No matter how many times you visit this region, you experience the same enthusiasm and excitement you had in the first one, as every route and every valley are contesting for perplexing you
It’s the very moment I had been looking forward to for months, and we eventually arrived in Trabzon, the coordinating point of out trip. Our team was of 12 members, yet just three of us had visited Black Sea Region, and particularly Kaçkar Mountains and Fırtına Valley. No matter how many times you visit this region, you experience the same enthusiasm and excitement you had in the first one, as every route and every valley are contesting for perplexing you.
Since some of us came by aeroplane and some via highways, the minibus that was going to take us throughout the whole trip was waiting for us at Trabzon Airport. Captain Ahmet met us and extended a warm welcome to which I am acquainted to rush in on Kaçkar Mountains plateaus but yet to see in city life. On close 11 am, we made track for Fırtına Valley. While those visiting hereabouts beforehand were telling what they saw and got, the rest were listening with all their ears in excitement. Upon moving on Pazar, a district in Rize, Fırtına Brook, called with the same name with Fırtına Valley, welcomed us. On the condition that you got sick of classical holidays or you are of a holiday mindset remote to holiday resort, every valley in Eastern Black Sea seems to be enchanting and fascinating (particularly Fırtına).
Fırtına Brook, that was going to accompany us throughout the whole excursion, was running in ever magnificence despite global warming and dam, planned to be erected on it. Photographing the historical bridges and mansion houses, just before coming to the guesthouse where we would stay, we pop in Zilkale en route which impressed everyone.
Zilkale, on the southern part of Çamlıhemsin, a district of Rize, in 12 km distance, hosts a gate on Fırtına Valley and it is located on a high hill (which is 100 metre higher from water course and 750 metre from the sea level). There stands a castle with eight towers and watchtower, from which it is possible to descend to Zil Brook through stairs which is a defending ditch as well, yet the precise construction date is unknown. It is one of the most standing out Works in the region, it is considered that there was once a secret gate between the brook and castle but earthed in time. The castle erected on a natural rock is composed of external, internal walls and a keep. There lies a path in northwest direction on the gate of External Castle. Climbing to the level of middle walls, it is possible to enter to the castle through a second gate. There are three buildings in Middle Castle, which are the chapel, guardian building and arch tower. It is not known when the castle was erected, yet it is assumed to be in 14th or 15th centuries. It is considered that Kale-i Bala, Zilkale, Cihar Kale policed not only the region but also a significant medieval caravansary route to East. Conquering the region, the Otoman continued to employ the castle.
Evening at Cancık Guesthouse
The darkness had seized the skies as we got to our guesthouse by the brook, en route to Çat. On seeing the Cancık Guesthouse, I wailed for not staying here when I came to this region before. Cancık Guesthouse, run by Rasim Bey,
his son and bride as well, is of 30-40 person capacity and it is quite comfortable place where you can spend the night in bungalow and tree houses. As for the dishes, they are very delicious. In our first evening, they laid a splendid and brilliant table of soup, roasted meat, wheat pilaf and salad. Having had the supper, we all had exhaustion and fatigue, but we could not help bearing Tahsin, the son of Rasim Bey, company while playing bagpipe. The lyrics “…everybody has woes deep inside…” made us all feel sorry, yet the energetic Black Sea region traditional songs cheered up tight then. the lower slopes of Verçenik Mountain about one hour remote to our guesthouse. Leaving the minibus in front of Captain Ahmet’s mother’s house at plateau, we trotted of the plateau under the guidance of Ahmet singing sometimes folk-songs or quadrants called as “mani”. “Yaylanın pınarı olayım Akayım oluk oluk Gelip geçen güzeller İçsinler soğuk soğuk” (Let me be the fountain of plateau and run in stream, So that the pretty lasses drink and the cool in dream) Verneçik region is one the places I have not been before. I noticed en route the excursion that this region was so virgin, untouched and unharmed by human beings. On arriving at Kapılı Göller (Lakes with Gates) on the lower slopes of Verçenik Mountain with 3000 metrealtitude, walking about a couple of hours along the brook getting larger and larger by merging with the other branches until flowing to Fırtına Brook, everybody was perplexed on seeing this natural magnificence. Getting the water from the fountains in which we could not hold our hands till filling our flasks up, we enjoyed our provisions before the unique scene of glacier lakes. Having the assessment of the day, we even started to talk about the route of the following day.
Keeping the early hours and the first brilliant rays of sun, we got to Elevit Plateau following one and a half hour-trip. Elevit, a lesser district of Çamlıhemsin, is a place at 1800 metre altitude where you can see typical plateau houses. A label on which it writes “Altitude: 1800 Population: Vague” welcomed us at the entrance of the plateau. As in most Eastern Black Sea Region Plateaus, previous local residents who moved to bigger cities visit Elevit in summer months.
