THE UNI­FORM ROWS OF TEA, OR ‘ÇAY’ PLANTS, RIP­PLE ALONG THE LA N DSCA PE

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Easy Trips -

Trab­zon

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.

Rize

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.

Artvin

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

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