Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern Turkey. The modern city of Trabzon is the largest port along the Black Sea coast, and at beginning of Caucassia and Iran transit road. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been an influx of traders from the CIS, especially neighbouring Georgia, and the city is becoming more cosmopolitan.
Trabzon is probably best remembered from the classic novel, “The Towers of Trebizond”, and many earlier pieces of travel literature, although little remains of the romanticised image of exotic culture and architecture. One of the highlights is Aya Sofia, the medieval church with outstanding Byzantine frescoes, the Russian Market and the old houses and mosques dotted around the town. Trabzon is a good transport hub from which to explore the Black Sea region.
There are regular bus services from and to major cities such as Ankara, İstanbul and many other cities. There are three main roads to Trabzon from Rize and Artvin in the East, from Erzurum and Gümüşhane in the South and from Giresun, Ordu and Samsun in the West.
Trabzon International Airport is the biggest in the region where all kinds of planes can land and take off. There are regular daily flights from Ankara and İstanbul to Trabzon. During summers there are also flights to some European countries and Russia as well.
In summer from May to September there is a ferry boat to Trabzon run by Turkish Maritime Lines. The ferry boat sets sail from İstanbul and calls at Sinop, Samsun, Trabzon and Rize ports. There are also yachts that set sail to Black Sea for touristy voyages.
Trabzon has a mild climate all year round. Day and night temperature difference is not so high. Being situated along a sea-side and surrounded towards south by steep mountains running parallel to the coast, it receives a lot of rain, especially in winters and springs. March and may are the rainiest terms. Snow is rare, and melts away even it does snow. Warm clothes are needed in winters although the temperature never drops below zero. In summers the temperatures are up to 30 oC, but effective temperature is about five degrees more than what is shown due to high humidity. Beaches along the Black Sea coast are very helpful on such days and provide the visitors with a pleasant atmosphere with sea water temperature around 23 oC.
The city was first founded by Colonists from Sinope and Miletus during the 8th century BC, originally called Trapezus (derived from the ancient Greek word for table) and situated above the harbour. It prospered under the Romans and Byzantines, mainly in the shipping trade, and as a branch of the Silk Road.When the Fourth Crusaders seized Constantinople in 1204, the imperial family from Comnenus established an empire along the Black Sea Coast and Alexius set up the Empire of Trebizond. This was a golden era for the city, was 13th and 14th centuries, that it saw the successful reign of Alexius II who created great wealth, trade and culture, making Trebizond something of an artistic icon to rival the great Italian Renaissance. His reign ended after a destructive civil war in 1341, and over a century later Mehmet the Conqueror brought the city under Ottoman rule and revived the port as a trading centre. The city was then conquered by in 1461 by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and while Selim the Grim was the Prince, Suleyman the Magnificent was born here and came to power in 1520. 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. The city is still a busy trading centre, more so after the collapse of the USSR, although the shipping industry fell into decline after the rail route between Ankara and Erzurum, and the road to Iran.
