Remember that winter when you were very active in the sharp cold of different geographies and the landscapes where the surrounding town, village, mountains, and highlands were covered with snow… Albums have many photos of those moments. Snow is the biggest trump card of winter without a doubt; it has an irresistible call. If it is time for a white vacation, it is time for praise for snow. In winter, lives go on indoors, but then chimneys smoke, meals cook more deliciously on stoves; chats made while chestnuts are roasted on wood fire, books read in front of the fireplace bring forward the nice traits of a chilling winter.
Considering those who hit the roads not just to ski but also to be in nature, shoot photos, do trekking and breathe in the fresh air, we have selected pleasant snow destinations. Here are the seducing destinations that would break down the prejudice of “nothing to do there in this cold!”
Winter in an Ottoman city
Edirne is one of most photogenic cities under the snow: century old stone bridges across the rivers, minaret silhouettes rising behind them, social complexes, people walking around white parks, mysterious mosque courtyards under the dim lights at night… As the flow rates of the rivers increase during the winter months, waters of Meriç and Tunca rivers rambles among the snow. While crossing the Yalnızgöz Bridge built by Mimar Sinan, the Selimiye Mosque with its snow loaded domes and trees rises on one end and II. Bayezid Social Complex on the other. Walking on cobbled stone Lozan Street in Karaağaç, which can be counted among the most romantic roads of Turkey, will show you another perspective of the city under the snow.
Vegetables of Edirne’s marketplace come from Karaağaç, which is located where the city’s greenhouses and orchards are. Karaağaç owes its fertile soil to the Meriç. Crossing the Meriç Bridge, where the marble mansion where the sultan used to watch sunsets is, you arrive to Lozan Street that begins at the end of the bridge. Willows form a white tunnel over your head standing straight on both sides of the street. Lozan Street takes you to Karaağaç. You can take a walk around the streets where the fairy-tales-like houses are located. They used to belong to Italians, Bulgarians, and Ottoman-Greeks that used to live in the city once. They have painted facades, wood engravings, and interesting doors. It is a tradition to gather around the fireplace and roast chestnuts at Fazlı’nın Kahvesi (Fazlı’s Café). Çalgıcılar Kahvesi (Musicians’ Cafe) in the Flea Market which is frequented by Romans and old chief wrestlers are livelier during the winter months when the number of country weddings decrease.
The ruler of the mountains is all alone
One of the civilizations in the fertile lands of Anatolia, Kingdom of Commagene, an important kingdom established in the region including Adıyaman, Kahramanmaraş, and Gaziantep between the years of 162 BC and 72 AD. The most magnificent mausoleum of this period is located at the summit of Mount Nemrut, which is 2,206 meters high in the north-east of Adıyaman’s Kâhta district. King Antiochus I. had a gigantic tumulus, 50 meters high and 150 meters in diameter, built on the summit of Nemrut, on the sacred area and tomb site designated for him. Antiochus combined western and eastern customs, and gods, and placed his own image among these gods. In order to gain a divine qualification, the king, having made sacred monuments on a difficult hilltop, had a 237-line testament engraved on the back of the thrones where the statues of gods sit and wished to rest in peace under the tumulus. The tumulus, which conforms to the natural shape of the hill, is covered with pebbles, not with soil. At the altar, where six nine-meter sculptures are, the sitting position and dormancy of the statues bear the characteristics of eastern art. The heads of the giant sculptures, consisting of eight overlaid stones on top of each other, had fallen over the ground. The embossments besides the western terrace depict the handshake between Antiochus and the gods. Going to Mount Nemrut using the Nemrut National Park direction will give you the chance to see the Karakuş Tumulus, the Cendere Bridge and Arsemia (44 km). As you drive among the magnificent nature of the park in the snow, you feel almost like you are on another planet. Do not miss to see the Cendere Bridge; it is the gift of Commagene to Rome and has been in use for two thousand years.
Istanbul’s most nostalgic, black and white photographs show the Galata Bridge and the Golden Horn. If it is a snowy day, as you pass by the Galata Bridge, the Süleymaniye, and the Golden Horn accompany you. On the shores of Perşembepazarı, stretching between the Unkapanı and Galata bridges, there are restaurants, where you can eat tasty seafood and frequented mostly by shopkeepers, shops, and cafes with footstools that offer life to the calm waters of the Golden Horn.
The bridges over the Golden Horn, an extension of the Bosphorus that separates Europe and Asia, connect the mainland to the historical peninsula. The famous historic Galata Bridge has moved years ago and although it is a half bridge, it lives inside the Golden Horn again. The Golden Horn was once filled with palaces and seaside villas. As we travel along the Golden Horn, there is the Sveti Stefan Church of the Bulgarians, which is unlike any other in Istanbul. This church, which is cast iron, inside and outside, was brought in 1871 from Vienna via the Danube River to Istanbul in pieces and assembled here. From Defterdar to Eyüp, mosques are lined. Many Ottoman pashas and prominent people wanted to be buried in Eyüp. The Eyüp Mosque has a completely different atmosphere with the graveyards behind it.
