north from the town of Ýzmit towards
the Black Sea, a great mountain rises in the
distance, its mysteries concealed behind cloudy
peaks, deep echoing gorges, and thick wild forests.
The ancient and almost forgotten road from Ýzmit
to Istanbul's eastern district of Üsküdar
leads to Kocadað, winding its way through
pine and oak forest. In the mountaindý
foothills lie many secret gardens awaiting discovery.
This was the road used for centuries by caravans
carrying goods from Asia into Europe, and by
armies on campaigns of conquest. From Istanbul
it passes Ömerli Dam and the village of
Molla Fenari near Gebze, before reaching Ýzmit.
In each season Kocadað casts a different
coloured shadow over this old road as it wends
its way through the green depths of the forest.
The mountain extends from Sevindikli to the
coastal town of Aðva, and in its foothills
nestle villages and towns which have been here
for long centuries. First among those which
visitors should not miss is the village of Kutluca,
which combines scenic beauty with ruins dating
from Roman, Genoese and Byzantine times.