Amlakit from Trovit and Palovit
When it stroke noon time, we got to Palovit Plateau passing through Trovit Plateau (2350 metre). Palovit Plateau,
a transition plateau, is an essential one where husbandry is still currently kept. On setting forth to Amlakit Plateau after leaving the vehicle, the fog was descending. Following two-hour walking, we got to Amlakit, where we pitched our tents up and spent the night with the villagers conversing.
Following the breakfast in the morning, we made track for walking towards Hazindak Plateau. The path between Amlakit and Hazindak is worth to see. So beautiful that it is possible to discover a new beauty by pace for pace. In spite of the fact that 9 nine years has elapsed since I last saw this route, rediscovering the same beauties as they are made me feel jollier. Hazindak Plateau is 1900 metre high from sea level and a perfect camping site before Pokut Plateau. Provided that the fog lets, the landscape is perfect. Covered by the fog in five-minute time, we placed our cameras back. In the evening, we had our supper with the corn
bread offered by the plateau residents.
When we set forth to Pokut Plateauafter removing our camp, there was notrace of fog descended yesterday. We met Captain Ahmet following two and ahalf-hour walking when we got to Pokut.Pout, 2000 metre high from sea level,bear wooded vegetation compared toother plateaus. In terms of landscape, ofthe whole plateaus, Pokut is the best one.From a certain distance, the houses seemto be like a necklace, and it makes tricksby appearing and disappearing during thewalk, furthermore, its panorama is worthto see on plateau. There is no husbandryin Pokut Plateau, where mostly housesused for holidays in summer months arelocated. Moreover, there are some guesthouses where the travellers can stay.
Sal Plateau and Çinçiva
On arriving at neighbouring Sal Plateau following fifteen minute-walking we encountered a jolly occasion. Plateau residents were setting off their relatives back home and playing bagpipes and singing. As the water resources are at low levels on this plateau, the residents have water shortage; the whole houses are wooden and it is possible to see the
highest peaks of Kaçkar Mountains on climbing a hill over these houses. It was about evening when we got to Çinçiva (Village Şenyuva with its new name) from Sal Plateau in two and a half hours. On setting forth from Çinçiva famous for its humpback bridge constructed by the Ottoman in 1670, we all had a pretty fatigue. Uncle Idris, the owner of Doğa Hotel alongside Fırtına Brook on the 5th km to Çamlıhemsin, welcomed us at the entrance of the hotel. Following the supper, we slept listening to unique melodies of Fırtına Brook. The next day, we ranked off listening to the local quadrates (mani) of Captain Ahmet. “Elevit’in deresi
İki taraftan akar Yüreğim seninledir Gözüm ellere bakar” (Through two banks, the brook of Elevit runs by, It makes me feel cool and I gaze at the passerby.)
We had a farewell to Fırtına Valley with the hope of meeting next year and made track for Sumela Monastery. This monastery, erected on a hillside of a peak of Karadağ that is on the southern part of Maçka District in Trabzon, is called Virgin Mary Monastery in public. It is said that the core meaning of “Sumela” Monastery, constructed in the name of Mary (panagia), derived from the word “Melas” which means black-white darkness. According to Semavi Eyice “The monastery got the name Sumela due to black Mary depiction, respected herein previously and the name of this mountain is accepted as Oros Mela (Black Mountain)
due to the name of monastery”. According to the legend, the foundation of Sumela Monastery, two Athenians, Barbaras and his nephew Sophrinios saw Virgin Mary in their dreams and the Virgin Mary asked them to erect a monastery and showed its place and how to go. These two Athenians set forth with a table, which was reputedly made by Saint Luke; they arrived in Trabzon via sea and decided to construct the church on the cragged side of black mountain. They built the first rock church in Theodosius Era (375-395). Even though this date is not the precise construction date of this church, it is assumed to be erected between the stated years. To some researcher’s mind it was built in 385 AD and to some in 472 AD. Leaving these legends and dates aside, it is possible to examine the history of monastery after Trabzon kemnenos era. Alexios III of
Trabzon kemnenos made this church built in 1390 as a new complex with 72 rooms which was 17 metre high, 40 metre long,
14 metre wide on the whole. With the presents and rights that Trabzon kings offered to this monastery, they got the support of their people. An excursion full of unforgettable memories had come to an end when we turned back from Sumela Monastery. Even before being back to İstanbul, I started to plan another Black Sea excursion. Contacts:
Cancık Pension: (0.464) 654 41 20
Doğa Otel: (0.464) 651 74 55
Elevit, a lesser district of Çamlıhemsin, is a place at 1800 metre altitude where you can see typical plateau houses It is said that the core meaning of “Sumela” Monastery, constructed in the name of Mary(panagia), derivedöfrom the word“Melas” which means black-white darkness Kapılı Göller (Lakes with Gates) on the lower slopes of Verçenik Mountain with 3000 metrealtitude, everybody was perplexed on seeing this natural magnificence Fırtına Brook, was running in ever magnificence despite global warming and dam, planned to be erected on it