Going up from the mosque, you reach a hill overlooking the Golden Horn from bird’s-eye view. Pierre Loti, a French naval officer who lived in Eyüp in 1876-1877 and fell in love with a married women named Aziyade, turns his memoirs into a book after leaving İstanbul. When Loti comes back to Turkey after 10 years, learns that Aziyade is dead. Loti sits at the cafes; drinks coffee; smokes hooka; and because Eyüp is his favorite place, he likes to visit one certain cafe, which is called by his name today because he often went there to watch the landscape of the Golden Horn. From here you can walk down or take a cable car passing by the silent cemeteries after drinking your coffee cooked over the charcoal fire as you watch the snowy Golden Horn view.
Beyond the Zigana
The Zigana Pass, which links the Black Sea shores to Anatolia, has always maintained its importance throughout history. The Silk Road caravans that started in China also passed through this route. The Zigana Pass is famous for its hard winter and always comes to mind with its snowy, impassable images. In the past, winters were known for their terrifying legends for the caravans. However, now the Zigana tunnel’s roadsides on the Gümüşhane side are frequently open and provide transportation for ski lovers to the Zigana Gümüş Kayak Yayla Kent. The Zigana Gümüş Kayak Yayla Kent at 2,100 meters of altitude is an important winter destination for the region. At the summit, the mountains and pine forests located at the far end of Gümüşhane are below your feet; on the left, there is a view of Trabzon. The Zigana Gümüş Kayak Yaylakent Hotel which is open all year round is an important base for mountain and highland tourism in the Eastern Black Sea region. The hotel has bungalows some with fireplace and pine forest views. In the direction of Gümüşhane-Erzurum, this hotel at the skirts of the Zigana Mountains at 1,700 of meters altitude also keeps up with nature thanks to its wood bungalows. It is possible to taste the local dishes of the Black Sea at the restaurant. Zigana is full of winter sports alternatives; skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoes walking, trekking…
The city snow suits
It is one of the cities that can best carry the beauty of the winter climate with its wide streets crossing each other, grid-planned, stone houses in magnificent nobility dating from the Russian occupation, creek shores, castles and stone bridges. The nature and climate of Kars is ruthless and hard, but when the streets where the willow trees are lined on both sides are covered with snow, an unquestionably fascinating and mysterious Anatolia emerges. The city, which is the “Eastern Gate” of Anatolia, deserves to be as interesting as the Ani Ruins that many tourists have come to see.
The castle, the symbol of the city, which looks over the Kars Stream from the top for 2 thousand years, gives you the feeling that you are in a movie scene: the streets of the city, the striking Russian buildings, the old Ottoman and Armenian houses, the Church of the Twelve Apostles, the Stone Bridge. Enjoy ice skating on the frozen lake, taste aged Kashar and gruyere cheeses of Kars, eat goose tandoori, drink black tea at a cafe, visit the Ani Ruins, walk down the dim streets of Kars on a snowy night, and watch the vastness of white at Lake Çıldır…
Chasing the marks on the snow
Visiting the Aladağlar with snow-covered peaks of all seasons of the year is among the plans of many trekking and mountain sports enthusiasts. The Aladağlar National Park that forms the largest part of the Taurus is, beyond making winter sports, one of Turkey’s most important wildlife conservation areas with deep passages, dense valleys, glacial lakes, alpine flowers, butterflies, wolves, wild cats, vultures and wild goats in the summits.
The Aladağlar, also known as the Eastern Taurus, takes its name from the red color at sunset. Its summits, which are over 20, are over 3,000 meters high. The highest peak is the Demirkazik at 3,756 meters of altitude, the highest peak of the entire Taurus range. To do trekking in this area, you do not have to be a professional climber. Anyone with a good fitness and walking experience can accomplish this. Snow rafting and snowshoe walking tours are being organized in winter. While ski tours are more for professionals, snowshoe tours are ideal for those who want to enjoy nature while watching nature in a calm ambience. By following the footsteps of the wild animals on the snow, by listening to a wolf’s howl or to the humming of the jungle from time to time, one advances in this magnificent nature, lodges in a village house, and drinks tea in a coffeehouse while listening to the stories told. Walking in the snow is not easy, of course, so an average walk of 3-5 hours a day is done. Despite the center of Niğde, where many tourists do not stop by to see, the Aladağlar, 65 km away, is the city’s biggest attraction. Listen to the cry of the wind in the Sıyırma Valley, enjoy the hot tea on the snow watching the Parmakkaya’s view…
Suits the snow
As we praise the white of snow, Abant and Bolu’s surroundings are indispensable destinations. Read a book in front of a fireplace, wake up to a fresh fine scented mountain air, buy home-made pasta and wild berry jams in Abant, go to the thermal springs of Karacasu, listen to the deep silence of the frozen Gölcük and take plenty of pictures… Choose a time when it snows to see the natural lake on Abant Mountains, The Abant Lake. At the Abant Nature Park, reeds, trees, roads, picnic tables and benches are all covered with snow. On the shores of the lake, which has 7 km of a circumference, you can go for a little romance, a walk or a ride with a phaeton under a blanket.
The water level of the lake rises 25-30 cm in the spring months, sometimes it freezes in the winter months. The area around the lake is covered with a rich natural flora, a variety of trees and forests. There are pine, fir, oak, blackberry, hornbeam, maple trees, and beech forests. The famous Abant trout can only be angled from April to October with a fee. For trekking enthusiasts, there are the Abant-Samandere Pass, the Çiğdem Plateau, the Dogançay Falls and the waterfall regions Samandere-Çiçekliyayla, and Abant-Taşkesti trails.