HistoryTrabzon was founded around 756 BC by Greek colonists from Sinope, who hailed from Miletus. They called their new colony Trapezous, ancient Greek for "table", due to the topography of the central hill, squeezed between two rivers with steep cliffs on both sides. Trabzon has been a major trade centre through history—for long, it was a main port-of-call on one of the main routes between Europe and Persia and beyond, which involved taking a ship across the Black Sea from Romania (and later Constantinople). After the Roman conquest, the city was given a new harbor and a paved road towards Persia. The road fostered trade and cultural exchange, and was used for attacks on the Persian Empire during the Roman and Byzantine periods. After a Turkmen attack on the city was repelled by a local force in the 1080s, the city broke relations with the Byzantine Empire and acted as an independent state. The Mongol sack of Baghdad diverted more trade caravans from Tabriz to Trabzon and the city grew in wealth from the taxes it could impose on trade between Europe, Persia and China. The city traded intensely with Genoa and to a lesser extent with Venice during the early renaissance, with some cultural influences going both ways. During this era, Trabzon was visited by many travellers, Marco Polo being among them.
In medieval times, the city served as the capital of the Empire of Trebizond ruled by the Komnenos family, which also provided several emperors to the Byzantine throne in Constantinople. The longest surviving rump Byzantine state, Trabzon was captured by the Ottoman Turks in 1461, almost a decade after the fall of Constantinople.
During the 18th and 19th centuries Europeans wishing to explore the Caucasus, Iran and the eastern domains of the Ottoman Empire used Trabzon as a point of departure or return. The first world war left deep scars in the city; it lost many of its young male Muslims at the battle of Sarıkamış in 1914, its entire Armenian population in the genocide of 1915, and most of its Greek inhabitants during the population exchange of 1923. Closed borders with the Soviet Union meant that the city could only recover culturally and economically in the 1970s. Trabzon today is a city under reconstruction, but offers many historical, cultural and natural sights. The city constitutes the largest urban metropolitan region of Turkey's Black Sea coast, with nearly 1 million inhabitants. Trabzon functions as the cultural capital of the Turkish Black Sea coast, and its inhabitants are very proud of their city and region.
Trabzon has just returned on the tourist radar, and the city is still investing in tourist infrastructure. Like a few other Turkish cities like Istanbul and Izmir, Trabzon is culturally located somewhat in between Anatolia and Eastern Europe. In the case of Trabzon this is due to the Pontic Mountains, which used to form a cultural barrier. Coming from the Anatolian heartland, it feels like one is entering Europe, while coming from the Caucasus, Trabzon comes across as the first city with Middle-Eastern influences. Tourists who visit Trabzon come mostly from a few countries: nearby Georgia, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Azerbaijan, New Zealand and the Gulf states.
Trabzon lies in a humid subtropical zone with high precipitation throughout the year. In the winter there is the chance of some snow cover in the city. The climate of the city differs greatly from that of the mountainous hinterland. Snowstorms frequently isolate the high mountain villages from the outside world for weeks on end. Rural life in the province moves along traditional transhumance patterns similar to communities in the Caucasus; each settlement is divided in multiple villages for each season. Thus most villages above 1200 m remain unsettled during the winter months. At the Zigana-pass south of the city there is a small ski-resort.
TalkThe Eastern Black Sea Region has its own dialect, which is more influenced by Greek and Persian than Anatolian varieties of Turkish. Because of the isolation of the coastal cities, the dialect retained archaic grammar and vocabulary that has been lost in other Turkish dialects. The most striking example is the absence of vowel harmony, one of the building blocks of all Turkic languages. This means that the local dialect can sound funny to speakers of 'standard' Anatolian or Istanbul Turkish. Much Turkish low-brow humor revolves around characters from Trabzon, but the locals don't appreciate the jokes that are made at their expense. The western districts of Trabzon province form a gradual transition area to Anatolian Turkish. This Turkish will be more easily understood for tourists who have studied the language. Next to old varieties of Turkish, there are some minority languages that are spoken, mostly in the rural communities to the southwest and southeast of the city. Romeyka is the most archaic Greek language spoken now; its speakers are concentrated in the Of-valley along the Solakli river in the villages on the mountain slopes in Caykara district and surrounding areas. There are also small pockets of Greek-speaking Muslim villages in Tonya and Surmene districts. Most locals don't like being called Greek; instead they use the terms 'Rum' or "Romioi" (meaning Roman/Byzantine) to describe their heritage. However, research has shown they are very proud of their language, and they are happy to use it to converse with Greek-speaking tourists. It is still possible to find Pontic Greek speakers in Trabzon city, and tourists should not be afraid to openly speak Greek in public space. It is more likely however that one finds a local who is fluent in German, Dutch or Russian. English language courses are immensely popular among the young generation, but it is not yet as common as in neighboring Georgia. There are small groups of Georgians and Ukrainians in the city. One of the most remarkable languages in the Trabzon region is whistled in several villages straddling the border of Trabzon and Giresun provinces. It is one of a few whistled languages in the world, and it is kept alive through a yearly festival in Kuşköy (Bird village).
