humid and ubiquitously green Black Sea Coast surprises
those who imagine the country to be nothing but barren steppes. From Turkey
European border with Bulgaria to the Georgian border, dense pine forests
cover the mountain tops; lush vegetation and bountiful crops grow in the
lower elevations and valleys. Along the coastline, mile after mile of
beautiful uncrowded beaches offer sun, swimming and relaxation. In the
springtime, delicate wild-flower blossoms carpet especially the rolling
meadows in the hills of the Eastern Black Sea Coast. Throughout the region,
fishing villages and mountain hamlets alike preserve their indigenous
and traditional wooden architectural styles. The humid climate and fertile
soil encourage the cultivation of a variety of produce, including tea,
tobacco, corn and hazelnuts.
Once called Trapezus, and later Trebizond,
the modern town of Trabzon is the major city of the region.
It was founded in the 7th century B.C. by Miletian colonists and was the
center of the Comnene Empire established after the fall of Byzantine Istanbul.
The exiled Byzantine ruled until 1461, when the Ottomans conquered the
area. The restored 13th Century Byzantine church, used for centuries as
a mosque and now the Ayasofya Museum, is the jewel of Trabzon
monuments. Splendid frescoes, some of the finest examples of Byzantine
painting, cover every surface of the interior church walls. Several other
churches were converted to mosques, such as the Faith Mosque
and the Yeni Cuma Mosque. The Ottoman Gulbahar Mosque, a
typical provincial-style building, is set in a lovely tea garden. Wooden
houses fill the old quarter in the ancient fortifications, and it still
retains the spirit of a medieval town. The house in which Ataturk stayed
has been made into a museum.
Boztepe Park on the hills above
Trabzon, offers a beautiful view of the city and the coastline. On the
western slopes of Boztepe Hill stands the Irene Tower, built
by Empress Irene of Trabzon in 1340. Just east of the city, the village
of Surmene has an impressive 19th century mansion known as the Kastel.
Near Trabzon, south of Akcaabat, lovely higland meadows - Karadag,
Hidirnebi and Erikbeli - are ideal hiking and picnicking grounds.
The road inland from Trabzon winds through spectacular mountain landscape
before reaching the Zigana Tunnel, the longest in Turkey.
Nearby, Hamsikoy, a charming mountain village, has gained
a national reputation for its excellent cuisine and is also conveniently
near the Zigana Ski Center. Beautiful meadows and highland pastures are
ideal sites for outdoor activities and picnics. The traditional Kadirga
Festival celebrates the annual summer migration to the high mountain pastures.
Altindere National Park provides
a magnificent setting for the 14th century Sumela Monastery,
perched on a cliff face 270 meters above a deep gorge. Surrounded by the
ruins of the monks dwellings, the church is covered inside and out with
brilliant frescoes. Southeast of Trabzon, Uzungol, a lovely
alpine lake surrounded by mountains and meadows, is an excellent camping,
trekking and fishing area; its restaurants make it the best place for
Gumushane, on the ancient trade
route between Trabzon and Iran, was once of considerable importance. Many
elegant buildings from that period still remain. Set amid fruit groves
and wild roses, the town makes a natural stopping point between Trabzon
Bayburt, the newly designated
provincial capital, lies on the Silk Road. Marco Polo and the inveterate
Turkish traveler Evliya Celebi both passed through this town. The remains
of a Byzantine castle, important mosques, Turkish baths and fascinating
carved tomb stones are among Bayburt significant monuments.
Trabzon's recorded history begins around
746 BC, when colonists originally from Miletus came from Sinop and founded
a settlement with its acropolis on the Trapeza, or "table" of
land above the harbor.
The exiled Byzantine court ruled until 1461
when Ottomans conquered the area. The restored 13th century Byzantine
church, used for centuries as a mosque and now the Ayasofya Museum, is
the jewel of Trabzon's monuments.
Trabzon was under Persian rule until 334
B.C.upon the invasion of Anatolia by the Macedonian leader Alexander the
Great under the Persian emperor Keyhusrev. When Alexander died in 323B.C.
a major part of the Black Sea area went under the domain of Evmenes. In
280 B.C. an independent state by the name of Pontus was established. King
Farnakes was the king of Pontus. As the kingdom developed, Sinop became
the capital city while Trabzon served as a harbor city supplying the Pontus
Kingdom with timber and products of its mines and shipyards.
Upon the division of the Roman Empire into
two parts, Trabzon went under the domain of Rome with the Eastern Black
Sea region. After the second half of the 1st century, Trabzon gained importance
and quickly started developing. New commercial opportunities were created
in Trabzon when roads connecting Persia to upper Mesopotamia were built
during the reign of Emperor Vespasianus. (67-79A.D.) It then became a
Roman state when Emperor Arianus started to rule. (98-117A.D.) Emperor
Hadrianus helped the city and had a harbor built in his name. A hippodrome,
a theater, an inner fortress and aqueducts were built which changed the
appearance of the city.
This lasted until 258 A. D. when Goths invaded
and looted the city during the time of Emperor Valerianus. (253-260A.D.)
Although the city was reconstructed, it never gained its old beauty. It
became an important religious center during the expansion of Christianity
and as a result, many churches and monasteries were built one after another.
The attacks of the Moslem Arab armies against the region from 705 A.D.
onwards affected the city to a great extent. As of 1098, the Christian
governors of Trabzon tried very hard to protect their independence against
Byzantium, but they were not successful. Emperor Justinianus I had new
fortresses built in order to defend the city and also had water brought
to the city. Stefanos, the Byzantine historian, in his books wrote about
the constructional works realized during the period of Justinianus. In
the 11th century Trabzon gained even more importance by being a military
base. Anatolian Seljuks attacked the city and it was conquered by Sultan
Meliksah (1107-1116) but was taken back by Governor Theodoros Gabras.
