Ordu Black Sea Turkey


A broad bay halfway along the Black Sea coast...

All journeys to the Black Sea seem to really begin after passing Samsun and crossing into the province of Ordu. Suddenly Unye appears in the bay where it is concealed, and then the sandy beaches stretching as far as Fatsa make way for the winding road between Bolaman and Persembe. Here the luxuriant vegetation of the mountains leaps eagerly over the asphalt to meet the sea. Fishing villages nestling in tiny bays whose small harbors are filled with rocking boats appear and disappear as you drive along. To this ever-changing landscape is soon added huge hazelnut plantations. When you arrive at Ordu, built along a broad bay halfway along the Black Sea coast, you will feel as if you are making the acquaintance of the Black Sea for the first time. This city welcomes visitors with all the warmth of an old friend. First beautiful stone houses set in gardens smile in greeting, then the Black Sea shows its modern face, with tea gardens, restaurants and apartment blocks lining the road.

Like Samsun, Trabzon, and Giresun, Ordu was established in the mid-7th century BC by the Miletian colony of Sinop. In the 6th century, BC Ordu (the ancient Kotyora) and other Black Sea colonies were conquered by the Persians and became the province of Pontus. Alexander the Great then conquered this region in 334 BC, but even before his death, Anatolia was rebelling against his rule. In the 3rd century BC Pontus proclaimed its independence, and in 183 BC the Pontic ruler Pharnakes I captured Sinop and then Ordu. In 395 AD the region became part of the Byzantine Empire, and in the 12th century part of the Turkish Danismend emirate, when the city became known as Canik. In 1461 it passed into the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

According to J. A. Cramer, the earliest settlement at Ordu was at Bozukkale southeast of Vona Point near Persembe. Later a new settlement was established at Eskipazar 3 kilometers south of the present city, and here the remains of a mosque and baths dating from the period of the Turkish emirates can still be seen. The present city on the coast was built in 1780-1790 according to the western traveler Beauchamps and expanded rapidly in the mid-19th century. Subsequently, however, the Ottoman-Russian war and local unrest brought poverty, and a malaria epidemic then ravaged the area. By the 1920s the city was virtually derelict.

Today, Ordu has a population of nearly 420,000, and its economy is no longer dependent on hazelnuts. Whether to base its future development on tourism or industry is the current concern.

A bust standing in a small park near the city hall attracts little attention from passers-by, but in fact, Suleyman Felek, the first mayor of Ordu, was an important figure in the city's recent history since he replanned the city center.

With the north wind blowing in your face, turn from Fidangor into Sitki Can Street and from there wander towards the back streets. Pass the former governer's house standing in the melancholy reflection in the shade of a magnolia tree, a Greek Orthodox church that has been restored and now serves as a conference hall, and the Kosti Mansion now restored and renamed Sari Konak. On the other side of the road next to the blue-painted houses for the church clerics, a flight of steps leads to the old quarters of Zaferi Milli and Tasbasi. Narrow alleyways between houses in gardens take you to the neighborhood of Aziziye, where you then drop in on Harut, the last traditional coppersmith in Ordu.

Enis Ayar is the person who has contributed most towards developing tourism here. He launched the Vosvos Festival and has been endeavoring to reveal the secret of the strange stepped tunnel which leads from the Kurul Rocks, rising in the distance like three fingers, down to the River Melet. But to return to wandering through the city, you now arrived at Ordu Municipal Black Sea Theatre, established by Muhsin Ertugrul in 1964, and housed in the former Greek church in the district of Duz.

Visitors who stop in the city for a meal are sure to notice Aziziye Mosque as they walk through the center of the town. The original wooden mosque was demolished and rebuilt in 1894 by Kadizade Haci Hasan Efendi. Another important sight is the beautiful Osman Pasa Fountain made of carved stone. The fountain was originally built in 1905 by Hazinedaroglu Osman Pasa, but destroyed in the 1939 earthquake and reconstructed thanks to the endeavors of the Ordu Photographers Society.

Late in the afternoon, visit the Ethnographic Museum on the Boztepe road. The museum is housed in a mansion noted for its beautiful stone carving that was built in 1896 by Pasaoglu Huseyin Efendi. The stone for this mansion came from Unye and the wood from Romania. Ataturk stayed here when he visited Ordu. Finally, climb Boztepe to watch the sunset. The makeshift coffee house that once stood alone on the hilltop has been replaced by concrete restaurants. This is a popular weekend destination to which many people come to enjoy a picnic. Although building development has detracted from the beauty of the famous view over Ordu from Boztepe, as immortalized in a local folk song, it was still enchanting to watch the darkening blue of the Black Sea stretching from the green mountain foot to the horizon.