The name of "cherry" in many languages (including English) derives from Giresun's ancient name (Kerasous in Ancient Greek, Latinised to Cerasus) as this was where cherries were purportedly first exported to Europe, during the Roman Empire. However, it has been far better associated with the cultivation of hazelnuts; up to one-tenth of all hazelnut production in the world comes from Giresun Province (Giresun may be more famous for its local hazelnut variety, but nevertheless neighbouring Ordu tops the list with a whopping one-fifth or even more of the total world production).
Historic records reveal that the city was dominated by the Miletians, Persians, their subsidiary Kingdom of Pontus, Romans, Byzantines and the Byzantine-offshoot Empire of Trebizond. The older parts of the city are on a peninsula crowned by a ruined Byzantine fortress, sheltering the small natural harbour. Nearby is Giresun Island, in ancient times called Aretias, the only major Black Sea island in Turkish territory. According to legend, the island was sacred to the Amazons, who had dedicated a temple to the war god Ares here. Even today, fertility rites are performed there every May, usually involving the famed boulder named the Hamza Stone on the east side of the island, now shrouded as a popular practice but in reality a 4,000-year-old celebration.
Giresun has a population of about 140,000 as of the early 2020s, and has a relatively liberal culture compared with its neighbours in Eastern Karadeniz.
The closest commercial airport is Ordu-Giresun (OGU IATA), also abbreviated to Or-gi, 32 km west. It is nominally international but receives flights only from Istanbul (both airports, multiple times daily) and Ankara (once daily).
- 1 Giresun Museum (Giresun Müzesi), Atatürk Blv 62 (below the citadel, close to the waterfront), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Daily 08:00-17:00. Housed in a Greek church dating back to the 18th century, on a terrace overlooking the sea and with a view of the island. Exhibits include archaeological findings from Hellenistic to Ottoman periods, and local ethnographic paraphernalia, such as ancient houseware, weapons, carpets, and jewellery. Free.
- 2 Zeytinlik (behind the museum). This is the old quarter with numerous preserved Ottoman mansions lining its cobbled alleys, showcasing the wealth accumulated in the city by the profitable hazelnut trade.
- 3 Citadel (Giresun Kalesi) (above Zeytinlik). 24/7. A well-preserved citadel on the top of the promontory, built on the order of Pharnaces I of Pontus, son of king Mithridates III. At the highest point of the castle, there is the tomb of Atatürk’s personal guard, Topal Osman, a native. On the northern side, there is the Martyr’s Cemetery and the tomb of Kurbande, a follower of Haji Bektash Veli, a 13th-century Sufi saint. Free.
- 4 Giresun Island (Giresun Adası). This is the only significant Turkish island in the Black Sea — most of the rest are just tiny rocks. Just 1.2 km offshore, you can rent a boat to sail there. Hidden from view by dense shrubbery and trees are the ruins of a roofless temple and some fortifications, believed to be used by the Amazons, a legendary clan of all-female warriors who terrorized the lands around the Black Sea in ancient times.
- 5 Kuzalan Nature Park (Kuzalan Tabiat Parkı) (off D865 signposted to Dereli and Sivas, 47 km south of Giresun). This is a very scenic area along a river gorge through the Pontic Mountains. The first attraction as you approach from Giresun is the waterfalls on a mountainside, with a lookout just at the side of the road across the valley. The stream cascades down in another set of waterfalls 1 km along into Mavi Göl ("blue lake") — named for its ice blue waters in a great contrast with its lush mountainous setting, thanks to the soda content — again with lookouts over the area and a plankway through the forest leading to its rim. 3 km further on, the flow gets slowed down enough to settle its mineral content into a series of Pamukkale-like travertine pools, again in an ice blue, at Göksu Travertenleri ("sky-blue travertines").
- Ada Otel, Osmanağa Cd Çapulacılar Sk 8, ☏ . Check-out: noon. Central, no-frills one-star hotel in a side street. Very good value, with buffet breakfast, wi-fi and free parking at adjacent garage.
- Otel Kale (up a steep cobblestoned street leading to the university). Basic, no-star, clean, free wi-fi, cheapest option.
- Hotel Kit-Tur (on the main shopping street leading 100 m uphill from the harbor). 3-star, but with low prices, very good value.
Telephone code of Giresun is (+90) 454.
|Routes through Giresun|
|Samsun ← Ordu ←||W E||→ Trabzon → Rize|