BLACK SEA AND TURKISH GEORGIA

Black Sea, Coruh Canyon and into the world of Georgian-Orthodox Churches

Kaçkar Mountains in the Turkish Caucasus are very rich in history: for centuries Christians, Muslims and Russians have fought for that strategically crucial mountain chain that separates Orient from the Occident. Georgian medieval castles and monasteries are still nestling in the peaceful landscape today.

Unfortunately it is the site of the biggest Turkish dam project that will block the Çoruh River from Artvin to Ispir. Çoruh river is considered one of the ten most challenging and at the same time most scenic rafting rivers in the world. Probably the last sizeable nature and paddle paradise will be lost in the course of next few years. Around 40.000 people will be resettled in the cities and their villages will be sunk in a 150 kilometers long reservoir lake.

What will happen with the Georgian Orthodox churches that were once a major and predominant feature of Orthodox Christianity in Turkey? Will they be able to survive? Unfortunately this remains a big question…

Day Arrival in Trabzon via Istanbul

Day Sumela Monastery and Church of Hagia Sophia

Day Tea Plantation and Firtina Valley

Day The Kingdom of Tao Klarjeti

Day Tortum Sea, Oshk Vank and Haho

Day The Monastery of Iskhani, Bana and Kars

Day Ani, the ruined medieval armenian city and flight to Istanbul from Kars

Day Return flight from Istanbul

* Transfers, suitable Excursions and round trips, with Air-conditioned Coaches

* 7 overnights in 3 * up to 4 * Hotels (land type) with Air-condition

* Double Room with Bath or Shower and WC

* Half Board (Breakfast and Diner) partly as open Buffet

* Qualified, educated, official, English speaking Guides

* All entrance fees

* Welcome cocktail

* All tips and park coast

1.Day : Arrival Trabzon via Istanbul

Flight to Trabzon via Istanbul. Our proficent tour guide will be waiting for you at the airport with your ride to the hotel. Overnight stay in Trabzon

2.Day : Virgin Mary of the Black Mountains and Saint Sophia , Sumela Monastery and Trabzon

Sumela Monastery is an important pilgrimage place for the Christians and Muslims that is nestled in a steep cliff at an altitude of about 1000 meter like an aerie. According to the legend two greek priests found here in a cave a miraculous icon of Virgin Mary that was made by one of the disciples of Jesus Christ , St. Luke.

In the noon time we go back to the seashore. In the 13th century Trabzon became the capital city of the exile empire Trapezunt. The history of the church of Hagia Sophia dates back to that time. The chuch has greek origin, but it has regional armenian and georgian influence. The frescos considered one of the greatest Byzantine art works which survived. We arrive in Rize following the coastal road. Overnight stay in Rize

3.Day : Tea Plantation, Firtina Valley, Kackar Mountain

The black tea is the national drink of Turkey and anyone who had once a holiday in Turkey, must be familiar with it. Turkish people drink tea for every occasion, no matter while sitting in a cafe or having a walk in the city. The tea is offered at each corner of Turkey. This should definetly not be rejected because it is almost like an insult for the turkish people. Bevor we leave the motherland of the tea plant we visit one of the biggest tea producer. In front of the Kackar Mountain scenerey we take a walk in Firtina valley and enjoy our break at the river. We leave the coastal road and continue to drive through the gigantic Coruh valley by the Deriner dam, one of the highest ones in the world. 3 Overnights stay in the small village Yusufeli

4.Day : The kingdom of Tao-Klarjeti

We drive through the Coruh river to the mountain villages of Kackar called Barhal and Dortkilise. The churches of Barhal and Dortkilise which are used as mosques today have been the former monastries from the 10th century which once belonged to the medieval georgian kingdom Tao-Klarjeti. Overnight stay in Yusufeli.

5.Day : Tortum Sea, Osk Vank, Hahov

Along the Tortum sea with a wonderful view we arrive Osk Vank, which is a former monastery from the 10th century. We see the ruins of the biggest church of the region. Haho is also from the same century, however it is in a better condition today as it is used as a mosque today. The return trip is over Oltu, a province of the turkish city Erzurum which is famous with its Oltu Stone (amber). This Stone from the quartz family can be cut and polished and hence used in the middle age for making the decorative things. Today it is stil used in decoration industry. Overnight stay in Yusufeli

6.Day: Ishan, Bana

We drive to the small village called Ishan and visit the cathedral with the same name. The cathedral dates back to the 7th century and it has experienced many renovations. Bana, the ruined early medieval Orthodox cathedral stands alone in the landscape. Towards the evening we arrive in Kars. Overnight stay in Kars.

7.Day : Ani

Ani is the ruined medieval Armenian city. Between 961 and 1045 it was the capital of the medieval (Bagratuni) Armenian Kingdom that covered much of present day Armenia and eastern Turkey. Ani is located at the turkish-armenian border on a 1338 meter high plateau. After the walk at Ani and the lunch flight to Istanbul. Overnight stay in Istanbul

8.Day : Return flight from Istanbul

Transfer from the hotel to the airport.