Last updated
Houses in Caykara.jpg
Houses and a mosque in Çaykara village
Turkey adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 40°44′51″N40°14′31″E / 40.74750°N 40.24194°E / 40.74750; 40.24194 Coordinates: 40°44′51″N40°14′31″E / 40.74750°N 40.24194°E / 40.74750; 40.24194
Country Turkey
Province Trabzon
  MayorHanefi Tok (AKP)
  District573.14 km2 (221.29 sq mi)
 (2012) [2]
  District density23/km2 (60/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Çaykaralı
Climate Cfa

Çaykara (Romeyika: Kadahor) is a town and district of Trabzon Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. As of 2014, the District Mayor of Çaykara is Hanefi Tok (AKP). Çaykara village lies in a V-shaped valley along the Solaklı River in the Pontic Mountains, at an elevation of around 300 metres. Çaykara district lies to the south of Dernekpazarı (Kondu) and forms the upper part of the Of-valley system ('Solaklı Vadisi' in Turkish), with peaks reaching to over 3300 meters. The western half of İkizdere district - which lies just east of Çaykara and is now part of Rize province - was historically also part of the same administrative and cultural region. Large swathes of the district are made up of old-growth temperate broadleaf and mixed forest, gradually making way for alpine tundra at higher altitudes.



The district takes its name from the Çaykara stream, which forms through the conjunction of the Solaklı and Yeşilalan brooks. The historic name of Çaykara is Kadahor or Katokhôr (from Kato Choriou "lower village" in Pontic Greek). [3] As is typical in transhumance communities in the Pontic Mountains and the Caucasus, Kadahor was settled with a number of subordinate upland villages for different seasons, which explains its name. However, in current times the name 'Tsaikara' (Τσαϊκάρα) is also used in Pontic Greek.


Sea of clouds in Caykara district The Sea of Clouds - panoramio.jpg
Sea of clouds in Çaykara district
Uzungol village and lake in Caykara Uzungol, Caykara, Trabzon.JPG
Uzungöl village and lake in Çaykara
Another village in Caykara Village in Caykara district2.jpg
Another village in Çaykara
A traditional house in Caykara House in Caykara.jpg
A traditional house in Çaykara

Current Çaykara district covers the upper parts of the 'Ophis' ('Solaklı' in modern Turkish) river valley, and its tributaries. The river Ophis and a homonymous Greek settlement at its mouth were first mentioned in antiquity by Arrian. A path besides the river functioned as a trade route connecting the coast with eastern Anatolia, through 'Paipert' (current Bayburt). In the Middle Ages, the administrative region (or Bandon) to which the area of Çaykara belonged was known as Stylos. It lay between the bandon of Sourmena and Rhizaion. [4] Settlement of the higher parts of the valley is first attested in the middle-ages, when it was part of the Byzantine Empire. The history of individual villages and towns in the district going back to antiquity is unknown. This may be due to the frequent landslides that occur there, and the limited archeological research which has been conducted. A few place names hint at a possible Chaldian presence in the valley before it was Hellenized, such as the Haldizen (Χάλντιζεν) stream in the southeast of the district and the village 'Halt' (Χάλτ, or Söğütlü in Turkish), downstream in Of-district. It is assumed that Kadahor was one of the original settlements in the area, which may explain its name and function as the central market-town of the upper valley.

According to local oral histories, the valley functioned as an alternative trading route during the late medieval period connecting Trabzon - through the coastal town of Of - to Persia and beyond. At that time the valley was part of the Empire of Trebizond. On a hill overlooking Çaykara town, just west of the village Taşören, Çaykara  [ tr ] (Zeleka), lies a ruined fortress which according to locals was constructed by Genoese traders. The Genoese also held the fortress town of Bayburt - south of Çaykara - which could be reached by the mountain pass near Sakarsu (modern Şekersu). The local dialect of Pontic Greek started to diverge from the Greek spoken in urban centers somewhere between the 12th and the 15th century. Çaykara entered Ottoman rule in 1461, following the Ottoman conquest of the Empire of Trebizond by Sultan Mehmed II. According to Greek historiographers the valleys attracted residents of coastal cities who sought refuge from Ottoman taxation. While the population of the valley at that time was mostly made up of Greek-speaking Christians, the locals did have interactions with nomadic Turkish tribes on the summer pastures.

