Jason and I have talked about doing a Black Sea Road trip throughout the North East area of Turkey ever since we moved to Turkey, but it has never happened in the last 4 years of living here. On HIS birthday, Jason surprised me by setting aside some dates, finding tickets, renting a car, and making a ‘let’s go’ plan! So in less than 10 days before leaving, we finalized our itinerary and booked all our lodging for 12 nights. It was a little stressful but we made it happen! ***Spoiler: It turned out to be an amazing time, to say the least.
COVID-19 has not made 2020 fun for anyone, even us living the expat life in Turkey, and traveling in the midst of the virus meant we had to be extra careful and mindful of our exposure. You can check out some of our other travels during COVID times to Kalkan this past summer.
Now on to Amasya!
Amasya will charm your socks off and you may just decide to relax in this little town for longer. It will for sure make you want to come back and just slow your pace of life to match this little peaceful mountain life.
Located 2 hours SouthWest of Samsun, Amasya is the capital of the Amasya province in the Black Sea region. This area is famous for its juicy apples (which we have tried in Izmir but not there ironically!). Amasya’s history dates back around 7,500 years, was home of the famous Greek Strabo. The well fortified area produced many kings, artists, philosophers, and sultans throughout the centuries.
The most appealing beauty that draws people to Amasya today are the Ottoman era houses, also known as Yalıboyu Evleri. Carved into the cliff jetting up behind these homes are rock tombs of former Pontus kings who once ruled this area. History lovers, especially Ottoman ones, are drawn to this location as the birthplace of sultan Murad I and Selim I.
Wether you love the beauty of a rivertown, climbing mountains, or history, everyone can find something to love about Amasya. Read on to read our recommendations for Rize.
What you should see and do in Amaysa, Turkey:
1. Amasya Castle aka Harşena Castle:
- Overlooking the city at 227 meters Harşena mountain, the Amasya Castle or Fortress has 3 different levels. Built during the Pontiac Kingdom, this fortress has undergone tons of changes, additions, and rebuilds over the centuries as it was attacked by the Persian, Roman, Pontus and Byzantine Empires. Shortly in the 18th century, it lost its strategic importance and was no longer necessary.
- Although modern stairways make it accessible to reach the top, it is still a long steep (aka. not the easiest) climb to the top – (check out our video to see why)! Along the way you will pass city walls, 8 levels of defenses, living quarters, cisterns, public baths, and maiden’s palace.
2. Rock Tombs
- One can’t miss the ancient rock tombs (Kral Kaya Mezarları in Turkish) carved into the rock of Harşena. The impressive manmade tombs of the kings of Pontus are visible from almost every spot in Amasya. The Royal Necropolis is the first and the only necropolis of the royal family in the world.
- By day visitors can climb the old stars to see the 18 rock tombs measuring between 8-15 meters in height unclose and get a unique view of the city. By night they are illuminated for all to see from the riverside. Remember the Greek philosopher Strabo? Yeah, he first wrote about this Pontus Kings tombs back in 40 B.C.
3. Take a walk along the riversides:
- This will most likely be the first thing you do when you get to town, like we did. However, If you have time, I always suggest to start at the highest point (see #1- the castle) and work your way down!
- But the serenity and peacefulness that extends from the calm waterways jutted with Ottoman style homes will definitely be the reason you fall in love with this town. Not to mention the background views of the mountain with its previously mentioned rock tombs and crowning castle walls.
BONUS: Nearby (ish) Unesco Hattusha Hittite Capital:
- If you decided to drive from Ankara to Amasya like us, you will pass right through Boğazkale District of Çorum Province, home to Uncesco site of Hattusha, the once Hittite capital. Monumental for it’s time the city wall of more than 8 km in length surrounds the whole city and speaks to the urban organization for its time. Some of the construction, rich ornamentation, ensemble of rock art date back to the 13th century B.C! The 6 km road made it easy to drive around this spread out site in see it all in 1-2 hours, depending on how long you stay at each stop – walking all of it would take all day (and exhausting).
- Completely overlooked and forgotten by foreign tourist, it is a hidden gem I wished we had had more time to explore! The Çorum museum in Çorum city is home to some of the historical findings and statues that can no longer weather the outdoors. If you do have time and love ancient stuff, definitely check out the museum in Çorum museum city. (We are sad we didn’t have time!) As well, several different historical sites like Örenyeri and Kalehisar Kalesi are all located in this area.
Our other tips for this area:
- For our road trip, we flew from Izmir to Ankara on Pegasus Airlines and drove a rental car from Ankara to Rize- stopping in Amasya, Samsun, Ordu, and Trabzon along the way.
- The closest airport to Amasya area is the Samsun plus a 2 hour drive inland. Like I said, not the closest to the Black Sea but still a major historical significance to the Black Sea Region that we do NOT regret stopping here!
- Çifte Konak Butik Otel: Nice hotel in an old Ottoman style home. Good Turkish breakfast and walkable to the riverside and downtown area. You can see a little more about this in our video.
- Amaseia Mutfagi: Recommended by a friend, this little restaurant has amazing views being right on the riverside. The food was very reasonably price and not disappoint. But the service was definitely lacking.
- If you are looking for a few extra stops, NorthEast-bound Samsun is located right on the Black Sea. Enjoy a night there, hang out on the coastline, and ride the cable car up the hill side.
Overall, Amasya is totally overlooked by tourist. If you want an authentic Turkish city and feel, this is a must stop on your Black Sea Road Trip. It is totally worth coming inland for a night or 2!
You can Explore Amasya with us over on our Following The Funks YouTube Channel via our video Explore Amasya.
Comment below and let me know about some of the questions below:
- Do you want to travel to Amasya now?
- Have you traveled to Amasya before?
- If so, what did you love? What did we miss?!
Other Black Sea Road Trip Post and Videos:
- SPOILERS: Instagram highlights
- My top 5 tools video for how we planned our travels – VIDEO
- Part 1: Explore Ankara, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 2: Explore Amasya, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 3: Explore Samsun, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 4: Explore Ordu, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 5: Explore Trabzon Part 1, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 6: Explore Rize ParT 1, Turkey – POST and VIDEO
- Part 7: Explore Rize PART 2, Turkey – VIDEO
- Part 8: BSRT FINALE! Explore Trabzon Part 2, Turkey – VIDEO