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  • Land Of Oxygen

    Home to the Black Sea’s only official ‘slow city’, Perşembe, Ordu is re-dressing its tourism shop window with paragliding, winter sports, and nature, culture and gastronomy-based discovery tours.

    Turkey’s gateway to the Black Sea, Ordu stands out for its highlands shrouded in silvery grey clouds, its lush green slopes covered with hazelnut plantations, and its longer than long sand beaches. A hundred and ten kilometers from Samsun-Çarşamba Airport, it is awaiting 2014 with bated breath. Ordu-Giresun Airport, slated for completion in the coming year, is Turkey’s first airport, and one of a handful in the world, to be built on the sea. Declaring its new tourism slogan, “A city not to pass through but to stay in”, Ordu is working feverishly to promote its riches. Known as the Black Sea Cappadocia in antiquity for its historic sites, sheltered coves and emerald green peninsula, it is a candidate for shining star of Anatolia today. This is a place rife with surprises as the city boasting 19 species of orchid, some of them endemic, and the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts. The Great Minds Think Alike Project was developed to promote tourism and bring nature lovers to the city’s copper mines. One of the mainstays of the project, the Ordu Hiking Trails have been marked with international road signs in an extensive undertaking by writer-photographer Ersin Demirel and his team. Like their counterparts around the world, the trails, which combine ancient trade and migration routes with forest paths, are now outfitted with international signs. Practical touring maps with GPS coordinates have also been drawn for these trails, which exhibit incomparable biodiversity. The combined length of the trails, which are comprised of 23 different routes today, is 336 kilometers. In addition to a book titled Ordu Hiking Trails and Tourism Exploration Guide, an internet website, www.ordutrekking.com, has also been set up. How about a look from on high at oxygen-rich Ordu, where mountains and sea meet? Thanks to a cable car that went into operation in the summer of 2012, it’s now possible to glide over the city on a pleasant ride from the coast up to Boztepe. The viewing terrace at the top is also used as a paragliding piste.

    The cobblestone road from Boztepe back down to the city is the start of a comprehensive tour that lets you explore Ordu on foot in two hours. The first stop on this sevenkilometer route is the quarter called Taşbaşı with its historic mansions. After the Ethnographic Museum, it proceeds along Lise Avenue to the Ottoman-period Atik İbrahim Paşa Mosque. The Aziziye and Hamidiye mosques and Osman Paşa Şadırvan (pool with fountain) also lie on the way. The smaller towns around this city, which boast a climate and terrain ideal for nature activities, are also worth seeing: Perşembe, for example, which has been declared a ‘slow city’, more than deserves its title Cittaslow as indicated by the sign of the snail. Numerous projects have been developed, from reducing the amount of exhaust fumes in the air to preserving the local cuisine, in this town of 9,300 known earlier as Vona. Public service by bicycle is about to get under way here as well when public services such as environmental, postal and garbage collection will be provided on two wheels. Another place worth seeing in this town where practically every house has a garden and a view of the sea is Yason Burnu. The shores of this headland, which boasts a small lighthouse and an old church, are dotted with ancient fish pools dating back to the first century B.C.E. Another wonder in this town of endless lovely beaches like Çaka, Aktaş, Belicesu and Efirli is Hoynat Adası, an island that is home to the Black Sea’s largest cormorant population. Perşembe’s neighbor to the west, Fatsa, is famous for the Haznedaroğlu Mansion, crystal clear Lake Gaga, and ecotourism center Kabakdağı. The otters and winter daffadils in the Bolaman Valley are protected under the International CITES agreement. Pearl of the Ordu coast Ünye, one of 135 major nature areas in Turkey, is home to some of the finest and most original examples of the local architecture. Its highlands too are some of Ordu’s must-see’s. Çambaşı Highland 60 kilometers from Ordu, Zile Obası in the township of Mesudiye, which has forfeited none of its natural beauty, Perşembe Highland at Aybastı, famous for its serpentine meandering rivers, and others. Home o§f oxygen Ordu is waiting to share its beauty with you.

    HERBAL PARADISE
    Everything from cherries to fresh green beans is pickled in Ordu, land of hazelnuts, fish and honey. Kale soup, ‘tirmit’ (a kind of mushroom) and fresh sauteed herbs are other big favorites. The city’s veteran gastronomy expert Cemal Şeker says that more herb dishes are made in Ordu than in any other part of Turkey and that tasting Perşembe’s famous walnut halvah is a must.

    THE VOSVOS FESTIVAL
    We asked Ordu lover Enis Ayar, who was instrumental in putting the historic Yason Church on the tourism map, about the city’s lesser known wonders. Ayar, who is also one of the architects of the Ordu Vosvos Festival, held for the 12th time in 2012, suggests two places in close proximity to each other: Ablak Kayası, a rock formation overlooking Geçilmez (Impassable) Canyon, and Kaleboynu Obası, where the film Zefir was shot.

    GEORGIAN THEATER
    One of Ordu’s leading tourism professionals, Güven Özel recommends that you try the local cuisine to the accompaniment of Georgian open-air theater, known as Mesti Buzye, in the village of Kabakdağı.

    SKIING AT ÇAMBAŞI
    The first ski units have just been completed at Çambaşı Winter Sports Center in the town of Kabadüz. Pistes at this center at an altitude of 1.850 meters currently total 10 kilometers.

    SUMMER FESTIVALS
    There is a festival in Ordu almost every week to the end of September starting with the Vona Cycling Festival on June 28.

    THE LONGEST TUNNEL
    The 3,820-meter Nefise Akçelik Tunnel is the longest in Turkey.