Gumushane Tourist Attractions
Black Sea region (central East Pontus)Situation and CharacteristicsDespite its former standing as a summer resort for the wealthy of Trabzon, Gümüshane is rather a provincial town.
Squeezed into the narrow valley of the upper Harsit Çayi, against a backdrop of impressive East Pontus mountain scenery, it has little scope for development. The economically backward and disadvantaged region in which it lies has one of the highest rates of outward migration of any in Turkey. Gümüshane is located in the midst of a very old mining district. Its name means "silver works".HistoryIn the 17th century Gümüshane was sited 4km/2.5mi south of the present town, nearer to the silver mines. Marco Polo mentions these mines in his "Travels". Lack of firewood for smelting led to their decline in the early 19th century In 1837 the town consisted of an (upper) Old Town close to the silver mines, and a newer settlement lower down. By 1870 the mines, which had been worked in the time of the Pontic kings as well as of the Roman and Byzantine emperors, were flooded. The deterioration of the Old Town, laid out like an amphitheater, was hastened by the Russian occupation of 1915.
The garrison town of Bayburt, about 77km/48mi southeast of Gümüshane, has been known by several different names in the course of its history. The Armenian Bagratids called it Paipert and the Ottomans (1361) Baiburt. It was here in 1364 that Alexios III defeated the Mongols and where in 1462 Mehmet the Conqueror confronted the Akkoyun Ogullari. Marco Polo stopped briefly in Bayburt on his journey to China. The town was destroyed in 1825 during the Russian invasion, afterwards being rebuilt. It stands on both side of the Çoruh Nehri in the shadow of its great fortress, likewise partly destroyed in 1829. The main mosque, the Ulu Cami, dates from the 16th century 20km/12mi to the southeast there are copper mines on a hillside just south of the little town of Maden.
Gümüshane Caravan Routes
The north Anatolian section of the Silk Road almost certainly passed through Gümüshane on its way to Trabzon (Trebizond). Xenophon, too, followed this traditional route, the main long-distance "highway" across central Anatolia to the Pontic coast and the Black Sea. It was not by any means the only route however, there being others of which particular caravans made use. Numerous traces of them remain.The principal route to Trabzon evidently crossed the Zigana Pass; a second went from Erzincan to Sadek, thence right over the Deveboy Tepesi to Maçka.
The 2,390m/7,844ft Kopdagi Pass, about 40km/25mi southeast of Bayburt on the Erzurum road, was once notorious because whole caravans ran the risk of being snowed under and frozen. It affords a distant view of the eastern Anatolian highlands, a series of magnificent mountain chains reaching in some cases well above 2,600m/8,500ft: to the south the Kop Dagi (2,600m/8,500ft), to the southwest the Cosan Daglari (2,963m/9,725ft), to the west the Ballitas Tepesi (2,903m/9,528ft), and to the southeast the Palandöken Daglari (3,176m/10,423ft). Also in view is the Askale/Erzurum basin.
From Gümüshane a road goes via the district town of Kelkit to the village of Sadek (about 90km/55mi south), which at one time was the summer seat of the Comnene Emperors of Trebizond. Some relics of this period survive. High above the village are the ruins of a fortress. Remains of a Roman aqueduct are found nearby.
Above the small town of Torul, once known as Ardasa, the ruins of a medieval fortress, Ardasa Kalesi, perch on a ledge just before the Harsit gorge. Torul is another place where, prior to 1850, silver mines were still being worked. In the valleys and villages between the Çit Deresi and the Ikisu Deresi, southeast of the town, there are numerous churches and monasteries.
About 18km/11mi southeast of Gümüshane a narrow road runs north into the remote mountain country of the Kalkanli Daglari. Driving through this region of impressive scenery and traditional Pontic villages, some quite well preserved churches can be seen, a legacy of the Greeks who formed the majority of the population here until 1924.
The 2,030m/6,662ft Zigana Pass, 63km/39mi northwest of Gümüshane, is one of the most spectacular in the Pontus Mountains. Once a crucial north-south "gateway" carrying a considerable traffic, the old route over the pass was very narrow, steep and winding; nowadays there is a new road with a reduced gradient. The old road is still there however, providing breathtaking views of the encircling mountains. The top of the pass marks the boundary between the provinces of Trabzon and Gümüshane. Further on (45 minute drive) the road crosses another ridge from where, it is said, Xenophon and the Ten Thousand at last caught sight of the sea, 50km/31mi away, joyfully shouting "thalatta!" (the sea!). A mixture of alpine pasture interspersed with woodland makes the area ideal for hill walking. There is a marked contrast between the firs, beeches, ferns and rhododendrons which grow in the damp northern Pontic climate, and the pines, junipers and oaks of the drier south.