ReadTrabzon has long been touted as the "city of tale in the East". Its historical prominence, intellectual independence and trade relations with Italian city-states were elements that earned Trebizond a legendary mythical place in European literature until well after its economic and cultural peak when it functioned as the capital of the Empire of Trebizond in the 14th and 15th century (both Don Quixote and Picrochole wished to possess the city). The most renowned work of modern literature that describes the city is Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond. Travellers interested in classical history might want to read Xenophon's Anabasis, in which Trabzon enters as the first Greek city the soldiers encounter after their retreat from Persia. For those interested in the Renaissance trade relations of Trabzon, there is The Spring of the Ram, the second book from the series The House of Niccolò by Dorothy Dunnett, and The Burnished Blade by Lawrence Schoonover. Popular Turkish novels which feature the city are Pomegranate Tree by Nazan Bekiroglu and Aleko of Trebizond by Kadri Özcan. L'immortelle de Trébizonde, a French novel about the Armenian genocide by Paule Henry Bordeaux, has been republished, and Anyush is a publication by Martine Madden. Those making a trip along the Black Sea could read Kéraban the Inflexible by Jules Verne; Turkish students recreating the journey concluded the trip was even more difficult two centuries later. Those heading to Georgia might want to read about the myths of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece; those heading west, to Samsun or Sinop, about the Amazons.
phone: +90 462 3264760For general tourist information. The staff speak English very well and provide a wealth of information about Trabzon and its surroundings (pdf). Before doing anything in Trabzon, go to the tourist office.
phone: +90 462 3280940By daily planes from Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. There are also planes from Adana (Pegasus Airlines) and Bursa (Borajet), as well as scheduled international flights from certain European and regional cities.
By carThe largely 6-lane D010 coastal highway is of high quality, and can bring you to Trabzon within 2½ hours from the border with Georgia and within 4½ hours from Samsun. The E97 is the main road connecting Trabzon to the rest of Anatolia, it runs south to Gümüşhane and then eastward towards Bayburt. The D915 from Bayburt to Of via Caykara has been chosen as the most dangerous road in the world and should not be attempted during winter. It does offer beautiful views on the surrounding landscape.
Bus Stationphone: +90 462 325 2343address: Terminal Sk
It might be a good idea to book tickets in advance. There are many travel and ticket agent shops around Atatürk Meydanı (the main square in Trabzon) who can help with this. You can get bus tickets for Trabzon on this site.
There are ferries twice weekly from Sochi on Russia Black Sea coast. They take 5-6 hours and costs US$ 110/passenger one way. Timetable available at Sochi port's website (in Russian).
On footThe center of Trabzon is walkable; most of its historical sights lie in an area of 1½ km by 500 m. This includes the area around central Meydan square in the east, the bazaar quarter in the center, and the historic walled city towards the west. If one is interested in taking in as many historical sights as possible, it is advisable to plan several walks around these different areas of the city. The historic city was built on a hill between two ravines (Zagnos to the west and Kuzgun to the east), thus there is a lot of height difference between neighbourhoods, and travellers should be prepared to climb up and down stairs and walk streets with steep inclinations. Car traffic has been limited through the historic neighborhoods, making it safer for pedestrians. Since the arrival of the coastal highway the city has been amputated from the sea. To alleviate this the city has started constructing a promenade along most of its 5 km-long western coast. With few restaurants or other facilities, it has yet to regain its historic attractiveness.
By minibusNotable locations outside the central zone are the Hagia Sophia to the west of the city and Boztepe tea garden overlooking the city towards the southeast. To get to these locations one best uses a minibus (dolmuş). There are dolmuş stops on Kahramanmaraş Street west off Meydan square.
There is also a small minibus station just southeast of Meydan, under the viaduct. For transport towards one of the villages towards the east of Trabzon and in Rize province, there is again a different dolmus station along the coastal road.
Local minibus stationBuses to neighborhoods of Trabzon and surrounding villages.
Regional minibus stationBuses to villages in Trabzon and Rize provinces.
Churches and mosquesTrabzon has dozens of churches and mosques dating from the Byzantine period, the Empire of Trebizond and the Ottoman Empire. During the classical period the city at least had temples for Hermes (the god of trade), Apollo (war), and multiple Mithraeum for the Persian-Greek god Mithras. A bronze statue of Hermes can be found in the basement of the Trabzon Museum. On the places of these temples, which were destroyed for the most part in the 3rd century, Christian chapels were built. The oldest surviving church is the 6th or 7th century Armenian church of St. Anna, which was built to the east of the Kuzgun (Tabakhane) valley because Armenians were not allowed to live inside the city walls. After the Ottoman conquest most churches within the walled city were converted into mosques. Many of these buildings retained some elements that hint at their Christian past. During the 18th and 19th centuries there was a boom in the construction of mosques and churches. Most of the historic churches and mosques of the city survived the first world war and the building frenzy of the 1980s onward. One of the most famous churches of the city however, the 19th century Saint Gregory of Nyssa, which stood on the rocky outcrop at the former Genoese castle Leonkastron, overlooking both harbors of the city, was dynamited in 1930.
Hagia Sophiaaddress: Ayasofya CaddesiA 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. The portico on the south side of the church has a freeze running above an arch that rests on two Corinthian columns, which were probably part of a previous classical temple at the site. The columns in the western portico leading to the narthex, however, are styled with muqarnas, showing eastern Anatolian influences. The use of arches, freezes and muqarnas is atypical for Byzantine churches. The church has a freestanding square bell tower, which is unique among churches of the Black Sea region. It houses a small chapel on its second floor. Invisible from its exterior, the internal walls of the bell tower are covered in frescoes. There is a peaceful open-air tea garden on the grounds. Just north of the church the foundation of a previous chapel can be seen. While the main hall of the church was converted into a mosque in 2013 (its legal status is still under debate), all of the best preserved frescoes are still visible in the narthex. In December 2017 it was announced that the building will be renovated again, making all the frescoes and Opus Sectile floor mosaics visible to tourists.
Hagia Annaaddress: Ziyaret Sk No:9According to an inscription on the facade, this small basilican church was restored in the 9th century. It is possibly one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating to the 6th or 7th century. Visitors are welcomed by carvings of a soldier and a winged Nike on the spolia inserted as lintel above the entrance. In 2018 the church-building was opened for tourists. Just south of the church stands the imposing 'office of the chamber of mechanical engineers' (Makina Mühendisleri Odası).
