? Here are a few pointers:
~ The town is situated on a promontory which juts out into the Black Sea so it sports two coves and is popular for its beaches.
~ There are two islands: Great Island ( connected to the mainland by an old Roman bridge) and Rabbit Island (a colony of black and white rabbits live there), the latter of which is a popular visit for tourists.
~ It may be cooler than you might anticipate in the shoulder and off seasons. So if you are visiting there on a land vacation or cruise, be sure to bring a jacket or sweater, unless it is summer.
~ The water temperature of the Black Sea is not comparable to the Adriatic or Mediterranean. It is chillier but visitors do enjoy the waters and the pebbled beaches.
~ Though tourism is one of its mainstays, compared to most resort destinations, the place will never be crowded. It is a little remote by road, and travel by land is less than quick or easy (bus or rental car – six or more hours from Istanbul).
~ Because of the small amount of vacationers, this town has been kept relatively unspoiled, and quaint.
~ It follows that you may find, depending on your point of view, that the usual tourist attractions of interest are either basic (see museum) or unimproved( see castle) – or the aforementioned unspoiled and quaint. Be positive!
~ If exploring the town on your own, note that English is not commonly spoken or understood. Be inventive, or carry a phrase book.
~ There is a bazaar and many touristy shops featuring local handcrafted items. Be sure to bargain.
~ Sights to see:
Amasra Castle: Built during Roman times, it reflects walls built later by the Byzantines and later still, the Genoese. The latter also erected defensive gates in medieval times. These days, with the castle in relative ruins and the town built within and around it, be sure to have a guide if you wish to distinguish its historical features. The Dereagzu Tunnel beneath the structure leads to a fresh water pool. The view from the castle is quite lovely, as it is from most of the town.
Church/mosque: This was built by the Byzantines in the 800’s. It was originally built as a church but converted to a mosque in the 15th century. There is still a small chapel but the mosque is closed to prayer.
Bird’s Rock Road Monument: This monument was built in the first century AD by order of Gaius Julius Aquila and is a short journey outside Amasra. It was meant as a resting place for travellers in Roman times.
Amasra Museum: This is a very small museum of four exhibit rooms and a courtyard. Despite its size, it has an enjoyable collection of artifacts found in and around the Amasra area, and from archaeological digs. Look for tombstones from the Ottoman period and a piece of torso armour depicting the founding of Rome.
It is the smaller luxury cruise lines such as Azamara and Windstar where you will find Amasra on the itinerary. Inquire of your travel professional what is available that includes this tiny port gem of the Black Sea where walking through the town, you are walking through history.