Trabzon is a very ancient town. Historians say that it was built in the middle of the 8th century BC. At that time the town was known as Trapezund, or Trapezus in Greek. From the beginning it was a part of Greece, being its colony. Trapezund was a strategically important place. The city had a big port on the coast of the Black sea, and lots of merchant routes from Caucasus and Anatolian states passed through it.
Due to its importance, many countries and empires wanted to have Trapezund. The city made part of the Roman and later Byzantine Empires. At the beginning of the 13th century the town became the capital of its own small Trapezund Empire which existed till the Ottoman conquest in 1461. In addition, it was the last part of Byzantine taken by the Turkish.
The life of the greatest sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent is also related to Trapezund. The great governor was born there in 1494.
What to see
Most of the historical sights in Trabzon are very old churches coming from Byzantine Empire. Almost all of these places were conquered by the Turkish and turned into mosques.
The church was built in the middle of the 13th century. It is situated in about half an hour walk from the center of the city. The church is not big, but very beautiful – with old and well-preserved frescoes on the walls. When the Muslims conquered the city and turned this church into the mosque, they wiped off the faces of the saints. The mosque is still functioning and you can get inside. The main part is left for men prayers and the small left part, where the altar used to be, serves for women prayers.
There is also a tiny garden near the Hagia Sophia. You can enjoy the picturesque view on the sea and a city from the terrace.
Mosque of the Fatih – Ortahisar
Previously, the main basilica of the Trapezund Empire and a place where the emperors were crowned. Panagia Hrisokefalos was dedicated to the Virgin. It is situated in the castle from the Middle Ages. Even after the reconstruction of the basilica into the Mosque you can still see the traits of Byzantine architecture.
The first building on the place of today’s castle is said to be built almost 2 thousand years B.C. It was the heart of the town. As the time passed, the castle grew. Nowadays there are three parts of it: the Upperr, the Middle and the Lower Castle.
It is a villa built in the beginning of the 20th century that is a typical example of Black Sea architecture. This building was given as a gift to Ataturk on his visit to the city. The Palace now serves as a museum of pieces of furniture and paintings.
You can get to Trabzon by bus from almost any city of Turkey, as well as from several Georgian cities like Tbilisi and Batumi. Being a port, Trabzon receives guests from different port-cities who come by sea. Local Turkish planes have regular flights to this city.