Former Panagia KhrysokephalosThe 'Golden domed church of All Saints' was built in the 10th or 11th century on the foundations of an earlier church in the center of the walled Middle Town. Until the 4th century AD it was the site of a Mithraeum. The late-Roman Opus Sectile mosaic floor of the original church is one of the best preserved of its kind. A raised glass floor was constructed during a renovation in 2017, enabling visitors to study the mosaic. The superstructure has the form of a basilica. During the middle ages and early Renaissance the church functioned as the main cathedral of the city. It was the location of the coronation ceremonies for the rulers of the Empire of Trebizond. The church was turned into a mosque immediately following the Ottoman takeover of the city in 1461. The mosque is closed to visitors for restoration works, which are scheduled to conclude early 2018. During the restoration several frescoes were also uncovered. It is unclear if these murals will also be made visible to tourists.
Former Hagios Eugeniosaddress: Cami Sk 26-76The former church dedicated to the patron saint of the city. Dates from the late 13th to 14th century. Converted into a mosque before 1523.
St Mary Catholic Churchaddress: Sümer SkThe Catholic Santa Maria church is the only church in Trabzon which has regular masses. The church was founded by Italian Capuchin monks who came to Trabzon after they were expelled from Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1845 by Russian Tsar Nicholas.
St John Churchaddress: Haneci Sokak (1. Çulha Sk.)This church is mostly used as a cultural centre
Former St. Philip ChurchBuilt by the Komnenoi. Converted into a mosque before 1665.
Former St Andreas ChurchFormer 11th-century Byzantine church of St. Andreas (Andrew).
Yeni Kemerkaya MosqueFormer church built in 1838
Hızırbey MosqueOttoman mosque built in 1789 around a pre-existing church.
Former St Elefterios ChurchMedieaval church, converted into a mosque in 1953. The building has been defaced with a kitsch facade and a LED ticker board. Also, the municipality has started demotion of large parts of the historical port quarter Çömlekçi, where the former church is located.
Former St Akindynos ChurchFormer church built at the time of the Empire of Trebizond. Converted into a mosque sometime before 1665.
Islamic architectureMuch of the Islamic architecture in Trabzon makes use of Seljuk and local Pontic/Caucasian references, instead of Ottoman ones found in other Turkish cities. Baroque Revivalism was also quite popular, and still has some influence on new mosque constructions.
İskender Pasha Mosqueaddress: Meydan Cami SkBuilt by governor İskender (Alexander) Pasha in 1529. This mosque lies just east of Meydan square.
Bazaar Mosqueaddress: Çarşı Cami SokakThis late Baroque mosque was built in 1839 by governor Hazinedarzade Osman Paşa in the center of the market quarter. It is the oldest surviving mosque in the city with clear Western European architectural influences.
Gulbahar Hatun Mosque & Tombaddress: Yavuz Selim Bulvarı (Tanjant Cd.)Founded in 1514 by the then governor (and later Sultan) Selim, in honor of his mother. The mosque was repaired in 1883.
İçkale MosqueBuilt in 1470 this was probably the first mosque to be constructed in the city. It is a small mosque on the acropolis of the old town, near the former palace. It was restored in the 19th century. The minaret dates to the 1960s.
Hacı Kasım Muhittin MosqueOttoman mosque.
Erdoğdu MosqueFirst constructed in 1537, the current version of the mosque dates to 1557. It lies on top of a hill in the center of the neighborhood with the same name (to the southwest of the walled old town). Immediately besides it stands a larger modern mosque.
Tabakhane MosqueMosque built in the 1980s on the location of a previous 16h century mosque, next to the Tabakhane bridge.
Marketgate MosqueModern (1987) reconstruction of Ottoman mosque. The first mosque at this location was built in 1563. Closed for renovation work.
Tekke MosqueOttoman mosque, built in 1591.
Hamza Paşa MosqueOttoman mosque, built in 1745.
Hacı Salih MosqueOttoman mosque, built in 1860.
Tavanli MosqueOttoman mosque, built in 1874.
Ahi Evren Dede MosqueOttoman mosque, built in 1890
Haji Yahya MosqueSmall Ottoman mosque
Hoca Halil Mosque MosqueSmall Ottoman mosque first built in 1553. Rebuilt in 1896 and 1963.
Hasan Ağa MosqueMosque built in 1548. This mosque lies outside the central core of the city, in the Değirmendere neighborhood to the southeast of the harbor.
Semerciler MosqueSmall Ottoman mosque, built in 1759.
Müftü Mosque1967 reconstruction of an Ottoman mosque first built in 1753.
Kızlar Monasteryaddress: Desen Sokak and Mht. Coşkun Karaağaçlı Cd. corner, Boztepe Mh.The Kızlar (girls) Monastery was the only nunnery in the city. It was built in the 1360s around one of the holy cave springs at Boztepe (mount Minthrion), which is thought to have functioned as chapel devoted to the Persian-Greek god Mithras. The rock church has frescoes depicting Alexios III, his wife Theodora and his mother Irene (who is thought to be the befector of the monastery). The monastery functioned until 1922, when the Orthodox population left the city as part of the exchange of populations between Turkey and Greece. The monastery is closed for restoration work. The municipality plans to transform it into a cultural arts center.
Kaymaklı Monasteryaddress: Hizmet Cd., Çukurçayır mah., west of Değirmendere riverThe Armenian monastery of the All-Saviour is in a suburb to the southeast of Boztepe. It is made up of a number of structures, which may not be accessible to visitors, as the monastery is in a state of disrepair. The interior of the church of the monastery is covered in frescoes.
Trabzon MuseumFormer Mansion of Banker Kostaki Teophylaktos (Kostaki Konağı), built in 1889. The first floor houses the gallery of ethnographical artefacts. In the basement is a bronze statue of the Greek god Hermes, found at Tabakhane bridge nearby. As of 2018 the museum is closed to visitors for restoration works.
City MuseumThe city museum opened its doors in 2017. It shows the history of Trabzon from its Greek inception to the Ottoman times. It also has sections on local flora and fauna, clothing, music, dance, arts and craft.
