Rare basalt columns become tourist hub in Turkey
Millions of years old, rare basalt columns in northern Turkey are among the most popular tourist destinations of the culturally-rich country since it opened to visitors last year.
Along the Güzelcehisar beach in the Black Sea Province of Bartın, the columns were formed when lava flowed from volcanos and crystalized as it cooled, creating a stunning landscape with geometric shapes.
The 80-million-year-old site attracted some 200,000 visitors this year, mostly including Arabs, British and Germans as well as domestic tourists, according to Fuat Dursun, the provincial director of culture and tourism.
Güzelcehisar, which has a one-kilometer-long beach, is a unique place with its sea, green areas and sunset, Dursun told the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Noting that their biggest dream is to carry Güzelcehisar basalt columns to the international platform, Dursun said that the columns are different from the others in the world in terms of their formation.
“Basalt columns in the world are horizontal but columns here are both horizontal and vertical,” Dursun said.
“The cooling and crystallization of the lava flowing from the volcanoes formed rectangular, pentagonal and hexagonal-shaped columns that are between 50 and 100 centimeters in diameter and 100 meters in height,” he said, adding that they wanted the world to see this beauty.
On the project realized last year for the promotion of the site, Dursun said the basalt columns were made more tourist-friendly.
“For a better view of the basalt columns, we have built a pier on the sea, walking platform on the island and a viewing terrace under a project carried out with the Bartın University,” he said.
An 850-meter-long and three-meter-wide wooden walking trail was also built, Dursun added.
He added that they expect to host around 400,000 visitors after the other phases of the project are completed.
He also noted that they host Latvian tourists as part of a project and that they are fascinated by the scenery.
Basalt columns are seen in Northern Ireland, Scotland and California in the world, while they are only seen in Bartın in Turkey.
The area was designated as a natural monument by the Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Ministry in 2017.