Trabzon is a city of tradition. The folk dances of the region, known as the “Horon” are renowned, and are danced by men and women, young and old alike. The Horon is accompanied by traditional music played on a type of small violin with three strings called ‘kemençe’. It is often accompanied by drums, horns and shepherd’s flutes. In Trabzon folklore, the mountain pasture festivals play an important role. In the mountains the mountain pastures, like a chain, entertains these festivals every year. The groups composed of men and women arrive in the mountain pastures with their cattle and sheep, and begin festivals by setting a big “şölen” (feast). Nearly everybody joins the horon, accompanied by kemençe. In these festivals, the women, wearing colourful regional clothes, and decorated animals are really worth seeing. There is a variety of subjects in the folk songs (türkü) of Trabzon region. In the folk songs, it is possible to find the temperament, character, and the life-style of the people of this region and to get concise information about the social and geographical structure of the region. The songs, which are on love, separation, natural beauties, and social events, are of both fast and slow-going “uzun hava” kinds. Apart from these, another common type of song is “atışma” (a kind of word duello). IMG_2099 One of the first Turkish newspapers, called ‘Trabzon’ was printed in the area in 1866, bearing witness to the high level of journalistic and cultural life in the area. Theatre is also of great importance to the people of Trabzon with a number of amateur and folk theatre groups. The traditional cuisine of the area is largely based on “hamsi” (anchovy). Other local delicacies include black cabbage soup, ‘kuymak’ which is a kind of pudding made of corn flour, cheese and butter, and ‘pide’, a type of bread. Akçaabat köftesi (meat bowls), butter and bread are also well-known. Trabzon is renowned for its traditional handicrafts, all made from natural materials available locally. Trabzon was one of the main copper mining centres of the Ottoman Empire, and was, and still is, famous for its copper cauldrons, ewers, bowls and buckets. In addition, agricultural and household tools made of iron, bracelet made by weaving silver threads (hasir bilezik), and the different decorative objects which are made of silver and are called «telkâri» are very popular. Wooden agricultural and household tools, kilims, peştemals (waist clothes), bags, colourful woollen socks and transportation ropes are worth seeing.In this heavily forested region, local people have always used wood as their main material for building. They also carve wooden furniture, tubs and churns for use in cheese making as well as many smaller items such as baskets and spoons.
WHERE TO VISIT
Çaykara – Uzungöl Tourist Center
Situated at 1250 m., Uzungöl, with its unparalleled natural beauty, has become a popular tourist destination in the last few years. The infrastructure is complete and the 500,000 m2 lake has large numbers of trout and carp. Ten kilometers south of Uzungöl in the Holdizon Mountains is Lake Balıklıgöl, a perfect place to take a hike and observe wildlife in a pristine unspoiled environment.The dominant tree species is Eastern spruce, and there are also badger, bearded, alder, horn-beam, hazelnut, oak, mountain elm and silver birch trees. Species of animals include mountain goat, roe deer, bear, wolf, wild boar, marten, badger, lynx, jackal, fox, rabbit, squirrel, wild ducks, birds of prey, trout and various kinds of reptiles.The transportation facility goes on all over the year to Uzungöl, which is 20 km from Çaykara. Uzungol-Trabzon
The Sera Lake Area
In order to get there, you need to take the Trabzon-Akçaabat road for 7 km. and then turn south on the gravel road. It is 2 km. to the village. There are minibus services between Trabzon and Akçaabat 24 hours a day. There are basic services like running water, electricity and a post office, as well as a very fine camping and picnic area. Fishing in the lake is allowed. Accommodations are provided by the village of bed and breakfast houses. All types of basic necessities can be obtained from the village. The local fish restaurant, tea house and markets are open until late at night.
The 22 km road between the town of Maçka and the village of Gürgenağaç is asphalt. At the village take the dirt road south for 7 km. In the summer, commercial vehicles offer passenger service to visitors.The village which sits at 1850 m. has a completed infrastructure. Visitors can fish for trout in the ice-cold creek which runs through the village or sled down the steep grass covered hills. The ‘Ayeser’ festival is held there on the third Friday of July of each year. There is electricity, running water, a fountain and a post office, as well as a small market, tea house, butcher and restaurant.
On the way to the 2504 m. Çakırgöl Highlands, you will pass by the highland villages of Arnavutluk, Kırantaş, Akarsu, Ayraksa, Livayda Kurugöl, Mesaraş Furnoba, Kasapoğlu, Camiboğazı, Ortaoba and Deveboynu.Access to the village is provided by a dirt road that turns off to the right 5 km out on the Maçka – Meryemana road and continues for another 90 km. Sometimes it is possible to get a ride with one of the commercial vehicles using the road. Off-road vehicles should be used to get to the Çakırgöl highland. Someone who wants to camping, should bring their own tents and other basic camping supplies.