History MuseumThe History Museum was opened in 2016 in a restored mansion in the central Ortahisar neighborhood. Photographs, documents and objects displayed in themed rooms show the history of the city during the Ottoman and Republican periods. Texts and descriptions in the museum are only in Turkish. The museum also houses a library of books concerning the history of the city.
Trabzon Ataturk House Museumaddress: in Soğuksu Village
Şamil Ekinci MuseumTrophy museum of beloved football club Trabzonspor
Silk Road MuseumShows objects connected to the silk road trade. In the office of the Chamber of Trade and Industry.
Three of the historic caravanserai of the city have been restored. They are all near each other in the Bazaar district.
BedestenA former caravanserai. Restored and turned into an arts and crafts center.
Taş HanA former caravanserai. Restored.
Alaca HanA former caravanserai. Restored and turned into an arts and crafts center.
Other buildings of interest
City wallsMost of the city's defense walls and a few towers remain standing, surrounding the historic center. Only the northern section near the coastal highway has been removed. The walls can best be viewed from Zagnos bridge and park. Sections of Roman, Byzantine, Trebizond and Ottoman Empire times remain visible.
Eugenius AqueductIn the south of Zagnos Valley Park there is a small late Roman/early Byzantine aqueduct.
Kalepark FortressIt is a former Genoese fortification called Leonkastron. You can get there by walking to the northeast from the eastern end of Meydan square. There is a tea garden just west of the fortress.
Office of the chamber of mechanical engineersOne of the most interesting architectural works in the city. It faces the small Hagia Anna church.
Trabzon Bar AssociationThe former American consulate, squeezed in between Yavuz Selim boulevard southeast of cental Meydan square.
Office of the chamber of journalistsSmall but quaint historic building on the central Meydan square.
Former Trebizond Province Governors officeThis historic building now houses a cultural center.
Russian consulateThis large building is in the heart of the historic walled city.
Former PhrontisterionNow the Turkish high school Kanuni Anadolu Lisesi. This monumental building housed the main Pontic Greek school of higher learning until 1921.
Trabzon Art HouseThe former city governors mansion.
ArsenalIn the south of the Tabakhane valley lies the old armory. It is restored and now houses a restaurant.
Ortahisar education directorateMonumental building on Kahramanmaraş street.
Former Alaca Turkish Bathaddress: Kazancilar SokakA monument.
Meydanencircled by Atatürk Alanı. The central park has been renovated. There is a large statue of Ataturk which draws groups of demonstrators. But you can easily drink a relaxing tea under the trees, watch passers-by, eat on the sidewalk cafes or have a beer on one of the rooftop bars.
Zagnos bridge & valley parkA park along the western side of the ancient walled city. With views on many historic mansions. Includes a small theater and byzantine aqueduct.
Boztepe tea gardenSoutheast of the center, on a hill overlooking the city. Offers great views during day and night. Until the 3rd century AD, a tall statue of Mithra stoodguarding the city on the hill, which was at that time named after the Persian-Greek god. It was replaced by a church and later a mosque. On the hill lies the Kızlar monastery, which is being renovated to house an arts center.
Fatih ParkA public tea garden just southeast of Meydan near the Iranian consulate. Come here to relax or play a game of backgammon.
AtaparkTo the west of Zagnos bridge. It has a tea garden, Ottoman mosque, and the central public library. There is also a full-size model of a Serander, a timber structure typical of the Black Sea region meant to store food away from rodents. To the north of the park is the Varlıbaş shopping mall and the City Council building.
Kuzgun / Tabakhane valley parkThe new park along the eastern side of the city. Under construction.
Further afieldSouth of Trabzon
phone: +90 462 5311064address: Altındere Vadisi, MaçkaThe monastery is closed to visitors because of restoration works. It is unclear when the monastery will reopen again. The Hagia Varvara (St. Barbara) chapel, which lies a few dozen meters below the monastery, was restored in 2016 and is open to visitors. A video presentation with English subtitles is shown in the chapel.
The 20th century, however, was not kind to the monastery. It was abandoned following the chaos and inter-ethnic violence at the end of World War I, and the population transfer of Trabzon's (formerly Trebizond) Greek population back to Greece. Its remote location gave it some sanctuary, but its frescoes still attracted the occasional casually hurled rock by a bored shepherd. The beautiful frescoes today suffer from decades of heart-wrenchingly pointless vandalism by travelers—judging from the various alphabets and names scrawled across these impressive religious works of art, it appears that just about every culture in the world has taken part in the desecration. The buildings have been fairly heavily restored, as the Turkish government has stepped in to protect the monastery and to turn it into a museum. During restoration work in 2017 a passage was discovered leading to a hidden chapel, which has frescoes depicting life, death, heaven and hell. After the reopening in 2018 visitors will be able to view all areas of the monastery, including previously inaccessible spaces such as the library and the newly discovered chapel.
- The simplest way to get to the monastery is by tour, and you can find a tour in town by just asking any other traveller there (no tourist visits Trabzon without seeing Sümela). For instance, Eyce Tours offers round trip to Sumela for about 30 TL (address: Atatürk Alani, at Taksim İşhanı sk. 11. (462) 3267174). The Metro and Ulusoy bus companies run minibuses to the monastery during summer months from their Ataturk Alani offices.
- The monastery lies close to Maçka, about 30 km south of Trabzon, and those preferring to get to the monastery on their own means instead of taking a tour can get to Maçka by taking minibuses heading for Gümüşhane, Erzurum or other destinations south from Trabzon. There is also a direct bus connection run by Maçka municipality from Cemil Usta street south of Meydan square. The rest of the way, approximately 17 km to the actual site of monastery, can be done by hitchhiking. The dolmuş from downtown Maçka have the same price than if you would buy it from Trabzon (20 TL) and departs at 10:30, which will take you to the entrance of Altındere National Park (Milli Park). Then, the monastery is about half an hour walk away, which can be done through a forest trail, which has been widened in order to cope with the ever increasing numbers of visitors, or along the tarmac road leading to the monastery.
