KIYIKÖY occupies an idyllic location overlooking the Black Sea, flanked on both sides by slow-moving rivers, full of terrapins and rented canoes, and lushly forested spurs of the Istranca hills. It was fortified by the Byzantines around the sixth century, though most of what is still standing dates from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Kıyıköy’s pre-1923 Greek population was replaced by Balkan Muslims, but many inhabitants still use the former name, “Midye” – a corruption of Medea – after the locally harvested mussels. Today, gently crumbling half-timbered houses line the backstreets and fishing nets hang everywhere.
The main approach to the walled citadel is via the narrow south gate, sadly restored with pink cement bricks. The west gate opens onto what used to be the town’s agora, now housing a pair of tea gardens and offering superb views to the west. From here a road leads downhill and 300m up the Kazandere River to the impressive Aya Nikola Manastırı – an elaborate structure carved into the rock of the hillside, complete with colonnaded aisles, barrel vaulting and a semicircular apse of tiered seats where the clergy once sat. On the northeast side of the village it’s possible to see the part-brick tunnel, constructed to allow safe passage down to the harbour in time of siege – the only deep-water anchorage on this part of the coast. A fifteen-minute walk west of the village takes you to 2km of pristine sandy beach, backed by low cliffs oozing fossils, though some of the landscape inland is blighted by campers’ rubbish and semi-permanent tents. Several more almost empty beaches – indeed, some of the most beautiful and undeveloped in Turkey – lie east of Kıyıköy, near where the Pabuçdere meets the sea.