The oxygen-rich air of this village sitting at 1946 m has made it a popular place for those suffering from lung problems. The village infrastructure is complete. Wildlife here is abundant and souvenirs and gift items are available. Access to the village is provided by turning west on a dirt road 12 km out on the Akçaabat – Düzköy road. Continue for another 28 km in order to reach the village. Commercial vehicles offer transportation during the summer months. There is a bed and breakfast with 10 beds and a small market, a bakery, a tea house and a restaurant.
Hıdırnebi and Kuruçam Highlands
You can get to the village by turning west on the dirt road 12 kilometers out of the Akçaabat – Düzköy road. The road is open year-round and commercial vehicles provide transportation. It is one kilometer from Kuruçam to Hıdırnebi. With an elevation of 1742 m., the village has a completed infrastructure. The ‘Hıdırnebi’ Festival, which is held July 20-22, is held on Hıdırnebi Mountain, a beautiful lookout with a spectacular view. In the forest it is possible to see wolves, foxes, jackals and other wild animals and it is a great place for a photo safari. The local villagers sell hand-made bags, woolen socks, woven baskets and kitchen utensils such as wooden spoons and churns. There is a small market, green grocer, butcher, bakery, restaurant and teahouse. During the summer a bed and breakfast provides accommodations. In the village of Acısu, there is a mineral spring and a bed and breakfast.
Sis Dağı Highland
Access to the village of Sis dağı is provided by a 25 km dirt road out of the Erikbeli Tourist Center. Improvements have been made to the infrastructure of the village, which sits at an elevation of 1550 m. There is a small market, butcher and teahouse. Every year on the third Saturday of July the ‘Sis Dağı’ Festival is held here. You need to bring your own camping gear, but basic supplies can be obtained from the village.
The Kadırga Highland is 14 km. east of the Erikbeli Tourist Center. Commercial vehicles provide transportation in the summer months along this dirt road. This village, with an elevation of 2300 m. is located right around the tree line. Every year tens of thousands of people come to the ‘Kadırga’ Festival held here. During the folk dances, competitions, and musical entertainment, literally tons of food and drink is consumed and the whole area looks like a huge bazaar or fairground.There are basic services such as electricity, running water and toilets as well as a small market, butcher, bakery, restaurant, sewing supplies shop and teahouses.
Lying southeast of the city centre, the area of Boztepe dominates the surroundings and has always been highly respected through the ages. The hill has fine views of the surrounding city and the sea, and is a popular place for picnics in the summer, and there are the remains of a ruined convent and monastery. The Convent of Panaya Theoskepastos dates back the 14th century and was used as a Greek Orthodox church until 1923. Kaymakli, around 4km south, is a former Armenian monastery and contains well-preserved frescoes dating back to the 17th century, with the courtyard now used by the adjacent farm. There are some minibuses that go near to the monastery, although a short walk is also necessary.
The cave is located at the Çalköy Borough of Düzköy. The entrance part of the cave is at average human height. After the first 150 meters, stalactite and stalagmites are encountered. The cave is thought to be extremely long and the exact length is unknown. There is a river flowing through the river. The cave has partially wide locations and partially narrow locations. There is a castle established at the upper side of the cave dominating the area.
MOSQUE, CHURCHE AND PALACES
Trabzon in an important destination for religious tourism, containing many interesting and historical mosques and churches. These include: Gülbaharhatun Mosque, Iskenderpasa Mosque, Çarsi Mosque, Büyük Imaret Mosque; Haghios Eugenius Church (Yeni Cuma Mosque), Panaghia Chrysocephalos Church (Fatih Mosque), Santa Maria Church, Hagia Sophia Church and Santa (Dumanli) churches.
Gülbahar Hatun Mosque
The mosque was constructed in the name of the mother of Yavuz Sultan Selim, Ayşe – Gülbahar Hatun in 1514 inside a Külliye complex near Zagnos Bridge. This mosque holds a special place among the other Turkish Creations in Trabzon. The mosque enters into the group of “mosques with lodges of dervishes” that form a separate plan type in the early period Ottoman Architecture. The “courtyard” which is almost always encountered in the mosques with lodges of dervishes is not present in this mosque. The stonemasonry of the walls are important. The minaret located at the west side is in the classical Ottoman minaret style.
