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AKÇAKOCA

Whitebeard's town                          Population:

akca1Old name: Diapolis (Roman)

Market day: Tuesday

Akçakoca is a small beach resort on the Black Sea just inland from Düzce. Its proximity to İstanbul makes it very popular with Turkish families and it's full of small family-run pensions catering for them with low prices and few frills. 

The town is named after Akça Koca (Whitebeard), a companion of Sultan Osman I, who ruled this area in the early 14th century and who appears in statue form on the waterfront along with the sultan and Konuralp from the near settlement of the same name. 

Although most of the town centre is made from the usual grim concrete the hilltop mahalles still retain a lot of old houses with red-brick filling in the wooden frames and weatherboarding on some of the facades.

Come up here and you'll discover a more stereotyically rustic Black Sea world where hazelnuts are still spread out to dry in the sun every September.

akca2Around town

Although this is not really a place to come to sightsee it does retain, in the hilltop Osmaniye Mahallesi, one stunning early 20th-century house, the glistening white Mehmet Arif Konağı, built in 1903 by Italian and Greek architects for a hazelnut magnate. It looks rather like an inland version of one of the İstanbul yalıs.

In the town centre the huge Merkez Cami, designed in 1989 by Ergün Subaşı, is very striking, certainly a cut above most modern mosque design. Inside it feels rather like a giant tent with magnificent light fittings hanging down and calligraphy in some of the stained glass windows. 

A pleasant stroll along the waterfront will bring you to the harbour where the fishing boats still set sail come rain or shine.akca3

Afterwards you should strike uphill in front of the Sky Tower Hotel, passing through the Cumhuriyet Mahalle until you reach the Yükarı Mahalle (Upper Neighbourhood) which still retains many fine old houses, albeit mainly in a patched-up state of repair. It's a quiet and inviting place that reminded me of a more rundown and less steep version of Upper Akçaaba, near Trabzon at the other end of the Black Sea. Buses come up here if you don't want to walk.

Around Akçakoca

Two km west of town stand the remains of a 14th-century Genoese castle on a site originally fortified by the Byzantines. Just the shell remains with one deep cistern inside. In 2014 it was closed for renovation which is unlikely to be sympathetic. There are beaches on either side of it as well as some lovely coastal rock formations.

akca4Five km west of town is the mouth of the Melen (Hypius) Çayı (river) which is now used for rafting (Grade 3) from early February to the end of April. 

Seven km south of town on the eastern side the Fakıllı Mağarası is signposted. I haven't visited it.

Eating

Right in the centre there are many small lokantas and other cafes offering reasonably priced food. More of a treat are the sea side meyhane-style restaurants, some of them right on the beach with superb sea views. I ate at Kamelya and was very happy with the experience although I suspect that Hamsi right down by the harbour gets the best sunset views. 

Sleeping

Except in high summer you should be able to walk into a place to stay very easily although you shouldn't expect to find much in the way of luxury or up-to-the-moment decor in the family-run hotels that cluster around Çınar Caddesi, the plane-tree-lined town centre. The better hotels are at either end of town right on the sea side. 

akca5Hazelnuts drying in the sun in the Yükarı Mahalle
Diapolis Otel. Tel: 0380-611 6600Hotel Akçakoca. Tel: 0380-611 4525

Sky Tower Hotel. Tel: 444 7759

Turkuaz Beach Hotel

Transport info

There are regular dolmuşes from Düzce and Karadeniz Ereğli to Akçakoca. Note that no public transport serves the coast road west of Akçakoca.

In Akçakoca you can pick up the Düzce and Ereğli minibuses from beside the Merkez Cami rather than having to trek out to the otogar on the western outskirts where they often arrive full (besides which you need to buy a ticket ahead of time to board the local buses to the otogar).

Day trip destinations

Aktaş Selalesi (waterfall)

Karadeniz Ereğli

Konuralp

Kurugöl Kanyon

Sanyayla Selalesi (waterfall)

 

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