- Those approaching with their own vehicles can get as near as 300 m to Sümela, where there is a car-park in front of Hagia Barbara Chapel. There is an additional fee of 20 TL for cars, paid at the entrance of the national park.
Since Sümela is closed for the moment (but you still went to Maçka village for some reason), you can explore Altındere national park. Upstream along Altındere (Golden River) above the tree line are beautiful landscapes with ice cold lakes. An alternative route could lead eastward towards the ghost towns of (Dumanlı, in far northern Gümüşhane province), dispersed over a number of valleys high up the mountains. The ruins are of a collection of mining towns abandoned when their Pontic Greek inhabitants were forced out during the population transfer. Santa is accessible by a car, although getting there is an adventure in itself. Otherwise, these are multi-day treks for which you need an experienced tour guide. The best place to arrange this would be in Trabzon at one of the tourist offices off Meydan square.
Vazelon Monasteryaddress: Maçka district,Founded in 270 AD as one of the first Christian monasteries in the world. The wealth aggregated at Vazelon through taxation of the lands in the valley below were invested in the construction of some of the other monasteries in the region. Now it lies ruined and abandoned. The road is rocky and dangerous. Check current conditions, as fallen trees or other obstacles may make it impossible to access the monastery. The impressive outer walls of the monastery remain standing in large part, but the roof has collapsed entirely.
Kuştul MonasteryThe Saint George Peristereota Monastery was one of the most impressive monuments of the entire Pontus, rivaling Sumela with its dramatic location on a rocky mountaintop. The monastery was made up of multiple residential and clerical structures, including two freestanding churches. It is now almost completely ruined and exceedingly difficult to reach. To get an idea of how it looked before it was abandoned, watch the 3D reconstruction video by architect Nefidis Vladimiros on YouTube.
address: village Zigana (also called Kalkanli)This art gallery is made by Mr Azmi Aytekin, a 73-year-old painter and thinker from Zigana. He has travelled around the world, and has settled in the small village Zigana (also called Kalkanli) near the magnificent Zigana mountains. Visit his homepage for pictures.
West of Trabzon
Memorial House Museum of AkçaabatAkçaabat (former Platana, the village closest to Trabzon city) is home to dozens of historical wooden mansions in the local Neoclassical Pontic style, which resembles 19th century Northern European and American domestic architecture. It also has two church buildings, one of which is being restored.
Çal Cavesaddress: Çal, DüzköyA large set of caves with waterfalls. As of 2018 the cave is closed to visitors for renovation works.
Akçakale FortressOnly worth it if you plan on visiting the beach nearby.
East of Trabzon
Sürmene5 km to the west of Sürmene stands a ruined medieval castle. 5 km to the east stand the Memiş Ağa Konağı and the Ahmet Aga Konağı, two large restored historical mansions. Sürmene itself does not have any significant sights but may warrant a stopover to buy supplies when you plan to take the 'Caravan Road' heading south from the town towards the Pontic Mountains (see the section 'Outdoors').
Uzungöl lake & townA lake up in the mountains at an altitude of 1090 m. A great number of broken rocks from the slopes filled up Haldizen stream and Uzungöl was formed in this way. The lake is 1000 m long, 500 m in width and 15 m in depth. It is surrounded by forests. Uzungöl has an interesting view with the village houses around it. And there are some other small lakes on the mountains which are 15-20 km. from Uzungol. The lake is also surrounded by convenient tracks for hiking. There are some facilities such as bungalows and some establishments which rear trout. Travel agencies organize day tours during summer (40 TL). Uzungöl is the most touristic location in Trabzon province. Its beauty lies not so much in the lake or village itself, but more in the surrounding landscape, which is easily accessible by foot or rented bike. The closest summer settlements are on the yaylas and , just south of Uzungöl. These hamlets offer great views on the valley and are a bit less touristy than the town below. From Karester or Lustra you can further explore the alpine landscapes and traditional architecture by hiking or mountain-biking. For multi-day hikes near Uzungöl (Caykara) see the section 'Outdoors'.
Cevdet Sunay Memorial Houseaddress: Çaykara-Sultan Murat RdCevdet Sunay was the fifth president of Turkey. He was born in this small town and grew up in Trabzon. His birthplace has been a museum since 2001. It is near the Sultan Murat Yayla, where an important memorial site from the First World War is on Martyrs Hill (Şehitler Tepesi)
MansionsIn the rural districts of Trabzon one can find many historical 18th and 19th century churches, mosques and mansions.
Yakupoglu Memis Aga Mansion
Ahmet Aga Mansion
99 Window Hashim Aga Mansion
Mustafa Topal Mansion
Cakiroglu Ismail Aga Mansion
Cakiroglu Hasan Aga Mansion
Şenol Güneş StadiumWatch a match of the local football team, Trabzonspor, the most successful team in Turkey outside of Istanbul. If you are in the city on a weekend, you can watch the team at the brand new stadium.
Hayri Gür ArenaWith a capacity of 7500, it is one of the largest basketball courts in Europe.
Hamams, beaches and swimming poolsTrabzon city has been left without a beach since the construction of the coastal highway. However, there is a small public beach called Kaşüstü Plajı at Yomra town, some 10 km east of Trabzon. Larger public beaches can be found at Akçakale, 25 km to the west, and at Kalecik, 25 km to the east of the city. The water of the Black Sea is not suitable for swimming during the colder months of the year. Also, these shingle beaches don't offer the comfort or facilities that one finds in the Turkish riviera. The nearest beach holiday destinations are Giresun to the west and Batumi to the east. Within the city are 4 historical bathhouses (hamams). Two of them have retained their function and are open to the public. The central Hamam is continually operational for both sexes, while the 'Eight columned bath' in the lower part of the old town has specific days for male and females.