Fatih Mosque (Ortahisar Mosque – Panaghia Chrysocephalos Church-Center)
The structure is known as the major church of Trabzon and is located in the Ortahisar quarter. It is assumed that the church was constructed over the ruins of an ancient Roman temple by Hanmibalianos, the nephew of Roman Emperor Constantin (A.D. 325 – 364). The church is known as “the Cathedral of the Comnens ” and as a depiction to the Mother Mary, it was named as the “Goldenhead”. The reason for naming the church with the name “Goldenhead” is that in painting of the Mother Mary which is located on the apsis shaped semi-circle, the moiré of Mother Mary is coated with gold. After the conquest of Trabzon by Turkish forces in 1461 the structure was transformed into a mosque. Some of the researchers compare the church with the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul…
This Greek Orthodox monastery was constructed within a cavern in the middle of a steep slope above dense forests, and lies 45km south of Trabzon. This was the most important of many monasteries built in the area during the Byzantine era and the best preserved, even after it was abandoned in 1923 when the Turkish Republic was created. Several years later one of the monks discovered treasures – including the famous icon said to have been painted by St Luke and responsible for several miracles. Recent restorations have enhanced the quality of the different chapels, some of which contain frescoes dating back to the 9th century. Its setting is within Altindere national park, with thick forests, streams and trout farms, making it a popular excursion especially for locals at weekends. There are private bus tours from Trabzon, and it is also possible by minibus or shared taxi.
The church is located inside a monastery complex which is two kilometers from west of Trabzon province. It is assumed to be constructed by the King of Commenos State I. Manuel between the dates in 1238 – 1263. The four pillared and three abscissa chapel located to the north is dated earlier than the structure. The Hagia Sophia of the Trabzon is the most important structure of late Byzantine Period of the region. The structure was transformed into a mosque in the period of III. Murat in 1670 by Beylerbeyi Ali Bey. The structure was restored between the dates of 1958 – 1962 by the cooperation of Edinburg University and Charitable Foundations General Directorate and entered into service as a museum in 1964. The structure has a beautiful stonemasonry. It is also very rich in stone decorations and frescos. The church has depictions as; the banishment of Adam and Eve from heaven, Mother Mary sitting on the throne, The ascend of Jesus to the sky, the birth of St. Jesus, the miracles of St. Jesus,The last supper of St. Jesus, the descend of St. Jesus to hell, the baptism, the symbols of Bible writers. The church also contains decorations like single headed eagle, unnatural creatures, geometric plant like decorations and bird figures. Especially the multicolored niches, pillar titles at the western side and the geometric patterned medallions at the northern sşide are the samples of Seljukian stone decoration art.
The monastery is located 14 kilometre away from Maçka district, between the pine tree forest. The exact foundation date of the monastery in uncertain but some researchers claim that the foundation of the monastery could be between A.D. 270 – 317 years. The monastery had been restored by emperor Justinianus in 565 and undergo numerous repairs and restoration processes until the present day. The Vazelon Monastery had influenced the religious, cultural and economic structure of Maçka district after 13th century. It is said that the Sumela Monastery was constructed by the incomes of Vazelon Monastery, which was the wealthiest monastery of the region. The frescos depicting the heaven, the hell and the final judgement located at the northern exterior wall of the triple nef church still preserves their beauty and vigor.
Situated in a small pine grove in the Soguksu area, this mansion was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century and belonged to Greek banker Karayannidhis, who was forced to abandon it 20 years later. Ataturk stayed at there in 1924, 1934 and 1937 during his visits to Trabzon, and it was formally presented to him a year before his death. It was then decorated with furniture and décor from that period, filled with photographs of the leader and opened by the city’s municipality as Ataturk Museum. It is still an impressive building, set in immaculate gardens, and there are regular buses running the 7km from the city centre.