Explore The Black Sea coast
Blessed with the finest natural harbour on the Black Sea, sleepy SINOP straddles a beach-studded isthmus and is renowned as one of the prettiest towns along the coast. The town’s clutch of monuments bestows a real authority on the place although most visitors are content to relax along the café-lined harbourfront where bobbing boats supply the day’s catch to the line of restaurants behind: nowadays it’s both fishing and tourism that provide most of the local income for the 35,000 inhabitants. Sinop also used to be the location of a NATO listening post: the peninsula is just about the northernmost point of Anatolia, less than two hundred nautical miles from the Crimea, and this formerly US-run base played a front-line role in the Cold War. A more contemporary battle is now raging locally, as residents fight proposals for Turkey’s first nuclear power station, which threatens to blight the local landscape.
Sinop’s city walls are still highly prominent and, although time has inevitably taken its toll, they remain by far the most atmospheric thing about the town. Down near the harbour, a hefty square tower offers good views out to sea and you can stroll along nearby sections of wall.
Sinop takes its name from the mythical Sinope, an Amazon queen and daughter of a minor river-god. She attracted the attention of Zeus, who promised her anything she desired in return for her favours. Her request was for eternal virginity; Zeus played the gentleman and complied.
After a wealthy period of Roman rule, Sinop declined during the Byzantine period, and sixth- and seventh-century attempts to revive the town’s fortunes were thwarted by Persian and Arab raids. The Selçuks took the town in October 1214, converting a number of churches into mosques and erecting a medrese, but after the Mongols smashed the short-lived Selçuk state, Sinop passed into the hands of the İsfendiyaroğlu emirs of Kastamonu until Ottoman annexation in 1458. Thereafter the town was rarely heard of, except on November 30, 1853, when the Russians destroyed both Sinop and an Ottoman fleet anchored here, thus triggering the Crimean War, and again on May 18, 1919, when Atatürk passed through en route to Samsun.Read More