Central HamamTry a traditional Turkish bath (hamam). The men-only Hamam is right next to Efes Pub; the women-only Hamam is just around the corner. A really great authentic Turkish experience, and the people are very nice and will walk you through everything. 25 TL for a bath (including a scrubbing and massage) at the women's hamam, and you should also tip your masseuse.
Sekiz Direkli HamamAnother historic hamam, to the west of the bazaar quarter.
Kaşüstü Municipal Family BeachThe nearest public beach, some 10 km east of the city center.
AquaparkOutdoor swimming pool with large slides between Akçakale and Akçaabat.
Mehmet Akif Ersoy Indoor Swimming PoolOlympic-size swimming pool. Not for small children.
- Black Sea Theatre Festival Mostly (but not exclusively) groups from countries around the Black Sea participate in this festival.
- International Painting Festival Promoting painting in the wider area of Trabzon.
- Kadirga Festival (third week of June, Kadirga Yaylası, southwest Maçka district) The largest and oldest folk festival of Turkey. On the Pontic alps near the Gümüşhane province border. Locals, European Turks and Pontic Greeks meet on the mountain pastures to celebrate their shared culture in folk costume, music, dance and cuisine. On other summer pastures (yayla's) there are similar (but smaller) festivities.
- Sultan Murat Festival (Sultanmurat Şenlikleri) After the Kadirga Festival this is the largest folk festival of Trabzon. It is held in the end of August on the Sultanmurat yayla, 25 km southwest of Çaykara village.
- Ramadan The Islamic holy month (called Ramazan in Turkish) is very visible in Trabzon. While most liquor stores and restaurants close during the day, in the evening it can be hard to find a free spot on the many sidewalk cafes surrounding central Meydan square.
- Assumption Day (August 15th, Sümela Monastery) Every year since 2010 the Greek Orthodox patriarch has lead a 'divine liturgy' at the Sümela Monastery (Moní Panagías Soumelá) in Maçka district, south of the city. Because of the size and location of the monastery, only a few hundred people are allowed to join the liturgy. In Maçka village screens are set up for other pilgrims.
- Kalandar Gecesi (Calendar Night, 13-14th January) In some villages in Maçka, Tonya, Sürmene and Çaykara districs, similar to Pontic Greek Momogeroi, the "old-new year" of the Julian calendar is celebrated. The tradition goes back to pre-Christian Dionysian rituals. Locals wear traditional clothing, while others guise themselves as the demons Karakoncoloz or Momoyer, or as the 'arab traveller' Haji Firuz/Arápis.
- A historically important festival in Trabzon was Epiphany on January 6th. Thousands of Christians and Muslim onlookers gathered at Kalmek point, the place where the city protrudes the most into the Black Sea, to see the Christian ceremony. With the departure of the Greek Orthodox population, this tradition was lost to the city.
CinemaximumThe movie theater at the Forum shopping mall. Mainly shows blockbusters with Turkish subtitles.
Royal SinemaThe main cinema near central Meydan square. Also offers blockbusters with Turkish subtitles. Next door to Lara cinema, which mainly shows dubbed movies.
Avşar SinemaThis cinema is in the Varlıbaş AVM shopping mall north of Atapark (just to the west of the western city walls). Blockbusters with Turkish subtitles, but offers a slightly larger choice.
Trabzon state theaterTrabzon was one of the first Ottoman cities to house a theater, and in 1912 it was the first city in the empire outside Istanbul to have an opera house. The state theater of Trabzon still offers quality plays. Even though virtually all plays are in Turkish, the powerful performances can still move tourists.
Hamamizade İhsanbey Cultural CenterA culture center with (amongst other things) a theater hall. It is one of a few interesting works of modern architecture in the city.
Kervan Yolu (Caravan Road)One of the historic routes connecting Trabzon to Persia across the Pontic Mountains was the caravan road from Sürmene to Bayburt. Multiple inns, castles, mosques and churches line the road. As it climbs up the mountains you pass scenic villages and landscapes. The area is popular with bird watchers and nature photographers, as it is one of the most important routes for migratory birds in Turkey. The road also takes you to Mount Madur (Theches in antiquity), where Xenophon and the 10,000 first spotted the sea and shouted "Thálatta! Thálatta!", 2400 years ago. The local tourism board is promoting the route for eco-tourism.
Hiking & Mountain bikingThe traditional rural life in Trabzon province revolves around transhumant seasonal migrations with cattle. Even before the summer starts villagers head up from the agrarian settlements in the bottom of the valleys to the summer pastures above the tree line, which are called 'Yayla'. There are many hamlets on the yayla's from which one can make hikes through the surrounding alpine landscape. The higher parts of the province are popular with bird watchers and have a rich flora. Mountain biking along the relatively flat, connected pastures, is fun and doable. You will see a lot of Turkish tourists on their mountain bikes. Mountain bikes will not be available for rent in most rural villages, so the best option would be to rent them in Trabzon or Uzungöl. Some better known yayla's in Trabzon province are (from west to east):
Trekking & BikepackingThe densely forested mountain slopes and vast plains above the tree lines of Trabzon province are ideal for multi-day trekking adventures. However, for most districts there are no maps available in print or online. The exception is Çaykara district, which is the most detailed area of Turkey on Open Street Maps. Incidentally this is one of the most densely settled valleys along the Black Sea coast, which means you will never be farther than a few kilometers from the nearest village. Some villages have small hotels or home-stays, especially near Uzungöl lake, but you are always free to camp in the wild. In some villages you can also rent a traditional chalet or herder's shack on the yayla. Expect to be invited for tea in every village, especially if you have children with you. The most important languages for communication in the villages are Turkish and Greek, but especially during the summer you might also find people that speak German, English, Arabic, Dutch or Russian. The highest peaks of the Pontic Mountains in Trabzon province lie in the southeast of Çaykara district near , and reach to just over 3 km. This area is also known as Yedigöller, refering to the 'Seven Lakes' that lie between the mountaintops (not to be confused with the national park bearing the same name in the western province Bolu). It is possible to trek from Haldizen in Çaykara to yayla and plateau in Rize province, and then further eastwards to the Kackar mountains (the highest peaks of the Pontic Mountains). It is also possible to do a part of this route before returning to the coast via Ikizdere. Along the way you will pass small villages with traditional architecture. Especially the village of Çamlık - downstream from Ovit - has maintained the tradition of timber construction. These are multi-day hikes.
