The Eastern Black Sea on the Marmara: MAŞUKİYE
Being in nature, filling your lungs with mountain air, walking around and picnicking, horseback riding, tasting the trout from mountain waters, having a delicious breakfast by the stream, eating fruit in orchards, and buying village sourdough bread are all waiting for you in Maşukiye. 20 km away from İzmit and 120 km away from İstanbul, this scenic district in anchored by Lake Sapanca in the north and Kartepe and Samanlı Mountains to the south. Owing to its accessibility and natural scenic beauty, Maşukiye is a favorite amongst daytrippers as well as those needing city escape.
Maşukiye is a town in the Kartepe district, has a population of around 10,000. Known for its heavenly nature and cuisine, Maşukiye is also known as Âşıklar Köyü (Village of Lovers). Formerly known as Voçbe Hable, in 1864, after the end of the Caucasian-Russian War, the Circassians who had been living in the coastal region of the Caucasus settled here. After going for a stroll in this lovely town, set out for the Maşukiye Valley and start the day with a fine breakfast at one of the restaurants by the stream. Here, products from surrounding villages are used for breakfasts; enjoy the bounties of nature under the sun. The sujuk casserole is especially amazing. You’ll surprise yourself when you find that you can easily eat all that’s laid before you on the table. But don’t worry! There is a lot to do in Maşukiye to burn off calories.
First, go for a walk along Aygır Stream. There are walking trails of easy and medium levels of difficulty. Aygır Stream springs from the top of Kartepe and flows into Lake Sapanca after a 15 km journey. At the end of the trail, a little waterfall appears before you; don’t consider reaching the waterfall, the path is quite unsafe.
There are pastures each more beautiful than the other, and are perfect for a walk or picnic. The tablelands of Çiğdem, Soğucak, Sultanpınar and İnönü near Sapanca are all beautiful; the most visited are of Kirazlı and Kuzu. If you go to Maşukiye for peace and solitude, Kirazlı would be a great first choice. The only thing breaks the silence would be the bird that call from the beech, hornbeam, lime and pine trees. Colorful flowers and Lake Sapanca views line the 10-kn-long walking path. Kirazli has loads of ideal picnic spots that afford terrific views of Lake Sapance as well as the Gulf of Izmit.Another picnic site is Tahtalı Göleti. If you go for a walk around there, you will see newly discovered historical ruins. During your visit to Maşukiye, we recommend you seeing Kartepe, Derbent and Lake Sapanca.
If you visit Maşukiye during the summer, you must see the orchards. Maşukiye is especially famous for its apples and cherries. You’ll be immediately transported back to your childhood, and to the smell and taste of fruit just plucked from the tree.
Those looking for alternative activities will find lots of options in Maşukiye and around. Paintball, quad bike tours, horseback riding, biking, water-skiing, canoeing, fishing and paragliding are some choices. All this physical activity and fresh air is sure to make you hungry again quickly. This time, I recommend the baked trout casserole, with butter, mushrooms and melted cheese.at one of the restaurants by the stream. The trout of the region is really one of the most delicious in Turkey. They come from the small lakes in Keltepe forests and this is why the flesh of the trout is firm and delicious.
In addition to wild trout, trout farming is also found here, the largest being Mersu Trout.The trout are farmed in special, concrete pools to keep them from the smell of the dirt and are sent alive to the restaurants around. This trout is as fresh as can be. The use of natural products from the surrounding villages for the meals and cooking them on the wood ovens using oak and hornbeam wood give extra flavor to the meals. I recommend buying Circassian smoked cheese, village sourdough bread, local organic fruit as well as a bottle of clean mountain water before going back home.
As the “Land of Lovers,” Maşukiye fascinates its visitors with its colorful flora, natural food and recreational activities, each season has a distinct beauty. Don’t forget to come with a camera and a pair of sneakers.
Write: Senem Tongar Photo: Servet Sezgin