Amasra

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Amasra (pop. 7000) is one of the most spectacularly situated cities on the Black Sea Coast. Straddling two natural harbors with clean, sandy beaches, its natural beauty is striking: craggy7 cliffs rise above snaking shorelines, rocky islands, and rich blue waters. On top of that, the remains of its considerable medieval fortifications add historic charm and an almost surreal atmosphere. They also provide excellent vantage points from which to survey the town below. Today, however, the town also has several modern, well-equipped pensions and hotels (book ahead in summer), excellent seafood restaurants, and a hassle-free, reasonably priced market for souvenirs (mostly woodwork and embroidery).
Over 3000 years of trade and fishing have left Amasra the same quiet beach getaway that Queen Amastris was looking for in the 4th century BC when she founded the town on the site of Sésamos, an ancient Miletian port.

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TRANSPORTATION

Tire main transport hub closest to Amasra is Bartin, 16km south, accessible by dolmuş (every 30min. 7:30am-9pm; $.80, students $.60). Most major buses pass through Bartin. Travelers heading east along the coast to Sinop should be prepared for a long, frustrating journey. The route is serviced only by minibuses and can take a long time. Start very early in the morning; minibuses run rarely in the afternoon and not at all in the evening. Check when buying a ticket whether buses leave from Amasra or Bartin. Özemnlyet provide direct bus service from Amasra to: Afyon (9hr., 7pm, $19); Ankara (from Bartin: 4hr., 8 per day 5:30am-1am, $9.50; direct from Amasra: 5:30 and 9:30am, $9); Antalya (15hr.; 4:30, 7pm; $20); Bodrum (17hr., 7pm, $24); Bursa (7hr.; 10am, 5pm; $13); İstanbul (8hr., 7 per day 6:30am 11:30pm, $13); İzmir (1hr., 5pm, $21). Minibuses run to Bartin and Cide (2hr.; 7, 11am, 2:30, 7pm; $3).

ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Amasra sits on a peninsula that juts out into the Black Sea, forming two harbors. The western harbor is known as Küçük Liman (small harbor), the eastern one is Büyük Liman (big harbor). Most of the buses stop in Atatürk Meydan, the main square. Opposite is a park that leads to the western harbor. Küçük Liman Cad. runs along the western harbor by the hotels before winding left into the fortress. There is a small square on the western harbor, surrounded by the FIT and a number of hotels and restaurants. Çekiciler Cad. (the woodworking market) runs east from Küçük Liman Cad. across the peninsula toward the eastern harbor.

In the square, Türkiye İş Bankası has an ATM and exchanges currency and traveler’s checks. (Open M-F 9am-12:30pm and 1:30-5:30pm.) While there is no tourist office, the Belediye Bina (municipal building) has a reception desk which can be of assistance. (Open M-F 8am-midnight.) A wonderful English-language resource is the Aydın Eczanesi, a pharmacy next door to the PTT. Friendly pharmacist Aydm Söğüt, his wife, and his daughter can help with minor currency exchange and, of course, medical assistance. (315 23 23. Open daily 8:30am-midnight.) Other services include: the Devlet Hastanesi (state hospital, 315 21 98); IZO Internet Cafe on Kum Mah., Barış Sok. No. 3/A (open 9am-midnight; $.90 per hr.); and the PTT, on the square by the western harbor. (Open 8am-llpm.) Postal code: 74300.

ACCOMMODATIONS

In the summer, make reservations in advance, especially on weekends. Some hotels close down in winter, so phone ahead. Toward the center of town, the K Otel Belvü Palas , 20 Küçük Liman Cad., has 15 large, clean rooms with whitewashed walls, many with stunning views and all with bath. (315 12 37. Singles $13; doubles $25.50; triples $38.50; quads $51.) Across the peninsula, on the eastern harbor, is the small Amasra Oteli , 49 General Mithat Ceylan Cad., which offers eight comfortable, carpeted rooms, six with bath and two with sea views. (315 17 22; fax 315 30 25. Singles $8; doubles $16; triples $20. Discount for longer stays.) Next door is the larger, more glamorous Otel Timur 0, 57 Çekiciler Cad., sporting marble hallways, hardwood floors, and 18 rooms with immaculate bath, six with sea views and TV. (315 25 89; fax 315 32 90. Breakfast included. Singles $10; doubles $20; triples $25.) The Nur Turistik Pansiyon , Küçük Liman Mah., Çamlık Sok. No. 3, along the waterfront road, offers 17 rooms, eight with waterfront views. (315 10 15. Breakfast included. Singles $8; doubles $20; triples $31.) Balkaya Pension , on General Mithal Ceylan Cad., is a new, clean pension. Some rooms have balconies; nine of the rooms have phone, TV, and bath. (s315 14 34; fax 315 14 45. Singles $9; doubles $18; triples $27.)

