One of the most famous ports on the Black Sea Coast, Sinop has provided shelter to sailors since ancient times. Nowadays a resort town popular with young Turks, Sinop’s crystal-clear waters and long, sandy beaches are possibly the cleanest in Turkey. Though on the tacky and dusty side, the town itself features the ruins of medieval castles and a lively nightlife around its natural harbor.
Sinop takes its name from Sinop, a mythical nymph who spurned the advances of the thunderbolt-hurling god Zeus. Hoping to lure her into his Olympian sack, he offered to grant her a single wish. Thwarting the horny Olympian’s plans, she asked for eternal virginity. Zeus, bound to his promise, isolated her on the tiny mountainous peninsula where modern Sinop now slumbers.
The larger bus companies don’t serve the treacherous road between Sinop west to Amasya; local minibus companies pick up the slack. Sinop has a small otogar, spectacularly and rather bizarrely located in the old city walls. Services can be infrequent so make sure to check the night before. Traveling west can be frustrating and time consuming; start very early.
Buses run from the otogar to: Ankara (9hr.; 3 per day at 9pm; $16, students $14.50); Bursa (10hr.; 2:30pm; $12, students $11); Giresun (6hr.; 8pm; $12, students $11); İstanbul (11hr.; 9am, 7pm; $28, students $24); İzmir (18hr.; 2:30pm; $28, students $24); Kastamonu (3hr.; 6 per day 10am-7pm; $8, students $6.50); Ordu (6hr., 8pm, $9.50); Rize (10hr., 8pm, $14); Samsun (3hr.; 10 per day 7am-8pm; $8, students $6.50); Trabzon (8hr.; 8pm; $13, students $11); Ünye (5hr.; 8pm; $9.50, students $8).
Minibuses: These run westward along the coastal road to Abana (2hr.; 8am, 5:45pm; $5.50, students $4.50) and Inebolu (3hr.; 8am, 5:45pm; $6, students $5).
ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION
The Sinop peninsula juts northeast into the Black Sea. In the center of town, at a large roundabout, Sakarya Cad. intersects Atatürk Cad., which runs south toward the harbor and a large square, Uğur Mumcu Meydanı. The town’s main street, Sakarya Cad., runs from the city center southwest past the otogar toward the mainland. The cheap hotels are on Kurtuluş Cad., near the harbor and fish restaurants; follow Sakarya Cad. until it intersects with Atatürk Cad.
- Pharmacies: On Sakarya Cad.
- Hospital: Atatürk Hastanesi (»261 45 10). Follow Sakarya Cad. to the town hall and turn right downhill. Open 24hr.
- Internet Access: FVT Internet Cafe, Aşıklar Cad. No. 31, on the main coastal road. $.80 per hr. Open daily 9am-midnight.
- PTT: In Uğur Mumcu Meydanı. Open daily 8:30am-llpm, mail services until 5pm. 20 phones, available until 11pm.
Postal Code: 57000.
Sinop has plenty of reasonably priced rooms next to the fortifications along the waterfront. Yuvam Belediye Plajı and Karakum Plajı are two of many campsites.
Otel Meral, 19 Kurtuluş Cad. (»261 31 00). 20 simple, large, sunny rooms, 3 of which have private bath. Rooms on higher floors have stunning harbor views. Solar-powered hot water. Singles $6.50, students $5, with bath $9.50; doubles $12, students $9.50, with bath $19; triples $16, students $14.50; quads with bath $24. O Uğur Aile Pansiyon, 4 iskele Cad. (261 59 47), along the waterfront. A budget-friendly place with 9 large rooms, 2 with a great view, common baths, kitchen, and free laundry. Restaurant on the harbor offers good fish. Singles $8, students $6.50; doubles $13, students $9.50; triples $14.50, students $13; quads $19, students $16.
Karakum Tatil Köyü (261 26 94; fax 261 26 93). This vacation village on Karakum beach is 2km west of the town center along the coastal road. You can make the trip via the regular dolmuş ($.30) or on foot (30-35min.). Breakfast is included at the hotel, bungalows, and apartment villas. Hotel: 18 simple rooms, all with bath and sea views. Singles $9.50; doubles $19; 2-room suites $32. Bungalows: 2-person $22.50; 4-person with kitchen $45. Apartment villas: 3-person with kitchen $34. Campsite: $4,80 per tent or caravan (open June-Sept.). Good private beach.
Gazi Piknik ve Mesire Yeri (s-260 23 87). Set in a forest by the beach. Turn right from the otogar on Sakarya Cad. and walk 100m. Sinop’s largest, cheapest, closest campsite. $4 per tent or caravan. Electricity $.50. Student discount.
FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT
There are several excellent fish restaurants in the port. Follow the waterfront past the tourist office to the cheap restaurants serving mantı and gözleme. After a day at the beach, Sinop vacationers play backgammon and erikrig (a local version of the game played with tiles) at the waterfront cafes on Kıbrıs Gael.
