THE UNIFORM ROWS OF TEA, OR ‘ÇAY’ PLANTS, RIPPLE ALONG THE LA N DSCA PE
Still the Black Sea's busiest port, Trabzon has a history best described as changeable. Because of its position on the historic Silk Road, it has been passed from civilisation to civi lisation — including Cimmerians, Byzantines and notably the Ottoman Empire. As a consequence, its religious architecture is eclectic—and all the more interesting for it. Among Trabzon's most celebrated mosques is the Aya Sofya, around two miles from the city centre. It was built between 1238 and 1263, and its design mixes Georgian and Seljuk influences, but you'll find several Constantinople-style wall paintings and mosaics to marvel at inside. Trabzon's real ace card is the Sumela Monastery (above left), a one-hour bus ride away. It perilously hugs a steep cliff within Al ti ndere National Park, overlooking dense evergreen forests and a powerful mountain stream. The monastery reopens nextyear after renovations. Whether you trek all the way from the park's entrance or just from the ticket office car park, the walk there isnot for the faint-hearted. One of many rewards is the monastery's church, formed from a natural caw and filled with someof which date back to the 9th century. Sumela is a vision at any time of year, but with a winter's dose of snow it resembles a still straight out of Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, and is a unique experience.
Aside from being the childhood home ofTurkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the modern city of Rize is actually known for something more earthy: tea. Among its best low-lying attractions is the $eyh Camii mosque and its towering minarets, but an even greater spectacle lies outside the city centre.
Close to the Georgian border to the north, the modest province of A rtvin serves as a perfect base camp for your exploration into the spectacular surrounding mountainous countryside. To the west are the Eastern Kackars (above right), a mountain range ripe forhiking, accessible from the provincial to