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For the Ottoman Province of Trabzon, see Vilayet of Trabzon.
Trabzon is located in Turkey
Location of Trabzon within Turkey.
Coordinates: 41°00′N 39°44′E / 41°N 39.733°E / 41; 39.733
Country  Turkey
Province Trabzon
 - Mayor Orhan Fevzi Gümrükçüoğlu(AK Party)
 - Total 4,685 km2 (1,808.9 sq mi)
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2009)
 - Total 230,399
 Density 58.7/km2 (152/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 61xxx
Area code(s) (+90) 462
Licence plate 61

Trabzon (Georgian: ტრაპიზონი, Greek: Τραπεζούντα), historically known as Trapezus and Trebizond, is a city on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern 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 Iran in the southeast, Russia and the Caucasus to the northeast.[1] The Venetian and Genoese merchants paid visits to the city and sold silk, linen and woolen fabric. During the Ottoman period, Trabzon, because of the importance of its port, became a focal point of trade to Iran, India and the Caucasus. Trabzon formed the basis of several states in its long history, and was the capital city of the Empire of Trebizond. The population of the city is 230,399 (2009 census).




Ancient and Mediaeval

Originally, it was founded as Trapezus (Τραπεζοῦς) by Greek traders from Miletus (traditionally in 756 BC).

The city was one of a number (about ten) of Milesian emporia, or trading colonies along the shores of the Black Sea. Others include Sinope, Abydos and Cyzicus (in the Dardanelles). Like most Greek colonies, the city was a small enclave of Greek life, and not an empire unto its own, in the later European sense of the word. Early banking (money-changing) activity is suggested occurring in the city according to a silver drachm coin from Trapezus in the British Museum, London.

Trebizond's trade partners included the Mossynoeci. When Xenophon and the "ten thousand" Greek mercenaries were fighting their way out of Persia, the first Greek city they reached was Trebizond (Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.5.10). The city and the local Mossynoeci had become estranged from the Mossynoecian capital, to the point of civil war. Xenophon's force resolved this in the rebels' favor, and so in Trebizond's interest.

Trapezus coin of 4th century BC in the British Museum

The city was added to the kingdom of Pontus by Mithridates VI Eupator and it became home port for the Pontic fleet.

Walls of Trabzon

When the kingdom was annexed to the Roman province of Galatia in 64–65, the fleet passed to new commanders, becoming the Classis Pontica. Trebizond gained importance under Roman rule in the 1st century for its access to road leading over the Zigana Pass to the Armenian frontier or the upper Euphrates valley. New roads were constructed from Persia and Mesopotamia under the rule of Vespasian, and Hadrian commissioned improvements to give the city a more structured harbor. A mithraeum now serves as a crypt for the church of Panaghia Theoskepastos in nearby Kizlara, east of the citadel and south of the modern harbor. The city was pillaged by the Goths in 258, and, although it was afterwards re-built, Trebizond did not recover until the trade route regained importance in the 8th to 10th centuries; 10th century Muslim authors note that Trebizond was frequented by Muslim merchants, as the main source transshipping Byzantine silks into eastern Muslim countries.[2] In Byzantine times, the city was the capital of the theme of Chaldia.

After the Fourth Crusade in 1204, a Byzantine successor state was founded there with support of Queen Tamar of Georgia, the Empire of Trebizond, which ruled part of the Black Sea coast from Trebizond until 1461, when its ruler, David, surrendered to Mehmed II, ruler of the Ottoman Empire. Following this takeover Mehmed sent many Turkish settlers into the area, but the old ethnic Armenian, Greek and Laz communities remained. During the late Ottoman period, the city had a great Christian influence in terms of culture, and a wealthy merchant class who created several Western consulates.