Saray Restaurant, 18 İskele Cad. (261 17 29), on the port waterfront. One of the best fish restaurants in town. Select your own fish from the kitchen. Salmon $4. Rakı $1.50. Open daily 9am-4am; in winter daily 9am-midnight.
Balık Restaurant, 1/B İskele Cad. (s-260 33 68), near the port next to the fortress. Possibly the best fish restaurant in town. Serves fresh crab ($.50 per crab). Rakı $1.25. Open daily 9am-4am; in winter 9am-midnight.
Burç Cafe ( 260 32 19), atop the citadel’s tower. A great place to have çay ($.25) and enjoy the view. Live saz performances nightly 9pm. Open Apr.-Oct. daily 8am-midnight. Diogenes Bar, 5 İskele Cad. (261 57 21), across from the Uğur Restaurant. Behind the large black door lies Sinop’s most vibrant bar. Beer $1.25. Open daily 8pm-4am. Teleskop Disco, on Karakum Beach, 3km west of the town center and uphill from the coastal road. DJs spin Turkish and foreign dance music. Open daily 9:30pm-very late. Barbarosa, Tersane Mah. Kurtuluş Cad. 26/2 (•a‘261 89 16). Caters to a mostly young crowd in a club-like atmosphere. Live bands, playing both Turkish and Western music.
Beachgoers have a number of options in Sinop’s clear, fresh waters. Akliman Halk Plajı, 12km from town on the western coast, is long, gorgeous, and uncrowded. (Dolmuş leave from Uğur Mumcu Meydanı. 20min.; every 30min. M F 8am-6pm, Sa-Su 8am-10pm; $.50.)The Gazi Piknik ve Mesire Yeri has a small, quid beach, usually populated by camping families. ($.50.) Half a kilometer from central Sinop, Yuvam Belediye Plajı, next to the Orman company, is free but quite crowded. It gets better the farther you head away from town. The packed and overdeveloped Karakum Plajı draws a younger crowd of sun-seekers. (A 30min. walk or brief dolmuş ride ($.30) northeast from Uğur Mumcu Meydanı along Kıbrıs Cad. Facing the sea from Sinop, turn left. $.35.) Boat tours leave from the port in the center. ($7 per hr.)
Sinop’s imposing fortifications date from 770 BC, when the port was settled by Miletian colonists. What stands today is a mish-mash of Pontic and Ottoman renovations. Some remains stand near the otogar, but the walls by the harbor at the end of Atatürk Cad. are much more impressive.
Most notable for a large Hellenistic sculpture of a deer strangely unconcerned about being devoured by lions, the museum also houses a sizable collection of Greek, Roman, and Ottoman coins, early Bronze Age pottery, and various amphorae. Upstairs is a collection of 19th-century Greek Orthodox icons, including several beautiful Annunciations and a vicious St. George slaying the dragon, and an exhibit on Ottoman calligraphy.
Behind the museum lie the remains of the Temple of Serapis, dating to the 4th century BC. Serapis is associated with Asclepius, god of medicine, healing, and dreaming. There is also a memorial to Ottoman soldiers who died after an 1853 surprise Russian attack on the Ottoman navy in Sinop Harbor. (At the end of Sakarya Cad. Scheduled to reopen by Summer 2002.)
Sinop’s two oldest Islamic monuments are the 13th-century rectangular Selçuk Alaaddin Camii and Pervane Medresesi, next to each other on the north side of Sakarya Cad. The medresesi now houses a school, but you can get a peek of the courtyard. Sultan Keykubad built the high-walled mosque with a sin¬gle large dome and two small flanking domes after the Selçuks seized Sinop in 1214. The mosque’s mihrab is a spectacular example of Selçuk calligraphy in gold and marble. The medresesi was built in 1262 after the second sacking of the city.
One kilometer from the city center is the Seyit Bilal Türbesi, the Selçuk-built tomb of a Muslim martyr. Seyit Bilal was leading an armada to attack Constantinople when a storm forced him into the Byzantine-controlled port of Sinop, where he was decapitated. Legend has it that after his execution, he walked from the city center, at that time located near the Alaaddin Camii, to the site of his tomb all the while carrying his newly severed head under his arm. While the tomb and its accompanying mosque aren’t particularly striking architecturally, the site is exceptionally holy for Sinopean Muslims. (From the intersection of Sakarya Cad. and Atatürk Cad., continue heading uphill with your back to Sakarya Cad.)
Abandoned and deteriorating rapidly, the extensive ruins of Balatlar Kilisesi, a 7th-century Byzantine church, retain some beautiful frescoes of the evangelists and various saints. (Near the intersection of Radar Yolu and Kemalettin Sami Paşa Cad., lkm northeast of the museum. To get there, walk uphill from the intersection of Atatürk Cad. and Sakarya Cad. toward the Seyit Bilal Türbesi, but take the right fork after the jandarma road sign.)