FOOD

The restaurants along Amasra’s western harbor all specialize in fish and offer a range of decor, style, and atmosphere. The large and luxurious ü Canlıbalık Restaurant 0, 8 Küçük Liman Cad., recognized as the town’s best, provides an open-air setting, right next to the sea, with great harbor views. (Barbun fish $3; mezgit fish $2.50; rakı $1.25. Open noon-midnight.) Çinar Restaurant, 1 Küçük Liman Cad., is an established, central fish restaurant similar to Canlıbalık but with more meat choices. (315 10 18.) Near the Timur and Amasra hotels, overlooking the fishing boats in the eastern harbor, Çeşmi Cihan Restaurant , 21 Büyük Liman Cad., serves a wide variety of tasty fish to go with good views. (315 10 62. Fish from $3. Open 1 lam-midnight.) Liman Restaurant 0 (315 23 48), at the far end of the Büyük Liman Cad., at the end of the harbor, serves alabalık (trout; $4), gupra fish ($5), and rakı ($1.25). Make sure to club up to the roof terrace for the full experience. For remarkable gözleme, head to Kale Altı Kafeterya, Çekiciler Cad. No. 37, on the carpenter’s road. (315 19 21. Open 8am-lam.) Sormagir Cafe O, Kum Mahallesi K. Liman Cad. No. 24/A, by the citadel, bakes gözleme and prepares fillings in front of you. (315 34 04. Open until 1am.)

NIGHTLIFE

Take the next left after Canlıbalık, walking toward the ruins, to get to HAN Bar, Küçük Liman Cad. No. 17, which has live Turkish music every night and an atmospheric interior. (315 27 75. Tuborg beer $1.30; rakı $2. Open 10am- 3am.) Su Bar, Kum Mah., Eyıleoğlu Sok. no 25/B (§315 13 95), is a new bar with nightly live music and a dance floor. Teras Cafe and Bar, Turgut Işık Cad. No. 3, has a chill, informal outdoor atmosphere to go with nightly live music and excellent views of the harbor. (S315 20 46. Open until 2am.) Amasra’s only nightclub, Beden Altı Disco-Bar, on Büyük Liman Cad. at the end of the harbor, is an outdoor disco with a huge dance floor, adjacent to Liman Restaurant. ($1.50 cover includes a drink. Beer $1.25. Open in summer 9pm-1am.)

 SIGHTS

Amasra is built around its ruins, so it’s easy to see them all while strolling around town. Although the town was fortified as far back as the 3rd cen- I tury BC, the citadel that today stands dates from the 9th century AD. Start your tour by following Küçük Liman Cad. from the western harbor left through the fortress gates. Follow the road around until you arrive at an ancient Roman bridge connecting the large island of Boztepe to the mainland. Turn right onto Kemere Sok. before the bridge and walk uphill to the Fatih Camii, Kale İçi Malı., Camii Önü

Sok., a ruined 9th-century Byzantine church that was converted into a mosque when Sultan Mehmet II conquered Amasra in 1460. Pass through another gate a little farther ahead to reach a lookout point atop the fortress walls on the right. Strings of lights affixed to a billboard outline the silhouette of Atatürk on one side and of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror on the other. A bit farther on lies another neglected Byzantine church. The frescoes inside have almost completely faded.

The town museum, Kum Mah., Çamlık Sok., recently renovated, has miscellaneous items from the Hellenic through Ottoman eras, including a collection of Ottoman pistols. Outside, ancient columns and tablets with Hellenic, Roman, early Christian, and Ottoman inscriptions are being slowly eroded. (315 10 06. Open daily 8:30am-5:30pm. $1.50, students $1.25.) Difficult to find but well worth the search is the local woodworking craft and artisans’ market on Çekiciler Cad.

If you’re looking for something a bit wilder than Amasra’s semi-urban beaches, head to nearby Bozköy, 15km away, a secluded beach with fine sand, clean blue waters, and dramatic green cliffs. The beach houses a cheap campsite. (Open July 1-Sept. 15. $2 percent.) Bozköy can be reached via minibus (25min., leaves when full 10am-7pm, $.75), or by taxi (about $16.) Make sure you don’t miss the last minibus back to Amasra. Two kilometers farther east Ls the small, pleasant town of Çakraz, with a more developed but still beautiful beach lined with cafes and a few reasonable hotels. Minibuses from Amasra stop in both Bozköy and nearby Çakraz. Be aware that neither Bozköy nor Çakraz is protected by a bay like Amasra’s. Some consider these “open beaches” to carry a greater safety risk.

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