Where to Visit in Tokat

Tokat is the capital city of Tokat Province of Turkey in the mid-Black Sea region of Anatolia. It is located at the confluence of the Tokat River (Tokat Suyu) with the Yeşilırmak. In the 2018 census, the city of Tokat had a population of 155,000.

The city was established in the Hittite era. During the time of King Mithradates VI of Pontus, it was one of his many strongholds in Asia Minor. Known as Evdokia or Eudoxia, ecclesiastically it was later incorporated into the western part of the Byzantine Greek Empire of Trebizond. Some authors like Guillaume de Jerphanion and William Mitchell Ramsay identified Tokat with the ancient and medieval Dazimon, with Ramsay saying, “Dazimon, which seems to have been a fortress, must have been the modern Tokat, with its strong castle.


Henri Grégoire, on the other hand, refuted this as implausible, because a 13th-century text written by Ibn Bibi clearly distinguishes Dazimon and Tokat as separate places. Instead, he said, Tokat should be identified with the town of Dokeia  mentioned in another 10th-century text, by Theophanes Continuatus, which says that the Byzantine general John Kourkouas was born in a village near Dokeia sometime in the 9th century. According to Grégoire, the name “Dokeia” does not have a Greek etymology and probably represents an old Anatolian place name. The supposed derivation from “Eudokia”, he claimed, is only a folk etymology that came much later.

After the Battle of Manzikert the town, like most of Asia Minor, came under the control of the Seljuk Turks. After the death of Sultan Suleiman ibn Qutulmish in 1086, the Emir Danishmend Gazi took control of the area, operating from his power base in the town of Sivas. It would be many decades before the Seljuks re-took control of that region, in the reign of Kilij Arslan II. After the Battle of Köse Dağ, Seljuk hold over the region was lost, and local Emirs such as the Eretna took power until the rise of the Ottomans, who captured the town in 1392. Prior to WWI, Tokat had 40,000 residents of which included 15,000 Armenians, 1,000 Greeks, and a small number of Jews.

Tokat has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, or alternatively a continental climate. Due to the relatively high altitude and inland location, winters are fairly cold with average lows below the freezing point and significant snowfall.

Tokat Gaziosmanpaşa University is one of Turkey’s newer tertiary institutions, founded in 1992. It was named after the local hero Gazi Osman Paşa. Football is the most popular sport: in the older districts above the city center children often kick balls around in the evenings in the smallest streets. The city’s football club is Tokatspor, which plays its games at the Tokat Gaziosmanpaşa Stadium. Basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, cable skiing (in summer), horse riding, go karting, paintballing, martial arts and many other sports are played. Cycling and jogging are only common along the sea front, where recreational fishing is also popular.

Foods distinctive to Tokat include Tokat kebabı and Zile pekmezi, the latter being served in a wooden pot. Tokat kebabı consists of sliced lamb, aubergines, potatoes, green bell peppers and tomatoes. The slices are laid on their sides in rows in a dish and baked with cloves of garlic. Zile pekmezi is a grape-molasses confection, prepared from a variety of small green grapes, which are pressed (traditionally by foot but nowadays by machine) and then evaporated to a thick syrup by boiling. Egg-whites are then beaten into the syrup until it forms a pale marshmallow-like paste. It is sold commercially in tubs.

The most important landmark is Tokat Castle, an Ottoman citadel with 28 towers on a rocky hill overlooking the town. Vlad the Impaler, who may have inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional character Count Dracula, was imprisoned in one of its dungeons. Other sights include the remains of several Greek Orthodox churches and a cathedral, the Garipler Mosque dating to the 12th century, the Ali Paşa Mosque (16th century), the Hatuniye Külliyesi, also 16th century and the Gök Medrese (Pervane Bey Darussifasi), which was constructed in 1270. It was founded as a school of theology, and was converted into a museum, housing archaeological finds from the area, until that function was transferred in 2012 to another location. The Latifoglu  Konak, a late 18th-century Ottoman residence, is an example of Baroque architecture. The two-story building has been restored and has been converted into a small museum. Much of the furniture in the kitchen, study, visitors’ rooms with bath and toilet, bedroom, master’s room, and harem is original. Ballıca Cave is a small cave situated at 6 km (3.8 mi) southeast of Pazar, Tokat Province.

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