The Konya of the Black Sea                        Population: 19,500

OfmosÇarşıbaşı Büyük Cami Midway between Trabzon and Rize on the Black Sea coast, Of is a town whose name must seem perfectly normal to a local who couldn't possibly be expected to know that it's a commonly used English preposition, nor that it sounds rather like the groan made by someone who has been punched in the stomach. Of

All of which is a long way from Of's claim to fame in Turkey which is that its people are believed to be unusually pious. There are said to be an exceptional number of mosques and Koranic schools here but most visitors will not notice anything out of the ordinary.

Only the huge Çarşıbaşı Büyük Cami in the centre may seem a tad on the large size, a thought that will last no longer than the time it takes to step across the threshold and see the magnificent stained glass with which it is endowed. The huge semicircular windows on two sides of the building are especially impressive and put me fleetingly in mind of Chartres or one of the great Gothic cathedrals.

Exernally, the building is no great beauty, but it's certainly impressive and may linger in your mind longer after you've forgotten many other more run-of-the-mill mosques. glass

With your own car you might want to explore the surrounding valleys where some of the last remaining Pontic-speakers live. They are descendants of the Greeks who once inhabited the area.

Transport info

Dolmuşes to Of leave from the minibus terminal on the eastern side of Trabzon (52km), down by the coast road. 

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