Trabzon - Altindere National Park


Location: This is the best known park in the Black Sea region, and lies to the west of Trabzon.

Transportation: The park can be reached via the 48km road connecting Trabzon to Macka.

Highlights: In addition to the wide range of flora and fauna, the Sumela Monastery is one of the main sites of the park. Also known as Meryemana, because it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it lies at an altitude of 300m and was the centre of Christianity in the region. It also has a very significant place in the history of art. It is thought that the monastery was constructed in the 4th century, although Alexios III, (1349 - 1390) can be named as the real founder. It was extended in the 19th century, at a time when it enjoyed its most popular period.

The entrance is via a narrow and long staircase, and consists of water canals, library, kitchen, guest rooms, cisterns, and the pool in which holy water was collected. The building clings dramatically to the sheer rock wall, overlooking mountain forests and mountain springs.

The flora in the park is very rich, the dominant species being the Eastern spruce tree. Fir trees, Scotch pine, chestnut, oak, lime tree, willow, black pine, Caucasian honeysuckle, and forest rose all cover the area. The main species of animal are deer, roe deer, wild goats, wild boar, bears, wolves, jackals, foxes, and lynx, some of which owe their survival to the local flora.

Facilities: Most people visit between April and October, for trekking and to visit the monastery. There are tourist bungalows in specific areas of the park which can be reserved through the office.