Black Sea beauty                              Population: 7,000

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Old names: Sesamus (Greek), Amastris

As you drive along the coast from İstanbul to Samsun the first really appealing resort that you'll come to is Amasra which grew up around a pair of harbours (Büyük Liman and Küçük Liman) and the headland in between them.

It's a low-key kind of place although, like everywhere else, it roars into life during Turkish school holidays.

Don't come here expecting a Bodrum-style nightlife, flashy hotels or even a Patara-style beach. On the other hand you will find ruins dating back to the days of the Genoese occupation wound around the headland, plenty of inviting small restaurants and enough wooden knick-knacks on sale to stock a warehouse. 

Around town

200 DSC04870Start your explorations on the headland where long stretches of Genoese fortifications dating back to the 13th century are still intact. Look out in particular for some of the surviving coats of arms over the gateways, the inscriptions in Latin and the reused Roman masonry.

One long stretch of wall has been rebuilt to give you an idea what it would have looked like in its heyday.

Inside the walls is the Kale (Castle) which is still occupied today with houses built right against the walls. Specific sights to seek out include the tiny Kilise Mescidi (Church Chapel) and the much larger Fatih Cami, both of which started life as Byzantine churches before going on to become mosques after Mehmet II occupied Amasra for the Ottomans in 1460.

The most romantic part of the fortifications is the part that can be reached via the Roman bridge. Follow signs to the Ağlayan Agaç (“Weeping Tree”) Cafe and you will find yourself looking out over Tavşan Adası (Rabbit Island) to what the signs describe as the “never-ending sea.”

Inside a 19th-century building intended to house a naval school, Amasra’s museum (closed Mondays) is worth seeking out particularly to inspect a group of 2nd-century headless statues uncovered during construction work for an industrial site. Apparently buried deliberately, they are thought to be reminders of a period when there was still tension between local Christians and pagans.

Even more impressive is a marble torso which is clad in armour decorated with the images of Romulus and Remus suckling a wolf (a symbol of Rome) and a statue of Athena. 

Boat trips out to sea are available from the Büyük Liman (Big Harbour).200 DSC04904

Amasra is low on truly interesting hotels although that could change at any moment.

Büyük Liman Hotel, Amasra. Tel: 0378-315 3900

Şahil Otel, Amasra. Tel: 0378-315 2211

Transport info

To get to Amasra take a bus from İstanbul or Ankara to Bartin and then catch an onward dolmuş. Long-distance buses use the new intercity bus terminal, while dolmuşes use the Eski Otogar (Old Bus Terminal) in the town centre. With luck you should be able to take a free servis bus between the two. 

It is much more time-consuming and difficult to drive along the coast from İstanbul to Amasra than you might assume. 

Day trip destinations



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