Zonguldak is a port on the Black Sea in the Western Karadeniz Region of Turkey. It's a grubby industrial place, mining and exporting coal, with a population of 103,417 in 2020.
Turkey has little coal, oil or gas of its own, and its villages traditionally dwelt in a fug of wood-smoke — or of dry dung fumes when all else failed, which was often the case in the arid, tree-scarce interior. Its reserves were mostly lignite, "brown coal", poor polluting stuff, but in the mid 19th century "hard coal" was discovered in the Zonguldak region. This is what you need to make coke, for steel and glass furnaces, and it could also power the engines of the Ottoman navy. Zonguldak burgeoned into a dusty grubby port, exporting the coal across the Black Sea to mostly domestic markets. (One suggestion for the origin of its name is "Zone Geul-Dagh", a French garbling of Göldağı the mountain above.) The city also made cement and steel. And it manufactured lung disease in industrial quantities, since the natural response of a miner or foundry worker released from his shift into the fresh air is to smoke furiously.
Self-sufficiency trumped environmental concerns throughout the 20th century, but the coalfield is nearing the end of its life, and is of inferior quality to imports. Zonguldak is thus degenerating into a post-industrial brownfield landscape of conveyors, hoppers and railway tracks. You can easily get away into the lush mountains, but it will help if you have an abiding interest in the late-stage coal industry.
Get in Edit
1 Otogar the main bus station is by the port. Ferries to this and other Black Sea ports no longer sail.
Zonguldak remains cut off from the national railway network. The north part of the line was restored in 2021, and a regional train trundles four times a day from Karabük, taking 3 hours via Gökçebey, Çaycuma and thirty other little places you've never heard of. Another four trains run part-route on the Gökçebey-Zonguldak section. The south part from Ankara to Karabük might resume once the high-speed railway works around Irmak are complete, who knows.
The 2 railway station is 500 m south of town centre.
Zonguldak Çaycuma Airport (ONQ IATA) 30 km east has no scheduled passenger flights.
Get around Edit
Dolmuşes ply the coast road east to Kilimli and west to Kozlu.
The inland streets are steep, with flights of steps on the side-walks. Alleys following the contour are often rooftops of the houses in the alley below.
- Harbour breakwater has nice views of town and along the rugged coast.
- Old Mosque (Ulu Cami) of 1901 and New Mosque (Yeni Cami) of 1948 are east bank of the creek just above the harbour.
- 1 Three concrete towers on a brownfield site are all that remains of what was once a busy coal-handling complex. Not pretty, but real history generally isn't.
- Uzun Mehmet Mosque, opened in 2021, is the grand building facing the bus station across the coast highway.
- 2 Varagele Tunnel was built to transport coal but has been turned into an atmospheric pedestrian tunnel. It's sometimes trash-strewn.
- 3 Mining Museum, Dağyolu Sk, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:30. Interesting museum of the area's mining history. You descend from the exhibition area into the seam. Free.
- 4 Karaelmas Mine Martyrs Museum (Karaelmas Maden Şehitleri Müzesi), Poyraz Sk 3. Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Another take on mining history. Free.
- 5 Gökgöl Caves are decorated show caves, open Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, 15 TL.
- 6 Harmankaya waterfalls have six main and four minor cascades, best viewed after rainfall.
- Football: Zonguldak Kömürspor play soccer in TFF Second League, the country's third tier. Their home ground Kemal Köksal Stadium (capacity 13,800) is 500 m east of the harbour.
- Emka Aqua Park and Macera Adası funfair are on Kozlu beach 4 km west of city centre.
- Lots of supermarkets, the main chains are Migros, Akbal and Şok.
- Banks and ATMs are around the old and new mosques near the harbour.
- Harbour area has Meydan[dead link], Berat Cafe, Ocak Basi Durumcusu, TTK Memurla, Kilise, Fener, Yaman and Üst Cemiyet.
- Harbour area has Merhaba, Deniz Klubu and Pergole micro-brewery.
- Staron Otel, Acılık Cd 27 (200 m north of railway station), ☏ . Clean comfy place, central. B&B double 500 TL.
- Mer Hotel, Uzun Mehmet Cd 5 (by harbour), ☏ . Simple but comfy mid-town hotel. B&B double 450 TL.
- 1 Dedeman, Milli Egemenlik Cd 128, ☏ . Great slab of a chain hotel by the university, well-run. B&B double 1200 TL.
Zonguldak and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of July 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next Edit
- Akçakoca is a seaside resort one hour bus ride away from Zonguldak in the west.
- Safranbolu is a nearby town inland to southeast, noted for its preserved traditional architecture and is in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Amasra is a historical town on the Black Sea coast to the east.
|Routes through Zonguldak|
|END at (S) ← Akçakoca ←||W E||→ Amasra → Samsun|
|END at ←||N S||→ Junction (E) → Junction (W / E) → Ankara|