However, most mountaineering enthusiasts instead go directly to the Kackar mountains in next-door Rize province. Kate Clow popularized this area through her book, which includes detailed routes with coordinates.
Because dense fog can obscure a clear day within a few minutes in these mountainous areas, it is ill advised to wander around alone or without GPS. Brown bears, wolves and other wild animals can be found in the forests. It is legal to set up camp in the wild, but be sure not to leave any trash.
RaftingFırtına valley in upper Hemsin district of Rize province is ideal for rafting in Fırtına river, with its many centuries old arch bridges.
Winter sportsAlthough many valleys in the Trabzon region are suitable for winter tourism, for a long time there was no development in this direction. There is however a long tradition of locals using a contraption similar to a snowboard, called a petranboard, for transport down snow covered slopes. There is just one small ski-resort, at the Zigana-pass between Trabzon and Gümüşhane, though it is being enlarged. The only way to experience the higher pristine slopes of the Pontic Mountains to the southeast of the city is by helicopter. Heliskiing trips can be arranged from Uzungöl, Ikizdere and Ayder, but are expensive and can be dangerous for the inexperienced. A large ski-resort with multiple pistes and ski-lifts is being constructed at Uzungöl.
For those heading to Iran or the Caucasus by bike, Trabzon is likely the last city in a few thousand kilometres to have an outdoor supply store. Alternatively, you might find supplies at the many hunting or fishing shops.
Market Quarter (Bazaar)To get to the bazaar from central Meydan, walk down pedestrianized Kunduracılar street to the northwest. The hand-woven gold and silver bracelets of Trabzon are world renowned. You can find the jewellery stores in the market quarter. Most of work occurs indoors. The sound of copper-smiths can still be heard.
Uzun SokakTrabzon's main pedestrian shopping street.
Forum shopping mallA modern shopping mall offering a similar experience to large shopping malls around the globe.
Cevahir Outlet shopping mall
phone: +90 462 223 60 00address: Gülbahar Hatun Mahallesi Atapark Karşısı MerkezA shopping mall just west of the walled old town (to the north of Atapark).
Russian BazaarThe 'Russian Bazaar' is a street that runs down from Şht. İbrahim Karaoğlanoğlu street, to the east of Meydan square. You might be able to find cheap fake brands. For a more authentic bazaar experience, go to the market quarter.
Local cuisineTypical ingredients for a Black Sea meal differ greatly from those of Anatolia. Vakfikebir ekmegi is the local sourdough bread similar to Italian Pane Casareccio. It is baked in a stone oven and can weigh up to 7 kg. Because the Black Sea coast is too moist for the cereals that grow so abundantly in the rest of Anatolia, the main grain variety used in rural communities surrounding Trabzon is maize. Thus cornbread is also a popular dish. Hamsi (Anchovies) are a main staple for the region. They are typically fried and eaten whole. Fishermen from Trabzon catch about one-fifth of the Turkish total. There is even an Anchovies bread (Hamsikoli). The Black Sea region grows 70% of the worlds hazelnut production, and they are also often used in dishes. Some fruits that are grown in the region are cherries, persimmon and kiwi fruit. The Black Sea cuisine is heavy on stews and soups of vegetables and beans. It also includes many dairy dishes such as Kuymak/Muhlama, fresh cow milk and Ayran, and different types of cheeses.
The pide (pizza) and köfte (meatballs) of Trabzon are famous in Turkey for their distinctive taste. Trabzon pide is a kind of pizza with cheese and eggs, similar to Adjarian Khachapuri, but there are many varieties. Many places sell these typical dishes, a cheap but good example near the city center is "Cardak Pide Salonu".
Kuzen is also a good option: no standard kebabs but (for example) delicious wrap-like rolls filled with hot Merkez sausage. You can find it in Cevdet Akcay sokak next to the modernish shopping mall on the north side of Kahraman Marash Cad.
Eating outThere are a few restaurants at the northern side (İskele street) of Meydan square, like popular Cemilusta. Most menus revolve around meat or fish dishes. Fast-food stores and kebab shops can be found at the western end of the square. There is also ÇigköfteM, a vegetarian fast-food chain.
If you are fond of pastries, sweets and ice-cream, there are many places along Uzun Sokak selling baklava, helva and dondurma. The most famous pastry store is Beton Helva, where they combine helva and ice cream.
Most food in Trabzon is cooked to a high hygienic standard, and additionally most restaurants give you free hand wipes to clean your hands before and after eating food.
Ayasofya Müzesi Çay BahçesiFor breakfast you can visit the tea garden next to the Hagia Sophia church. There is a basic menu, but it includes some local dishes such as Muhlama (Kuymak), a type of fondue.
Bordo MaviRelaxed garden restaurant of Trabzonspor fanclub, next to the Trabzonspor Museum. One of the only restaurants in the city center that servers wine and spirits.
KalenderCozy cafe/restaurant just south of Trabzon Museum.
Kulüp Garden CafeSmall stylish garden restaurant with diverse day menu and live music. At no.7 Özüdoğru, a dead-end side street of Uzun Sokak.
Tarihi Kalkanoğlu PilavıA historic restaurant established in 1856 serving traditional dishes around pilav.
Trabzon Architects Union Garden CafeA relaxed green garden cafe with a small menu.