According to the Ottoman tax books (tahrir defterleri) of 1486, there were 1277 people living in the historic villages that were located within the present-day Çaykara district (namely the villages of Ğorğoras (in Greek: Γοργορά), Holayisa, Paçan and Zeno (in Greek: Ξένος), where there were 235 houses (1 of them inhabited by Muslims, 234 of them by Christians.) [5] During the Ottoman period the valley also housed a small number of Armenians, who had settled there in the villages Fotinos and Harhes after they had been attacked and chased-off from neighboring valleys by a clan leader called İslamoğlu Bey.

According to the Ottoman tax books (tahrir defterleri) of 1681, the inhabitants of the villages of Ğorğoras, Holayisa, Paçan, Zeno, Yente, Haldizen, İpsil (in Greek: Υψηλή), Okene, Sero (Siros), Kadahor, Hopşera, Sarahos (in Greek: Σαχάρω), Fotinos (in Greek: Φωτεινός) and Zeleka had been fully converted to Islam. [5] In 1681, there were 2100 people living in 380 houses, all of them Muslims. [5] The villages in the valley had a well developed educational system; In the late Ottoman period the uplands of Çaykara housed dozens of seminaries, attracting students from across Anatolia. As a result, the region had one of the highest literacy rates in the empire, and many of the inhabitants of the valley registered surnames in the 19th century - well before other Muslim groups in Anatolia. This history of literacy is reflected in the many scientists, politicians, musicians, directors, etc. that came from the sparsely populated villages in the district. At times the valley also attracted small groups of settlers or refugees from other parts of the empire, such as Arabs from Maraş and Circassians from the Caucasus.

In 1915, during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I, Ottoman forces and local guerrillas fought the invading Russian army at the Sultan Murat Plateau (Turkish : Sultan Murat Yaylası 40°40′12″N40°10′13″E / 40.67000°N 40.17028°E / 40.67000; 40.17028 ), a high plateau 25 km (16 mi) southwest of Çaykara's town center. A monumental cemetery for the fallen Ottoman soldiers, named Şehitler Tepesi (Hill of Martyrs) is located there. The Russian army constructed a new road through the valley, connecting it to the Anatolian plateau south of the Pontic Mountains. The road was meant to function as an alternative supply route for the Russian forces in eastern Anatolia, as they were unable to hold the Zigana Pass south of Trabzon. Part of the road is still in use as the D915, which is recognized as one of the most dangerous roads in the world [6] due to its many hairpins without guard rails.

Because of their Islamic identity, the inhabitants of Kadahor/Çaykara were not deported during the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. A few dozen families from the valley that had retained their Christian beliefs chose to resettle in Macedonia, Greece, in the village of Nea Trapezounta (New Trabzon). Many families across the valley retain some contact with relatives in Greece.

Until 1925, Çaykara was a village bound to the Of district within Trabzon Province. In 1925, it became a bucak (subdistrict), and on 1 June 1947 it became an ilçe (district) of Trabzon Province. During the first half of the 20th century the mother tongue of the residents of the district remained the local Of-dialect of Pontic Greek (colloquially called 'Romeyka', or 'Rumca' in Turkish). Up until the first decade of the 21st century there were many elderly women who were monolingual in Romeyka. All of the permanently settled villages in the district were officially renamed in the 1960s. However, except for Çaykara and Uzungöl - which are the places where the community interacts with the state - these new Turkish names have not caught on. Local toponyms of Greek, Chaldian and Armenian origin such as the names of seasonal settlements, streams, hills and mountains remain in use. Only in the second half of the 20th century did the prevalence of 'Romeyka' start to dwindle among the younger generations.

Through a series of state-sponsored programs from the 1940s to the 1970s thousands of residents of Çaykara villages were offered resettlement in other parts of the Turkish Republic and Cyprus. Çaykarali's were settled in Van's Özalp district on the Iranian border (in the village of 'Emek'), in the city Kırıkhan on the Syrian border, in the villages Davlos, Flamoudi and Trikomo in Northern Cyprus, and in Muş province. There is also a settlement of people from Çaykara on the island Imbros, adjacent the Greek village Dereköy. These resettlements and subsequent migrations within and outside Turkey resulted in a stark decline of the population of the district - from around 40.000 people to just above 12.000. While some migrants were able to retain the use of Romeyka due to geographic isolation (those in Van) or contact with local Greek populations (those on Imbros and Cyprus), the use of the language in Çaykara district itself declined. It remains unclear if the linguistic background of the villages was a reason for the government-initiated programmes. [7] [8]


Alithinos (Uzuntarla) village, with steep crop fields in front. Uzuntarla Koyu Ahmaklidan - panoramio.jpg
Alithinos (Uzuntarla) village, with steep crop fields in front.
'Dry stone' walls to keep cattle out at Tsaxmut plateau (Cahmud yaylasi). Cahmud yayla.JPG
'Dry stone' walls to keep cattle out at Tsaxmut plateau (Cahmud yaylası).