When the Latins invaded Istanbul Alexius Komnenos, the son od Andronikos
Komnenos I fled away and came to Trabzon. Here he declared himself the
emperor. Therefore, once again the state of Pontus was established in
Significant developments were seen while
under Komnenos rule. However he lost a great part of his land when he
lost the battle against David Palaiologos, the Emperor of Iznik. Emperor
Andronikos I who replaced Komnenos tried hard to regain independence from
the Seljuks who were ruling the country. He sent his ships to Sinop for
looting purposes and won a sea battle against the Seljuks. In return,
Alaaddin Keykubad I surrounded the city from both the land and the sea,
but could not conquer it.
Trabzon was a vital harbour on the Erzurum-Tebriz
and Black Sea-Persia trading routes in the second half of the 13th century.
Mongolians were in power in the beginning, however the Turkomans took
power later on.
The first serious Ottoman attempt to conquer
Trabzon was during the time of Emperor Kalo Ioannes IV (1447-1458). Sultan
Murat II sent his fleet but was not able to seize the city.
Following the conquest of Istanbul, Emperor
Kalo Ioannes IV paid taxes to Fatih Sultan Mehmet and in the meantime
incited Pope Calixos III and Uzun Hasan against Fatih. He also permitted
Byzantine families who ran away from Istanbul to settle in his country.
Fatih Sultan Mehmet sent Hizir Bey to Trabzon. Trabzon was faced with
the unexpected arrival of the Ottoman navy. The emperor yielded by proposing
to pay tax to the amount of 1000 gold pieces per year. He sent his brother,
David Komnenos, accompanied by Hizir Bey, to Istanbul to come to an agreement.
However, Fatih Sultan Mehmet increased the amount to 3000 gold pieces
per year. In the meantime the Emperor did not give up his assaults. While
he was paying taxes, he sent messengers to Akkoyunlu Uzun Hasan proposing
that he marry his daughter Katerina. He also sought a way to make an agreement
with Karamanoglu Ibrahim Bey. After the death of Emperor Kalo Ioannes,
his brother David Komnenos was crowned. He sent Katherina to Uzun Hasan.
She changed her name to Despina and played an important role in the Akkoyunlu
palace. David Komnenos decreased the amount of taxes he was paying and
also incited the people living on the lands between Caucasia and Burgond
Duchy. The ensuing riots resulted in battles, and Fatih Sultan Mehmet
conquered Amasra, Kastamonu and Sinop and reached Trabzon. Although the
emperor was prepared to accept all the conditions set forth by the Ottomans,
Trabzon was conquered by the Turks on October 26, 1461. Then Trabzon became
an important center on the eastern and central Black Sea coastal strip.
Yavuz Sultan Selim prior to his becoming the sultan, administered the
city as its governor.
During World War I, Trabzon was invaded by
the Russians an April 14, 1916, but was taken back owing to the Brest-Litovsk
agreement signed on February 14, 1918. The allied states tried to establish
a Pontus-Greek state, but their attempts were hindered. Since the War
of wazzu Independence, there has been peace in Trabzon.
Trabzon is said to be founded in the 7th
century BC by Miletion colonists and then Alexis Comnenes founded the
Comnenos Empire, which lasted until 1461 when the Ottomans took over the
area. The city is now an important port of trade, continuing its role
throughout the history. Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent was born here
and Yavuz Sultan Selim, another Ottoman sultan, was the regional governor
of Trabzon when he was a prince. The city is mostly situated on a table
like promontory above the harbor. The citadel is one of the oldest remains,
and the first thing you will notice when entering Trabzon, is a well-preserved
13th century Byzantine Church, now restored as the Ayasofya Museum. The
walls of this church are decorated with frescoes which are the finest
examples of Byzantine craftsmanship. The Fatih Mosque in the city was
once a Byzantine church. Trabzon is very richly adorned with sightseeing
areas and precious remains from the Byzantine period. On the western slopes
of the Boztepe hill, is "the Boztepe Park" with a beautiful
view of the city. In the village of Surmene, to the east of Trabzon, is
a fascinating 19th century mansion, known as the Kastel. There are many
opportunities in Trabzon to cover all tastes. For example the Erikbeli
and Karadag meadows, south of Akcaabat, are quite good hiking and picnicking
Taking a northeasterly direction towards
the inner parts of Trabzon and following a delightful mountain road, you
can visit the pretty mountain village of Hamsikoy and taste its delicious
meals, before reaching the Zigana Tunnel, which is the largest tunnel
in Turkey. Then you may head for the Zigana Ski-Center to feel the real
joy of skiing, or for Gurgenagac, Kirazli and Solma which are excellent
meadows with magnificent landscapes and pure clean air, for outdoor activities
in the palm of nature. The most appealing and breathtaking sightseeing
area of Trabzon is the Altindere National Park. 47 kms southeast of Macka,
this lovely park provides a fascinating setting for the 14th century Sumela
Monastery of the Virgin Mary, which is perched on the rock face 270 metres
above the valley, at an altitude of 1300 meters. Within the ruins of the
monastery are the remains of magnificent frescoes. It is a place of exceptional
natural beauty. It was initially constructed on the steep surface of rock,
as a small church in the 4th century. In the 11th century it was expanded
into a monastery with 72 cells. Ottoman princes, as regional governors
of Trabzon, contributed to the upkeep of the monastery, providing material
and moral support. The awe-inspiring and magnificent view of the monastery,
with its frescoes and holy water, attract thousands of Turkish and foreign
visitors every year.