Modern era

Uzun Sokak, one of the central streets of Trabzon, at night

In 1901 the harbour was equipped with cranes by Stothert and Pitt of Bath in England. The city was the site of one of the key battles between the Ottoman and Russian armies during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I which resulted in the capture of Trebizond by the Russian army under command of Grand Duke Nicholas and Nikolai Yudenich in April 1916. Trabzon was a major Armenian extermination center during the Armenian Genocide, as well as a location of subsequent trials. Eitan Belkind was a Nili member, who infiltrated the Ottoman army as an official. He was assigned to the headquarters of Camal Pasha. He claims to have witnessed the burning of 5,000 Armenians, [3] Lt. Hasan Maruf, of the Ottoman army, describes how a population of a village were taken all together, and then burned. [4] Also, the Commander of the Third Army, Vehib's 12 pages affidavit, which was dated December 5, 1918, presented in the Trabzon trial series (March 29, 1919) included in the Key Indictment (published in Takvimi Vekayi, No. 3540, May 5, 1919), report such a mass burning of the population of an entire village near Mus. S. S. McClure write in his work, Obstacles to Peace, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1917. pp. 400–1, that in Bitlis, Mus and Sassoun, The shortest method for disposing of the women and children concentrated in tile various camps was to burn them. And also that, Turkish prisoners who had apparently witnessed some of these scenes were horrified and maddened at the remembering the sight. They told the Russians that the stench of the burning human flesh permeated the air for many days after. The Germans, Ottoman allies, also witnessed the way Armenians were burned according to the Israeli historian, Bat Ye’or, who writes: The Germans, allies of the Turks in the First World War, …saw how civil populations were shut up in churches and burned, or gathered en masse in camps, tortured to death, and reduced to ashes,… [5]During the Trabzon trial series, of the Martial court (from the sittings between March 26 and May 17, 1919), the Trabzons Health Services Inspector Dr. Ziya Fuad wrote in a report that Dr. Saib, caused the death of children with the injection of morphine, the information was allegedly provided by two physicians (Drs. Ragib and Vehib), both Dr. Saib colleagues at Trabzons Red Crescent hospital, where those atrocities were said to have been committed. [6]. Dr. Ziya Fuad, and Dr. Adnan, public health services director of Trabzon, submitted affidavits, reporting a cases, in which, two school buildings were used to organize children and then sent them on the mezzanine, to kill them with a toxic gas equipment. This case was presented during the Session 3, p.m., 1 April 1919, also published in the Constantinople newspaper Renaissance, 27 April 1919 [7]. The Ottoman surgeon, Dr. Haydar Cemal wrote in Türkce Istanbul, No. 45, 23 December 1918, also published in Renaissance, 26 December 1918, that on the order of the Chief Sanitation Office of the IIIrd Army in January 1916, when the spread of typhus was an acute problem, innocent Armenians slated for deportation at Erzican were inoculated with the blood of typhoid fever patients without rendering that blood ‘inactive’. Jeremy Hugh Baron writes : Individual doctors were directly involved in the massacres, having poisoned infants, killed children and issued false certificates of death from natural causes. Nazim's brother-in-law Dr. Tevfik Rushdu, Inspector-General of Health Services, organized the disposal of Armenian corpses with thousands of kilos of lime over six months; he became foreign secretary from 1925 to 1938. [8]. The psychiatrist, Robert Jay Lifton, writes in a parenthesis when introducing the crimes of NAZI doctors in his book Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, [9] Perhaps Turkish doctors, in their participation in the genocide against the Armenians, come closest, as I shall later suggest). and drowning. Oscar S. Heizer, the American consul at Trabzon, reports: This plan did not suit Nail Bey…. Many of the children were loaded into boats and taken out to sea and thrown overboard. [10] The Italian consul of Trabzon in 1915, Giacomo Gorrini, writes: I saw thousands of innocent women and children placed on boats which were capsized in the Black Sea. [11] Hoffman Philip, the American Charge at Constantinople chargé d'affaires, writes: Boat loads sent from Zor down the river arrived at Ana, one thirty miles away, with three fifths of passengers missing. [12] The Russian Army retreated from the city and the rest of eastern and northeastern Anatolia with the Russian Revolution of 1917. Following the Turkish War of Independence and the annulment of the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) which was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), Trebizond again became a part of Turkey. After World War I, European publications increasingly adopted local names for Turkish cities rather than traditional forms of Greek or Italian origin, and Trebizond became known to English-language readers as Trabzon.

During World War II shipping activity was limited because the Black Sea had again become a war zone. Hence the most important export products, tobacco and hazelnut, could not be sold and living standards degraded.

As a result of the general development of the country, Trabzon has developed its economic and commercial life. The Coastal Highway and a new harbour have increased commercial relations with Central Anatolia, which has led to some growth. However, progress has been slow in comparison with the western and the southwestern parts of Turkey.

Trabzon is famous throughout Turkey for its anchovies, which are the main meal in many restaurants in the city. Major exports from Trabzon are hazelnuts and tea.

The city may still have a small community of Greek-speaking Muslims, most of whom are originally from the vicinities of Tonya and Of. However, the Pontic Greek language (known as Ποντιακά, Pontiaka) is spoken mostly by the older generations.[13]

Geography and climate

The province has a total area of 4685 km² and it is bordered by the provinces of Rize, Giresun and Gümüşhane. The total area is 22.4% plateaux and 77.6% hills.


The Değirmendere (former Piksidis), Yanbolu, Fol, Karadere, Koha, Sürmene (former Manahos), Solaklı, Baltacı and İyidere (former Kalopotamos)


Çakırgöl, Uzungöl, Sera Gölü


Trabzon has a typical Black Sea climate with high and evenly distributed rainfall the year round. Summers are warm and humid, and the average maximum temperature is around 28°C in July and August. Winters are cool and damp, and the lowest average minimum temperature is around 5°C in January. Precipitation is heaviest in autumn and spring. Snowfall is quite common between the months of December and March, snowing for a week or two, and it can be heavy once it snows. The water temperature like in the whole Turkish Black Sea coast is always cool and fluctuates between 8° and 20°C throughout the year.