The mother tongue of most inhabitants of the district above the age of 50 is the Of-dialect of Pontic Greek, Romeyka (i.e. 'language of the Romans'), which has been described as the living language closest to Ancient Greek. [9] Due to the community's isolation the dialect retained many archaisms. The language is not taught outside the home, and for a long time it was discouraged to speak it at school. Still, some of the younger generation continue to speak the language, and many have at least a basic understanding of it. The Turkish Latin alphabet is used for communication on online platforms. There are about two dozen Grecophone villages in the district, making it the largest concentration of Greek speakers in the Turkish Republic. While locals generally don't like being addressed as Greek, they are proud of their linguistic heritage, which they use to communicate with Greek-speaking tourists. [10] Inhabitants from Of and Çaykara also settled villages in neighboring Sürmene and Köprübaşı districts, a little further to the west. Thus there are also some pockets of Çaykara/Of-dialect Greek speaking villages in these other parts of Trabzon province. That the Of-dialect of Pontic Greek remained so virulent in this area is partly due to the fact that local imams educated and preached in this language until the second part of the 20th century. Many folk singers from the district have recorded songs in Romeyka. Native of Çaykara Vahit Tursun published a Turkish-Romeyka dictionary in 2019. [11] Most residents of the district are also fluent in Turkish. The most popular musical instruments in the district are the kaval flute, and the kemençe violin.


Many of the permanent residents of the district still live a life of transhumance, migrating with their cattle between two or three different settlements belonging to the same village; An agricultural settlement near the bottom of the valley, a logging village halfway up the mountain, and a hamlet on the summer grazing land above the tree line ('parharia' or 'yayla'). Most chalets on the yayla have their own dry stone-enclosed private field, but also share a larger enclosed meadow. The spatial structure and the ratio of public to private space differs widely between the yayla's, while there are some recurring patterns. Some of the hamlets have a strong egalitarian and communal structure, with all houses having just a small private garden of approximately the same size. In a few cases there are no private gardens at all. Other hamlets are made up of multiple generational kinship clusters, with each generation adding increasingly larger fields to their cluster. There are, however, also yayla's with a more individualistic spatial organisation. Cows roam freely on the yayla, seeking out the best alpine flowers. During the summer months herders guide their sheep through the mountains. On Tuesdays villagers head down to the local market at Çaykara town. In some villages the 'old new year' of the Julian calendar is celebrated on January 14 (called 'Kalandar'). Villagers dressed as folk characters go door to door making jokes and collecting food or supplies for a shared meal or other communal activity.


In recent years the valley has become a major tourist attraction. During the summer months Lake Uzungöl attracts thousands of tourists on a daily basis. Especially in the vicinity of the lake dozens of small and medium-sized hotels have been built - often without a permit - leading to conflict with authorities. In 2019 the eclectic Uzungöl Dursun Ali İnan Museum was opened just east of the lake, showcasing objects relating to the history, culture, nature and geography of the district, as well as a large collection of tree root and trunk art. [12] [13] According to some researchers the state has used tourism as an instrument to subvert local culture through the 'festivalisation' of the celebrations related to the agricultural calendar and the transhumance landscapes. [14] [15]


Section of an 1877 map showing the original names of towns and villages in Of and Caykara (Katokhor) Of 1877.jpg
Section of an 1877 map showing the original names of towns and villages in Of and Çaykara (Katokhôr)

Within Çaykara district there are about 30 villages which are more or less permanently settled. These villages are listed north to south, with their Turkish and Greek names. In most cases these villages also have or share a distinct logging settlement, a lower communal pasture (called a 'kom' in Romeyka, 'mezire' in Turkish), and a hamlet on the high summer pasture ('parharia' or 'megalo kampos' in Romeyka, 'yayla' in Turkish). These smaller seasonally occupied places are not listed here.

The mosque of Zeleka (Tasoren) in 2010, just after it had been restored, and just before it burned down. Currently (2018), the mosque has been restored again. Restored Tasoren Mosque.jpg
The mosque of Zeleka (Taşören) in 2010, just after it had been restored, and just before it burned down. Currently (2018), the mosque has been restored again.


