By Selim Bostanci
BARTIN, Turkey (AA) - Millions of years old rare basalt columns in northern Turkey is among the most popular tourist destinations of the culturally-rich country since it opened to visitors last year.
Along the Guzelcehisar beach in Bartin province on the Black Sea coast, 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.
Guzelcehisar, which has a one-kilometer-long beach, is a unique place with its sea, green areas and sunset, Dursun told Anadolu Agency.
Mentioning their biggest aim as carrying Guzelcehisar basalt columns to the international platform, Dursun said that the columns differentiates from others in the world for the direction of the formation.
“Basalt columns in the world are horizontal but columns here are both horizontal and vertical,” Dursun highlighted.
“The cooling and crystallization of the lava flowing from the volcanoes formed of rectangular, pentagonal and hexagonal-shaped columns that are between 50 and 100 centimeters [reaching 40 inches] in diameter and 100 meters [328 feet] 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 available for visiting.
“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 Bartin University,” he said.
A 850-meter-long (2,788 feet) and 3-meter-wide (10 feet) wooden walking trail was also built, Dursun added.
He added that they aim for around 400,000 visitors after the other phases of the project are completed.
Alptekin Yilmaz, one of the visitors, said that he was excited to see basalt columns in Turkey which is a very rare natural phenomenon.
“Here is so good as nature. We come here to rest whenever we find a chance,” Yilmaz said.
He also noted that they host Latvian tourists as part of a project and 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 Bartin in Turkey.
The area was designated as a natural monument by the Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Ministry in 2017.
*Writing by Sena Guler