Climate data for Trabzon
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F 50 50 52 59 64 79 82 82 79 68 61 54 63
Average low °F 41 41 43 48 55 63 68 70 64 57 50 45 54
Average high °C 10 10 11 15 18 26 28 28 26 20 16 12 17
Average low °C 5 5 6 9 13 17 20 21 18 14 10 7 12
Source: {{{accessdate}}}


Greek has been spoken in the region since early antiquity. The local dialect developed along its own lines and is today partly intelligible to speakers of Standard Greek. It was spoken mainly by a Greek Orthodox population up until the population exchange; nearly all speakers are now Muslim. Laz people, who are the aboriginals of this area, also live in Trabzon.

The Chepnis, an Oghuz tribe that played an important role in the history of the Eastern Black Sea area in the 13th and 14th centuries, live in the Şalpazarı (Ağasar valley) region of the Trabzon Province.[14]

There was an Armenian community in Trebizond as early as the 7th century.[15] During the Mongol invasions of the 13th and 14th centuries, numerous Armenian families fled here from Ani.[15] According to Ronald C. Jennings, in the early 1500s, Armenians made up approximately 13 percent[16] of the city's population, and they numbered roughly equal to the Muslims in the city in that period.[17] In the late 19th century the Armenian community was persecuted during the Hamidian massacres.[18][19] Prior to World War I, a sizable Armenian community of 30,000 was present in the city.[15] During the Armenian Genocide, most were killed or deported.[15] Following the Russian capture of Trabzon in April 1916, some 500 Armenian survivors,[15] as well as monks of the local Armenian monastery returned.[20] They remained there until after the war.[15]

Trabzon has a sizeable Russian minority, who began emigrating to the region after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Russian language shops and facilities can be found in the town. Russians are generally subject to stereotypes and suspicion. A subset of Russian women work in the local prostitution industry and are thus derisively known as "Natashas" by Trabzonites.

Because of the presence of Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon hosts students from all over Turkey, especially the East and the Black Sea region, as well as students from Central Asian states.

The city is known as Trapezounda (Τραπεζούντα) in Modern Greek, Trapizon (Տրապիզոն) in Armenian, Trapizoni (ტრაპიზონი) in Georgian, and Tamtra (ტამტრა) in Laz.

Origin of the Pontic Turks and Greeks

Very little has been written on the Turkification of the area. There are no historical records of any considerable Turkish-speaking groups in the Trabzon area until the late 15th century, with the exception of the Chepnis. The original Greek (and in some regions Armenian) speakers imposed features from their mother language into Turkish. Heath W. Lowry's[21] work about Ottoman tax books[22] (Tahrir Defteri) with Halil İnalcık claims that most Turks of Trabzon city are of Greek origin.

It is possible that the majority of the population of Trabzon and Rize (and other ancient Greek colonies in the Pontus region) — except up to the time of the Chepni Turk immigration waves — consisted of indigenous Caucasian tribes (the Colchians and the Laz) who had been partly Hellenized religiously and linguistically.[23] Michael Meeker stresses the cultural resemblances (e.g. in village structure, house types, and pastoral techniques) between the Eastern Black Sea coast and the areas in the Caucasus proper.[24]

Tourist attractions

Hagia Sophia

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 (Turkish: Ayasofya Müzesi), 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.
  • Atatürk Köşkü is a lovely Victorian-era villa, which was given to Atatürk when he visited Trabzon in 1924. It houses period rooms and acts as a shrine to the memory of the Turks' beloved great leader.
  • 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 such 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.
  • Trabzon Museum is located in the town center and offers interesting exhibits on the history of the region, including an impressive collection of Byzantine-era artifacts.
  • Trabzon's Bazaar District offers interesting shopping opportunities on ancient narrow streets, continuing from Kunduracilar Street from the Meydan (town square).
  • Kostaki Mansion is located ob the north of Zeytinlik near Uzun Sokak.
The historic Ortahisar

Within Trabzon Province, the main attractions are the Sümela Monastery and Uzungöl. The monastery is built on the side of a very steep mountain overlooking the green forests below and is about 50 km south of the city. Uzungöl is famous for the natural beauty of the area and the amazing scenery.