The summer settlement of Gorgoras (Egridere) at Ligoras ('Wolf-mountain'), or in Turkish: Kurt Dagi. Vilage near Caykara, Trabzon.jpg
The summer settlement of Ğorğoras (Eğridere) at Ligoras ('Wolf-mountain'), or in Turkish: Kurt Daği.
A view at Sultan Murat Yayla -nature -turkey -trabzon -uzongol -beauty -sky -sultan -cloud (14272521123).jpg
A view at Sultan Murat Yayla


In the upper parts of Çaykara district there are six distinct yaylas (summer pastures), each with multiple hamlets. The most famous one of these is Sultan Murat Yaylası, which is shared by the hamlets Sıcakoba, Hanırmak, Şahinkaya, Eğrisu, Vartan and Cerah.

Notable residents

See also

Related Research Articles

Trabzon Metropolitan municipality in Turkey

Trabzon, historically known as Trebizond in English, is a city on the Black Sea coast of northeastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Persia in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast. The Venetian and Genoese merchants paid visits to Trabzon during the medieval period and sold silk, linen and woolen fabric. Both republics had merchant colonies within the city – Leonkastron and the former "Venetian castle" – that played a role to Trabzon similar to the one Galata played to Constantinople. Trabzon formed the basis of several states in its long history and was the capital city of the Empire of Trebizond between 1204 and 1461. During the early modern period, Trabzon, because of the importance of its port, again became a focal point of trade to Persia and the Caucasus.

Transhumance Type of pastoralism

Transhumance is a type of pastoralism or nomadism, a seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions, it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Generally only the herds travel, with a certain number of people necessary to tend them, while the main population stays at the base. In contrast, horizontal transhumance is more susceptible to being disrupted by climatic, economic, or political change.

Rize Province Province of Turkey

Rize Province is a province of northeast Turkey, on the eastern Black Sea coast between Trabzon and Artvin. The province of Erzurum is to the south. It was formerly known as Lazistan, the designation of the term of Lazistan was officially banned in 1926, by patriots. The province is home to Laz, Hemshin, Turkish people and Georgian communities. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spent his early childhood in Rize, where his father was a member of the Turkish Coast Guard, and from which both of Erdogan's parents come from.

Trabzon Province Province of Turkey

Trabzon Province is a province of Turkey on the Black Sea coast. Located in a strategically important region, Trabzon is one of the oldest trade port cities in Anatolia. Neighbouring provinces are Giresun to the west, Gümüşhane to the southwest, Bayburt to the southeast and Rize to the east.İsmail Ustaoğlu was appointed the Governor of the province in October 2018.

Pontic Greek is a variety of Modern Greek originally spoken in the Pontus area on the southern shores of the Black Sea, northeastern Anatolia, the Eastern Turkish/Caucasus province of Kars, southern Georgia and today mainly in northern Greece. Its speakers are referred to as Pontic Greeks or Pontian Greeks.

Lazistan Sanjak

Lazistan was the Ottoman administrative name for the sanjak, under Trebizond Vilayet, comprising the Laz or Lazuri-speaking population on the southeastern shore of the Black Sea. It covered modern day easternmost Trabzon, the land of contemporary Rize Province and the littoral of contemporary Artvin Province.

Pontic Greeks

The Pontic Greeks are an ethnically Greek group who traditionally lived in the region of Pontus, on the shores of the Black Sea and in the Pontic Mountains of northeastern Anatolia. Many later migrated to other parts of Eastern Anatolia, to the former Russian province of Kars Oblast in the Transcaucasus, and to Georgia in various waves between the Ottoman conquest of the Empire of Trebizond in 1461 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829. Those from southern Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea are often referred to as "Northern Pontic [Greeks]", in contrast to those from "South Pontus", which strictly speaking is Pontus proper. Those from Georgia, northeastern Anatolia, and the former Russian Caucasus are in contemporary Greek academic circles often referred to as "Eastern Pontic [Greeks]" or as Caucasian Greeks, but also include the Turkic-speaking Urums.


Uzungöl, or in the local Romeyka language: Şeraho, is a lake situated to the south of the city of Trabzon, in the Çaykara district of Trabzon Province, Turkey. Uzungöl is also the name of the village on the lake's coast. Over the years, the picturesque lake, its village and the surrounding valley have become popular tourist attractions. The lake is at a distance of 99 km from Trabzon's city center, and 19 km from Çaykara's district center. It was formed by a landslide, which transformed the stream bed into a natural dam, in the valley of the Haldizen Stream.

Greek Muslims Ethnic group

Greek Muslims, also known as Grecophone Muslims, are Muslims of Greek ethnic origin whose adoption of Islam dates to the period of Ottoman rule in the southern Balkans. They consist primarily of the descendants of the elite Ottoman Janissary corps and Ottoman-era converts to Islam from Greek Macedonia, Crete, and northeastern Anatolia and the Pontic Alps. They are currently found mainly in the west of Turkey and the northeast.

