Where to Visit in Trabzon
Trabzon,is a city on the Black Sea coast of northeastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Persia in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast. The Venetian and Genoese merchants paid visits to Trabzon during the medieval period and sold silk, linen and woolen fabric. Both republics had merchant colonies within the city – Leonkastron and the former “Venetian castle” – that played a role to Trabzon similar to the one Galata played to Constantinople (modern Istanbul). Trabzon formed the basis of several states in its long history and was the capital city of the Empire of Trebizond between 1204 and 1461. During the early modern period, Trabzon, because of the importance of its port, again became a focal point of trade to Persia and the Caucasus.
Trabzon Province has a total area of 4,685 square kilometres (1,809 sq mi) and is bordered by the provinces of Rize, Giresun and Gümüşhane. The total area is 22.4% plateau and 77.6% hills. The Pontic Mountains pass through the Trabzon Province. Trabzon used to be an important reference point for navigators in the Black Sea during harsh weather conditions. The popular expression “perdere la Trebisonda” (losing Trebizond) is still commonly used in the Italian language to describe situations in which the sense of direction is lost. The Italian maritime republics such as Venice and in particular Genoa were active in the Black Sea trade for centuries. Trabzon has four lakes: Uzungöl, Çakırgöl, Sera and Haldizen Lakes. There are several streams, but no rivers in Trabzon.
Folk dancing is still very much in evidence in the Black Sea region. The “Horon” is a famous dance that is indigenous to the city and its surrounding area. It is performed by men, women, the young and elderly alike; in festivities, local weddings and harvest times. While similar to Russian Cossack dances in terms of vividness, the Trabzon folk dance is probably indigenous to the eastern Black Sea region, which has an impressive variety of folk music.
The people of Trabzon have a reputation for being religiously conservative and nationalist. Many Trabzonites generally show a strong sense of loyalty to their family, friends, religion and country. Atatürk selected his presidential guards from Trabzon and the neighbouring city of Giresun because of their fierce fighting ability and their loyalty.
Outside of the relatively urban space of Trabzon proper, and within parts of it as well, rural traditions from the Black Sea village life are still thriving. These include traditional gender roles, social conservatism, hospitality, and a willingness to help strangers; and all aspects, both positive and negative, of an agrarian lifestyle, such as hard work, poverty, strong family ties, and a closeness to nature. The people of the eastern Black Sea region are also known for their wit and sense of humour; many jokes in Turkey are told about the natives of the Black Sea region Karadeniz fıkraları (Black Sea jokes). The character Temel, a universal buffoon figure found in many cultures, forms an important part of the Turkish oral tradition. The city’s profile was raised somewhat in the English-speaking world by Dame Rose Macaulay’s last novel, The Towers of Trebizond (1956), which is still in print.
Trabzon has a number of tourist attractions, some of them dating back to the times of the ancient empires that once existed in the region. In the city itself, one can find a hub of shops, stalls and restaurants surrounding the Meydan, a square in the center of the city, which includes a tea garden. The Hagia Sophia (formerly Turkish: Ayasofya Müzesi, now a mosque), a stunning Byzantine church, is probably the town’s most important tourist attraction. Trabzon Castle ruins are visible in the town but cannot be visited as they fall in a military zone. The outside wall of the castle now serves as the back wall of a military building. The “Atatürk Köşkü” is a villa built in 1890 by a local Greek merchant. In 1924 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stayed in the villa during his visit to Trabzon. He stayed there again in 1937. It houses period rooms and serves as a monument to the memory of the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. Boztepe Park is a small park and tea garden on the hills above Trabzon that has a panoramic view of nearly the entire city. The terrain in Trabzon is ascending in such a way that although the view is far above that of the buildings below, it is still close enough to be able to observe the flow of traffic and the people moving about in the city. Uzun Sokak is one of the most crowded streets of Trabzon. Trabzon Museum is located in the town centre and offers interesting exhibits on the history of the region, including an impressive collection of Byzantine artifacts. Trabzon’s Bazaar District offers interesting shopping opportunities on ancient narrow streets, continuing from Kunduracılar Street from the Meydan (town square). Saint Anne Church, Trabzon is located in the city centre of Trabzon, and one of the oldest in the city. Kostaki Mansion is located to the north of Zeytinlik near Uzun Sokak. Uzungöl Dursun Ali İnan Museum An ethnographic museum in Uzungol that tells the history of Trabzon and the region. Other sites of the city include: Fatih Mosque (originally the Panagia Khrysokephalos Church), Yeni Cuma Mosque (originally the Agios Eugenios Church), Nakip Mosque (originally the Agios Andreas Church), Hüsnü Köktuğ Mosque (originally the Agios Elevtherios Church), İskender Pasha Mosque, Semerciler Mosque, Çarşı Mosque, Gülbahar Hatun Mosque and Türbe (commissioned by Sultan Selim I), Kalepark (originally Leonkastron). Within Trabzon Province, the main attractions are the Sümela Monastery (i. e. the Monastery of the Panagia Soumelá) and the Uzungöl lake. The monastery is built on the side of a very steep mountain overlooking the green forests below and is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of the city. Uzungöl is known for its natural environment and scenery. Other sites of interest in the broader region include: Kaymaklı Monastery, a formerly Armenian Monastery of the All-Saviour. Kızlar Monastery of Panagia Theoskepastos (the God-veiled Virgin), Kuştul Monastery of Gregorios Peristereotas (gr. Ιερά Μονή του Αγίου Γεωργίου Περιστερεώτα, Ierá Moní tou Agíou Georgíou Peristereóta), Vazelon Monastery of Agios Savvas (Maşatlık), Cave churches of Agia Anna (Little Ayvasıl), Sotha (St. John), Agios Theodoros, Agios Konstantinos, Agios Christophoros, Agia Kyriakí, Agios Michail and Panagia Tzita churches.