Other important sites of interest include:[25] Kaymaklı Monastery, Kızlar (Panagia Theoskepastos) Monastery, Kuştul (Gregorios Peristera) Monastery, Kızlar (Panagia Kerameste) Monastery, Vazelon Monastery, Hagios Savvas (Maşatlık) Cave Churches, Hagia Anna (Little Ayvasıl), Sotha (St. John), Hagios Theodoros, Hagios Konstantinos, Hagios Khristophoras, Hagios Kiryaki, Santa Maria, Hagios Mikhail and Panagia Tzita churches, Fatih Mosque (originally the Panagia Khrysokephalos Church), Yeni Cuma Mosque (originally the Hagios Eugenios Church), Nakip Mosque (originally the Hagios Andreas Church), Hüsnü Köktuğ Mosque (originally the Hagios Eleutherios Church), İskender Pasha Mosque, Semerciler Mosque, Çarşı Mosque, and the Gülbahar Hatun Mosque and Türbe.


The 10th century Trebizond Gospel is a testimony to the ancient artistic traditions of the city.

Being open towards other cultures and religions plays a significant role in life styles of Trabzon populace. Muslims and Christians lived together in past as well as today, making the city proud heir to a rich cultural heritage. Folklore is still a living tradition in Trabzon and Black Sea region. Known as horon in Trabzon and surrounding areas is a famous folk dance peculiar to the region, and it is performed by men, women, young and elderly people in festivities, local weddings and harvest times.[26] Trabzon culture has a reputation for being religiously conservative and nationalist. Many Trabzonites generally show a strong sense of loyalty to family, friends, their religion, and Turkey.Atatürk selected the presidential guards from neighbour city of Giresun because of their fierce fighting ability and their loyalty.

The Black Sea region has a myriad of village and local folk culture, especially evident in folk music, folk dances, and local cuisine specialties. One of the more spirited folk dances in Turkey comes from the Trabzon region. While similar to Russian Cossack dances, the Trabzon folk dance is unique to Turkey and the region.

Outside of the relatively urban space of Trabzon proper, and within it as well, rural traditions from Black Sea village life are still thriving. This includes traditional gender roles, social conservatism, hospitality and willingness to help strangers, and all the trappings, both positive and negative, of an agrarian lifestyle, such as hard work, poverty, strong family ties, and a closeness to nature.

The city's fame was increased in the English-speaking world by Dame Rose Macaulay's last novel, The Towers of Trebizond (1956), which is still in print.[27]


Trabzon regional cuisine is traditionally reliant on fish, especially Hamsi (fresh European Anchovy similar to British Sprat or American Smelt). Trabzon meets 20% of total fish production in Turkey. Regional dishes include Akcaabat kofte (spicy lamb meatball from the Akcaabat district), Karadeniz pidesi (canoe shaped bread, often with ground beef, cheese, eggs), Sucuk (Turkish sausage and pastirma), kuymak (a Turkish fondue made with cornmeal, fresh butter and cheese), Vakfikebir ekmek (large country-style bread), Vakfıkebir Tereyağı(Vakfıkebir Butter), tava misir ekmek (deep-dish corn bread) and kara lahana corbasi (bean and cabbage soup). Taflan kavurmisι is a cherry laurel dish served with onions and olive oil. Trabzon is also famous for its hazelnuts.


Football is by far the most popular sport in Trabzon, as Trabzonspor is the only Turkish club in Anatolia to win the Turkish Super League (6 times) apart from the "Big Three" of Istanbul (Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş). Due to Trabzonspor's success, the decades-old term "Big Three" which defined the largest clubs of Turkey had to be modified into the "Big Four". Trabzonspor is also one of the most successful Turkish clubs in the European Cups, managing to beat numerous prominent teams like Barcelona, Inter, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Olympique Lyonnais.

Trabzon hosted the First Edition of the Black Sea Games in July, 2007 and will host the 2011 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival.

Notable natives

International relations

Twin towns — sister cities

Trabzon is twinned with:

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Port of Trabzon and Silk Road
  2. ^ R.B. Serjeant, Islamic Textiles: material for a history up to the Mongol conquest, 1972, pp 63, 213, noted by David Jacoby, "Silk Economics and Cross-Cultural Artistic Interaction: Byzantium, the Muslim World, and the Christian West", Dumbarton Oaks Papers 58 (2004:197-240) p. 219 note 112.
  3. ^ Yair Auron, The Banality of Indifference: Zionism and the Armenian Genocide. New Brunswick, N.J., 2000, pp. 181, 183.
  4. ^ See, British Foreign Office 371/2781/264888, Appendices B., p. 6).
  5. ^ B. Ye'or, The Dhimmi. The Jews and Christians under Islam, Trans. from the French by D. Maisel P. Fenton and D. Liftman, Cranbury, N.J.: Frairleigh Dickinson University, 1985. p. 95)
  6. ^ Vahakn N. Dadrian, The Turkish Military Tribunal’s Prosecution of the Authors of the Armenian Genocide: Four Major Court-Martial Series, Genocide Study Project, H. F. Guggenheim Foundation, published in The Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring 1997
  7. ^ Vahakn N. Dadrian, The Role of Turkish Physicians in the World War I Genocide of Ottoman Armenians, in The Holocaust and Genocide Studies 1, no. 2 (1986): 169–192
  8. ^ Jeremy Hugh Baron, Genocidal Doctors, publish in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, November, 1999, 92, pp. 590–3)
  9. ^ Basic Books, (1986) p. xii:
  10. ^ U.S. National Archives. R.G. 59. 867. 4016/411. April 11, 1919 report.
  11. ^ Toronto Globe, August 26, 1915
  12. ^ Cipher telegram, July 12, 1916. U.S. National Archives, R.G. 59.867.48/356. The Trabzon trials reported Armenians having been drown in the Black Sea. (Takvimi Vekdyi, No. 3616, August 6, 1919, p. 2.)
  13. ^ Trabzon Greek: A language without a tongue, Ömer Asan
  14. ^ Bernt Brendemoen, The Turkish dialects of Trabzon, University of Oslo, 2002 p18
  15. ^ a b c d e f *Ambart︠s︡umi︠a︡n, Victor Amazaspovich; Abel Poghosi Simonyan; Makich‘ Vahani Arzumanyan, (1986) (in Armenian). Haykakan sovetakan hanragitaran ("Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia"). 12. Yerevan. pp. 87. OCLC 10431241. 
  16. ^ 15.5% of 85%
  17. ^ Jennings, Ronald C. (Jan. 1976) Urban Population in Anatolia in the 16th Century: International Journal of MiddleEast Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 pp. 21-57.
  18. ^ Hundreds killed at Trebizond; Soldiers joined the mob in looting and in firing on Armenians, New York Times, October 18, 1895
  19. ^ Moslems desperate, New York Times, November 3, 1895
  20. ^ The Byzantine Churches of Trebizond, Selina Ballance, Anatolian Studies, volume 10, page 169.
  21. ^ Professor. Department of Near Eastern Studies. Princeton University
  22. ^ Trabzon Şehrinin İslamlaşması ve Türkleşmesi 1461–1583 ISBN 975-518-116-4
  23. ^ Michael Meeker, "The Black Sea Turks: some aspects of their ethnic and cultural background", International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (1971) 2:318–345
  24. ^ Meeker, 1971: p. 326 "As the mentioned, the villages along the Black Sea coast from Ordu to Artvin are composed of many hamlets, each dominating a hilltop or mountain side on which its own crops are separately planted. This type of settlement pattern is in sharp contrast with the typical nucleated Anatolian village, but its characteristic of many rural settlements of the Western Caucasus notably those of Abkhaz, Circassians, Georgians, Mingrelians and Ossetes…"
    For similar ideas See: Karl Koch, Reise duch Russland nach dem Kaukasis chen Istmus in den Jahren, 1836. vol1. p. 378; W.E.D. Allen, A History of the Georgian People, London 1932. pp. 54–5; Özhan Öztürk, Karadeniz. 2005. p. 35, 757–68. For linguistic influence see: Bernt Brendomoen, Laz influence on the Black Sea Turkish Dialects, 1990 (Proceedings from 32nd meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference)
  25. ^
  26. ^ People and culture of Trabzon and Black sea region
  27. ^ Macaulay, Rose: The Towers of Trebizond (Collins, London, 1956)
  28. ^ Eğrikavuk, Işıl (2009-08-21). "Portrait of A Lady as a non-conformist". Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  • Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites eds. Richard Stillwell, William L. MacDonald, Marian Holland McAllister: "Trapezus"
  • Özhan Öztürk (2005). Karadeniz (Black Sea): Ansiklopedik Sözlük. 2 Cilt. Heyamola Yayıncılık. İstanbul. ISBN 975-6121-00-9
  • Bryer, Anthony; David Winfield (1985-03). Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos (Dumbarton Oaks Studies,20) Two Volume Set. Dumbarton Oaks Pub Service. ISBN 088402122X. 
  • New York Times

External links

Coordinates: 41°00′N 39°44′E / 41°N 39.733°E / 41; 39.733

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Trabzon article)

From Wikitravel

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) Museum in downtown Trabzon
Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) Museum in downtown Trabzon

Trabzon (formerly Trebizond) is in the Eastern Karadeniz region of Turkey.


A trade centre since times immemorial, and visited by Marco Polo among many others, Trabzon is today the major city of Turkey's northeastern coast.