McDonald's & Burger KingWestern fast food can be found at the intersection of Meydan square with Kahramanmaraş Cd.
Akçaabat specialties and restaurantsAkçaabat, the historic village Platana, some 10 km west of the city, is renowned throughout Turkey for its special kind of meatballs, called Akcaabat koftesi. Made with ground meat, garlic and bread it's very delicious with ayran(yogurt mixed with water) and piyaz (beans,lettuce). There are plentiful quality restaurants 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. You can also try "kiymali" which is made with meat and served with butter. Don't forget to visit the historic neighborhood with its dozens of timber mansions when you are in Akçaabat.
Coffee & tea
Boztepe tea gardenWatch the sun set from the hill overlooking the city.
Ganita tea gardenThe tea garden right next to the old Genoese fortress Leonkastron.
Vokal Sanat Kitap ve KafeBook store annex cafe.
Reis'in YeriGrill house and tea garden just to the west of Ganita tea garden, with a view on the old Genoese fortress Leonkastron. You might be able to get a beer here.
Şişman Efes PubCentrally located, one part is men-only, the other is mixed.
BARikat rock barRooftop rock bar.
Sahne barLive music bar.
Garage Disco BarDisco just east of Meydan, in the hotel area.
Altmış Bir'a (61'a)Football pub of Trabzonspor fans.
Süleyman BarThis bar is in the Trabzon Forum shopping mall.
Mey barLive music and DJs.
Cıngıl BarBrown cafe.
RettoNightclub. You need to make reservations at 0543 647 0011
Biravoo PubNo frills interior, but unlike most bars in Trabzon it has a kitchen.
Hotel Erzurumphone: +90 462 3225427address: İskenderpaşa Mh. Güzelhisar Cd. 19Rooms come with own bathroom and TV. Friendly staff. No safety problems for solo women. This hotel is very basic: no hot water and the occasional six-legged visitor. Also noise from outside was an issue on some nights. Still a good option for those on a budget.
Otel Benliphone: +90 462 3211750, +90 462 3231046address: İskenderpaşa Mah. Meydan Cami Sk. No:5Basic hotel with clean rooms, shared bathrooms with warm water, WiFi throughout, and very helpful staff. 50 m from Atatürk Alanı (main square). Can organise transport to the Sümela monastery at the going rate of 25 TL per person round trip.
Otel Efe (old name: Otel Can)phone: +90 462 3268281
Lale Pensionphone: +90 462 259 2242Run by a local family.
Hotel Nurphone: +90 462 3230445, +90 462 3230446address: Iskenderpasa Mah. Cami Sokak
Ural Otelphone: +90 462 3211414
Elif Otelphone: +90 462 3266616
Hilton Garden Innphone: +90 462 4550000Halfway between Trabzon and Akçaabat.
Ramada Plazaphone: +90 462 3353030Luxury hotel just east of the airport. Has many facilities such as several restaurants and bars.
Novotelphone: +90 462 4559000
Zorlu Grand Otelphone: +90 462 3268400A large building on central Kahramanmaraş street
Karadeniz Technical University
- Internet in hotels and internet cafés (costing 1-2 TL/hour) is glacially slow and unreliable, with a tendency to drop connections for high-bandwidth programs, such as Skype. Trabzon municipality provides internet to folks free of charge at central parks. The city has a high-speed internet connection.
Taksim police stationThe police station just south of Meydan square
Imperial HospitalHospital in the center of the city.
Trabzon Research and Education HospitalHospital in the western part of the city.
Adnan Menderes University Research and Application HospitalHospital in the eastern part of the city.
Farabi HospitalUniversity Hospital at Karadeniz Technical University near the Airport.
Fatih State HospitalState hospital in the west of the city.
Consulate of Georgiaaddress: Pertevpasa sokak 10EU citizens don't require a visa for Georgia or can get it at the border. Thus it is not necessary for them to visit this consulate.
Consulate of Iranphone: +90 462 3267651address: Taksim Caddesi, Kızıltoprak Sokak 3Many travellers (especially Europeans) report of getting a visa easily and quickly (i.e. in a single day) here. As of Dec 2013, the consulate will issue visas to nationals of Anglophone countries (including Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Canada), but only with a reference number from an approved travel agent.
Consulate of Russiaaddress: Refik Cesur Caddesi 6Although getting a Russian visa for EU citizens usually require several weeks to process, in this embassy a visa can be obtained within a few hours.
- Rize — capital of the province to the east of Trabzon in the heart of Turkey's tea growing region. As it has no tourist attractions, it mainly functions as a stop-over for those heading to the Firtina-valley and Ayder - a village near the Kaçkar peaks, the highest point of the Pontic Mountains.
- Giresun (W 175 km) — capital of the province to the west of Trabzon, standing out with its lively nightlife; trips to a nearby island with lush vegetation can be arranged from here. The mountains behind Giresun are much lower than those in Trabzon, but offer much of the same natural and cultural beauty.
- Gümüşhane - via the Zigana Pass and Torul. Take the same path as many famous travellers before you like Xenophon and Marco Polo and cross the Zigana Pass to the south of the city.
- Kars — via Bayburt and Artvin. Cross the Pontic Mountains to the mountain fortress city of Bayburt, visit the hidden Georgian churches along the Çoruh river towards Artvin and end up in Kars - a good jump point to the nearby ancient ruins of Ani. From Kars you can either head to Georgia or south-eastern Turkey. During this trip you will see very different landscapes.
- Tonya to escape the heat and visit the surrounding green mountains.
- Georgia via Batumi. Follow thousands of Trabzonites to their favorite weekend destination, the Georgian beach holiday resort town Batumi, with its clubs and casinos, 3 hours drive east.
- Iran via Doğubeyazıt - Historically Iran was reached by Europeans through the Trabzon-Tabriz route via the Zigana-pass south of the city. This is still the main route connecting the city to Anatolia.