Gümüşhane Municipality in Turkey

Gümüşhane or Gyumushkhana is a city and the capital district of Gümüşhane Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. The city lies along the Harşit River, at an elevation of 5,000 feet (1,500 m), about 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Trabzon. According to the 2010 census, population of Gümüşhane urban center is 28,620. The district covers an area of 1,789 km2 (691 sq mi), and the city lies at an elevation of 1,153 m (3,783 ft). Coordinates on world : 40°27′35″N 39°28′40″E

Görele Town in Black Sea, Turkey

Görele is a town and a district of Giresun Province on the Black Sea coast of eastern Turkey. The population was 16,033 in 2010.

Çine Place in Aydın, Turkey

Çine is a town and a district of Aydın Province, in the Aegean region of Turkey, 38 km (24 mi) from the city of Aydın, on the road to Muğla.

Maçka Place in Trabzon, Turkey

Maçka is a town and district of Trabzon Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. The name derives from the medieval Greek Matzouka, which was one of the provinces of the Empire of Trebizond. In Ottoman times, the area formed the nahiye of Maçuka.

Dernekpazarı Place in Trabzon, Turkey

Dernekpazarı is a district of Trabzon Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey.The old name of the town was Kondu and the current mayor of the town is Mehmet Aşık (AKP). Dernekpazarı is part of the Of-valley system ; it lies between the coastal Of district and the alpine Çaykara district.

Of, Turkey District in Black Sea, Turkey

Of is a town and district of Trabzon Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It is located in the eastern part of Trabzon and is an important historical district of the province. The mayor is Salim Salih Sarıalioğlu (AKP).

Black Sea Region Region of Turkey

The Black Sea Region is a geographical region of Turkey.

Gülbahar Hatun (wife of Bayezid II) Wife of Sultan Bayezid II

Gülbahar Hatun, also known as Ayşe Hatun was a consort of Sultan Bayezid II and the mother of Sultan Selim I of the Ottoman Empire and the grandmother of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

Phrontisterion of Trapezous School in Trabzon , Ottoman Empire

The Phrontisterion of Trapezous was a Greek educational institution that operated from 1682/3 to 1921 in Trabzon, in the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey. It provided a major impetus for the rapid expansion of Greek education throughout the Pontus region, on the south coast of the Black Sea. The building still retains its function as a prestigious highschool, and it has been considered as the most impressive Pontic Greek monument in Trabzon.

Nea Trapezounta, Pieria Place in Greece

Nea Trapezounta is a village and a community of the Katerini municipality. Before the 2011 local government reform it was part of the municipality of Korinos, of which it was a municipal district. The 2011 census recorded 423 residents in the village. The community of Nea Trapezounta covers an area of 6.547 km2.


  1. "Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  2. "Population of province/district centers and towns/villages by districts - 2012". Address Based Population Registration System (ABPRS) Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  3. Karadeniz Ansiklopedik Sözlük: "Kadahor", by Özkan Öztürk. Istanbul, 2005.
  4. Winfield, A. B. D. - The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of The Pontos, vol. I, p. 323-324, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1985, Washington DC.
  5. 1 2 3 History of Çaykara
  6. For daring drivers only: the world’s scariest roads Yahoo Travel, 24 April 2015
  7. Uzungöl’s long story (tr) Karar - 27 july 2019
  8. 'The settlers in occupied Davlos speak Greek' (gr) Politis.com - 13 march 2018
  9. Against all odds: archaic Greek in a modern world Cambridge Group for Endangered Languages and Cultures, 1 July 2010
  10. Schreiber, L. (2015). Assessing sociolinguistic vitality: an attitudinal study of Rumca (Romeyka) (Doctoral dissertation, Thesis). Free University of Berlin.
  11. Turkish researcher publishes dictionary of endangered Greek language used in Trabzon Daily Sabah, 26 july 2019
  12. Trabzon museum to display goods made from tree roots Daily Sabah, 13 November 2018
  13. Uzungöl Dursun Ali İnan Museum (tr) Kuzey Ekspres, 15 September 2019
  14. Of Conspiracies and Men: The Politics of Evil in Turkey Murat Altun (2016) Dissertation, University of Minnesota
  15. Elias, N. (2016). This is not a Festival. Transhumance-Based Economies on Turkey's Upland Pastures. Nomadic Peoples, 20(2), 265-286.

Further reading