  • By plane from Ankara or Istanbul.
  • By bus from Istanbul (65 YTL, 18 hrs) Departs several times per day. There are also buses from Tbilisi, Georgia (about 12 hours) which serve as a useful point of entry to the country from Caucasus.
  • Turkish Maritime Lines used to operate two weekly ferryboats between Istanbul and various Black Sea ports. However, as of 2007, this service has been cancelled.
Sumela monastery
Sumela monastery
Fresco at Sumela
Fresco at Sumela
  • Aya Sofya Museum. A beautiful and picturesque church converted into a mosque and later into a museum that still has stunning frescoes within—just like its namesake in Istanbul. There is a peaceful open-air tea garden on the grounds. You can reach here by any Dolmuş marked 'Aya Sofya', which depart from the north side of Atatürk Alani square. The ride take 5-10 mintues, and costs about 1 YTL. This should be one of your sights while in Trabzon.
  • Sumela monastery, 50 km south of Trabzon. It was built on the mountainside in the 6th century. Admission is 5 YTL.
  • Uzungöl, a lake up in the mountains in the east of Trabzon near Caykara.

For general tourist information, the tourist office is located one block to the east of Atatürk Alani square, down Camii Sk., just beyond Hotel Nur. The clerk speaks English very well and provides you with a wealth of information about Trabzon and its surroundings. Before doing anything in Trabzon, go to the tourist office.

  • Tours of Sumela are offered by Eyce Tours [1]. A round trip to Sumela in the low season costs 15 YTL, and does not include a guide or the 5 YTL admission fee. In the high season, tours cost 12 YTL and include an English speaking guide. Eyce also offers tours to other nearby areas. Find them near Atatürk Alani, at Taksim İşhanı sk. 11. Tel (462) 3267174.
  • Trabzonspor why not watch a match of the local football team, Trabzonspor, the most sucessfull team outside of Istanbul. If you are in the city on a weekend you can watch the team at the Hüseyin Avni Stadium. It's about a 20-30 minute walk west of the main square. If in doubt ask a local "Trabzonsport Stadiuymu" and they will point you in the correct direction.
  • Günes Sanat Galerisi (art gallery), Zigana köy (Kalkanli (App. 1 hour with bus from Trabzon eastward over the mountains towards Torul and Gümüshane.), [2]. This art gallery is made by mr Azmi Aytekin, a 73 year old painter and thinker from Zigana. He has traveled around the world, and has settled in the small village Zigana (also called Kalkanli) near the magnificent Zigana mountains. Visit his homepage for pictures. (40.6078,39.3649) edit


There are nice local meals really worth a try. Especially, pide and köfte are really famous with their taste in Turkey. Pide is kind of pizza which is made with a special bread and cheese. You can also try "kiymali" which is made with meat and served with butter.

You can find a cheep but good place near city center called "Cardak Pide Salonu"

Kuzen is also a good option: no standard kebabs but (for example) delicious wrap-like rolls filled with hot Merkez sausage... It's in Cevdet Akcay sokak next to the modernish shopping mall on the north side of Kahraman Marash Cad.

Another special taste of Trabzon is Akcaabat koftesi which is meatballs. Made with meat, garlic and bread it's very delicious with ayran(yogurt mixed with water) and piyaz (beans,lettuce). There are clean and nice places in Akcaabat town such as Nihat Usta, Keyvan, Cemil Usta, Korfez Restaurant. You can have a walk and drink tea after dinner in Akcaabat Fisher Port.

Another nice place is Harran Kebap [3], on Kahramanmaraş Caddesi, not far from the main square.

Trabzon has the best bread in the country called Vakfikebir ekmegi. Give it a try, you won't regret it.

Lahmacun ("Laa-mach-june") is a great thing to try, it's like a very thin pizza with mince meat on the top. They are cheap, healthy and taste very nice the only problem is a sophisticated oven is required to cook them so not all restaurants have them, but if they are possible they are well worth getting. You usually order an Ayran (pronounced "i-RUN") with it which is a salt youghurt drink that aids digestion.

All food in Trabzon is cooked to a high hygenic standard, and additionally most restaurants give you free hand wipes to clean your hands before and after eating food.


Try the popular pub Beer Time near the main square.

For those longing for real (European-style) coffee, Keyif Coffee & Tea Store has a huge selection of Tea (listing them by area and even Tea Estate) and first rate Cappachino (3 YTL). They are hidden within the shopping complex Canbakkal İş Merkezi, a few blocks to the west of Atatürk Alani square.

  • Hotel Nur, Iskenderpasa Mah. Cami Sokak (Next to the tourist office.They speak some English.), +90.462.323.04.45-323 04 46 (fax: +90.462.323 04 47). singles for 35 YTL (summer 2008).  edit

The cheapest hotels are down from Ataturk Square towards the port, but they usually function as unofficial brothels. By European standards the area is safe, however, and the prostitutes quite discreet. Between those hotels, Hotel Erzurum was acceptable and frequented by backpackers. It's situated 100 m below the square, between Yuvam and Anil hotels. A double with a bathroom, TV and balcony costed 20 YTL (summer 2005).

  • Busses leave Trabzon Otogar for Kars (near the ancient ruins of Ani) at Midnight, arriving 8AM-9AM.
  • Mid-size buses every hour from Trabzon otogar (bus station) towards Torul and Gümüşhane. Last bus in the evening: 8 PM.
  • There are also long distance buses to other major Turkish destinations (e.g. Istanbul, Göreme, Sivas, Izmir etc) but it's a good idea to book these ahead of when you travel. There are many travel / ticket agent shops who can help you with this around Ataturk Alani (the main square in Trabzon).
Routes through Trabzon
AkçakocaSamsun  W noframe E  SürmeneRize
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TREBIZOND (Gr. Trapezus), a city of Asia Minor, situated on the Black Sea, near its south-eastern angle. From the time of its foundation as a Greek colony to the present day it has always been a considerable emporium of commerce, and it was for two centuries and a half the capital of an empire. Its importance is due to its command of the point where the chief trade route from Persia and Central Asia to Europe, over the table-land of Armenia by Bayezid and Erzerum, descends to the sea. Its safety also was secured by the barrier of rugged mountains (7000 to 8000 ft.) which separates its district from the rest of Asia Minor. So complete is the watershed that no streams pass through these ranges, and there is hardly any communication in this direction between the interior of Asia Minor and the coast. For the same reason, together with its northern aspect, the climate is humid and temperate, unlike that of the inland regions, which are exposed to great extremes of heat in summer and cold in winter. The position which was occupied by the Hellenic and medieval city is a sloping table of ground (whence the original name of the place, Trapezus, the "Table-land"), which falls in steep rocky precipices on the two sides, where two deep valleys, descending from the interior, run parallel at no great distance from one another down to the sea. The whole is still enclosed by the Byzantine walls, which follow the line of the cliffs and are carried along the sea-face; and the upper part of the level, which is separated from the lower by an inner cross wall, forms the castle; while at the highest point, where a sort of neck is formed between the two valleys, is the keep which crowns the whole. On each side, about half-way between the keep and the sea, these ravines are crossed by massive bridges, and on the farther side of the westernmost of these, away from the city, a large tower and other fortifications remain. The area of the ancient city is now called the Kaleh, and is inhabited by the Turks; eastward of this is the extensive Christian quarter, and beyond this again a low promontory juts northward into the sea, partly covered with the houses of a well-built suburb, which is the principal centre of commerce. The harbour lies on the eastern side of this promontory, but it is an unsafe roadstead, being unprotected towards the north-east and having been much silted up, so that vessels cannot approach within a considerable distance of the shore. From here the caravans start for Persia, and at certain periods of the year long trains of camels may be seen, and Persian merchants conspicuous by their high black caps and long robes. The route which these caravans follow is a chaussee as far as Erzerum, but this in places is too much broken to admit of the transit of wheeled vehicles. The railway by Batoum to Baku by way of Tiflis has tended greatly to turn the channel of commerce from Trebizond into Russian territory, since it helps to open the route to Erivan, Tabriz and the whole of Persia. The total population of the place amounts to about 40,000, of whom 22,000 are Moslems and 18,000 Christians. Great Britain and all the larger European states have consulates there.

The vilayet, of which Trebizond is the chief town, consists of a long irregular strip of coast country, the eastern half of which is deeply indented and mountainous.


The city of Trapezus was a colony of Sinope, but it first comes into notice at the time of the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, who found repose there. Notwithstanding its commercial importance, the remoteness of its position prevented it from being much known to fame either in the Hellenic or the early medieval period; its greatness dates from the time of the fourth crusade (1204), when the Byzantine Empire was dismembered and its capital occupied by the Latins. During the confusion that followed that event Alexius Comnenus escaped into Asia, and, having collected an army of Iberian mercenaries, entered Trebizond, where he was acknowledged as the legitimate sovereign, and assumed the title of Grand Comnenus. Though only twenty-two years of age, Alexius was a man of ability and resolute will, and he succeeded without difficulty in making himself master of the greater part of the southern coast of the Black Sea. The empire thus founded continued to exist until 1461, when the city was taken by Mahommed II. The cause of this long duration, and at the same time the secret of its history, is to be found in the isolated position of Trebizond and its district, between the mountains and the sea, which has already been described. By this means it was able to defy both the Seljuks and the Ottomans, and to maintain its independence against the emperors of Nicaea and Constantinople. But for the same reason its policy was always narrow, so that it never exercised any beneficial influence on the world at large. It was chiefly in the way of matrimonial alliances that it was brought into contact with other states. The imperial family were renowned for their beauty, and the princesses of this race were sought as brides by Byzantine emperors of the dynasty of the Palaeologi, by Western nobles, and by Mahommedan princes; and the connexions thus formed originated a variety of diplomatic relations and friendly or offensive alliances. The palace of Trebizond was famed for its magnificence, the court for its luxury and elaborate ceremonial, while at the same time it was frequently a hotbed of intrigue and immorality. The Grand Comneni were also patrons of art and learning, and in consequence of this Trebizond was resorted to by many eminent men, by whose agency the library of the palace was provided with valuable manuscripts and the city was adorned with splendid buildings. The writers of the time speak with enthusiasm of its lofty towers, of the churches and monasteries in the suburbs, and especially of the. gardens, orchards and olive groves. It excited the admiration of Gonzales Clavijo, the Spanish envoy, when he passed through it on his way to visit the court of Timur at Samarkand (Clavijo, Historia del gran Tamorlan, p. 84); and Cardinal Bessarion, who was a native of the place, in the latter part of his life, when the city had passed into the hands of the Mahommedans, and he was himself a dignitary of the Roman Church, so little forgot the impression it had made upon him that he wrote a work entitled "The Praise of Trebizond" ('E-yac c uLovTpaire oiivros), which exists in manuscript at Venice. Little was known of the history of the empire of Trebizond until the subject was taken in hand by Professor Fallmerayer of Munich, who discovered the chronicle of Michael Panaretus among the books of Cardinal Bessarion, and from that work, and other sources of information which were chiefly unknown up to that time, compiled his Geschichte des Kaiserthums von Trapezunt (Munich, 1827). From time to time the emperors of Trebizond paid tribute to the Seljuk sultans of Iconium, to the grand khans of the Mongols, to Timur the Tatar, to the Turkoman chieftains, and to the Ottomans; but by means of skilful negotiations they were enabled practically to secure their independence. We find them also at war with many of these powers, and with the Genoese, who endeavoured to monopolize the commerce of the Black Sea. The city was several times besieged, the most formidable attack being that which occurred in the reign of Andronicus I., the second emperor, when the Seljuks, under the command of Melik, the son of the great sultan Ala-ed-din, first assaulted the northern wall in the direction of the sea, and afterwards endeavoured to storm the upper citadel by night. They failed, however, in both attempts; and in the latter, owing to the darkness, and to the occurrence of a violent storm which suddenly swelled the torrents in the ravines, their force was thrown into inextricable confusion, and they were compelled to abandon their camp and make the best of their escape from the country. So great was the strength of the fortifications that Mahommed II. might have experienced much difficulty in reducing it, had it not been for the pusillanimous conduct of David, the last emperor, who surrendered the place almost unconditionally.

Ancient Memorials

Several interesting monuments of this period remain at Trebizond in the form of churches in the Byzantine style of architecture. One of these is within the area of the old city, viz. the church of the Panaghia Chrysokephalos, or Virgin of the Golden Head, a large and massive but excessively plain building, which is now the Orta-hissar mosque. On the farther side of the eastern ravine stands a smaller but very well proportioned structure, the church of St Eugenius, the patron saint of Trebizond, now the Yeni Djuma djami, or New Friday mosque. Still more important is the church of Haghia Sophia, which occupies a conspicuous position overlooking the sea, about 2 m. west of the city. The porches of this are handsomely ornamented, and about Ioo ft. from it rises a tall campanile, the inner walls of which have been covered in parts with frescoes of religious subjects, though these are now much defaced. But the most remarkable memorial of the middle ages that exists in all this district is the monastery of Sumelas, which is situated about 25 m. from Trebizond, at the side of a rocky glen, at a height of 4000 ft. above the sea. Its position is most extraordinary, for it occupies a cavern in the middle of the face of a perpendicular cliff 1000 ft. high, where the white buildings offer a marked contrast to the brown rock which forms their setting. It is approached by a zigzag path at the side of the cliff, from which a flight of stone xxvII. 8 a steps and a wooden staircase give access to the monastery. The valley below is filled with the richest vegetation, the undergrowth being largely composed of azaleas and rhododendrons. An antiquity of 150o years is claimed for the foundation of the monastery, but it is certain that the first person who raised it to importance was the emperor Alexius Comnenus III. of Trebizond; he rebuilt it in 1360, and richly endowed it. The golden bull of that emperor, which became thenceforth the charter of its foundation, is still preserved; it is one of the finest specimens of such documents, and contains portraits of Alexius himself and his queen. The monastery also possesses the firman of Mahommed II. by which he accorded his protection to the monks when he became master of the country.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. -J. Ph. Fallmerayer, Geschichte des Kaiserthums von Trapezunt (Munich, 1827); also Fragmente aus dem Orient, vol. i. (Stuttgart, 1845); C. Texier, Asie Mineure (Paris, 1862); C. Texier and R. P. Pullan, Byzantine Architecture (London, 1864); G. Finlay, History of Greece, vol. iv. (Oxford, 1877); H. F. Tozer, Turkish Armenia and Eastern Asia Minor (London, 1881). (H. F. T.) j

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