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Trabzon (formerly Trebizond) is the largest city in the Eastern Karadeniz region of Turkey. Trabzon functioned as an independent state or empire during several periods in its long history, ruling over a vast area from Sinop in the west to Georgia in the east, even including territory in Crimea. Within Turkey Trabzon is known as a hospitable, energetic, traditional and patriotic city, which is culturally somewhat distinct from the rest of the country.
Trabzon 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.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Trabzon has just returned on the tourist radar, and the city is still investing in tourist infrastructure. Like a few other Turkish cities such as 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 experiences a mild, humid, and very cloudy oceanic climate, like most of the Black Sea coastline. However, Trabzon's sheltered location allows it to stay warmer and drier than most of the regions that surround it, especially in winter. This causes the city to show some characteristics of a humid subtropical climate.
Summers in Trabzon are warm, humid, and often mostly cloudy. Rain is frequent, but often light and brief, owing — as usual — to its sheltered location. This is generally a good time to visit, although high humidity does sometimes become a problem, especially at night.
Winters are cool with long stretches of northerly winds bringing temperatures down to slightly above the freezing mark, and rainy, or less frequently, snowy weather. These periods are bridged by mild to warm, clear days, caused by dry, southerly winds descending the mountains. This can raise the temperature to above 18-19 °C, creating almost summerlike conditions.
Spring and fall are both mild, but they differ in rainfall. Fall is the rainiest time of year, as Western European windstorms, some of which restrengthen in the Black Sea after hitting Europe, are most common during this time. Spring, on the other hand, is relatively dry and often the time with the most sunshine, even though one really shouldn't expect to see sunny skies at any time of the year when traveling to this region of Turkey.
The Eastern Black Sea Region has its own dialect of Turkish, more influenced by Greek and Persian than the Anatolian varieties. 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 restricted use 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 in current times; its speakers are concentrated in the Of-valley along the Solaklı river in the villages on the mountain slopes in Çaykara district and surrounding areas. There are also small pockets of Greek-speaking Muslim villages in Tonya and Sürmene 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, they are very proud of their language, and they are happy to use it to converse with Greek-speaking tourists. Speakers of Modern Greek are generally unable to understand the local dialect, while people that have an understanding of Pontic or Cypriot Greek, or those who have an advanced education in Classical Greek, are able to engage with locals in basic conversations. 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, French or Russian.
English language courses are immensely popular among the young generation, but it is not yet as commonly spoken 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, kuş dili, 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).
Trabzon 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.
The Black Sea region, and Trabzon in particular, has an important place in the history of Turkish theater, photography and cinema. The Pontic Greeks of Trebizond were among the first groups in the Ottoman Empire to establish theaters, musical venues and photography studios as early as the 1870s, and they were soon followed by the Armenian and Turkish population of the province. The long history of the city - and that of the Pontus in general - had already led to the creation of musicals and operas in Western Europe, such as Offenbach's The Princess of Trebizond, which is still a popular play for theater groups around the world. The scenic pastoral environments surrounding the city, as well as the diverse local cultures and rich local folklore, has inspired many modern Turkish movie directors. Cinema from the region often addresses issues such as migration, isolation from modern society, dysfunctional or traumatized families, or mental health issues. Some notable films that have been recorded in the region are: Pandora's Box (about a woman suffering from Alzheimer) and Waiting for the Clouds (about an elderly Pontic Greek woman rediscovering her past) by Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Bal by Semih Kaplanoğlu (about a young boy in the mountains who has to learn to deal with grief), Cold of Kalandar by Mustafa Kara (about the struggle of a farmer hoping to strike gold during a strong winter), Zephyr by Belma Baş (about a youg girl who is abandoned by her mother), and Autumn by Özcan Alper (about the struggle of a former convict when he returns to his home soil).
Trabzon has its own musical culture, which stands apart from the rest of the country in rhythm, instrumentation and lyrical narratives, and has some Caucasian influences. Trabzon music is typically made to dance. Especially the 'Horon' circle dance has been a binding agent between the local people for millennia. The most popular topics of folk singers from Trabzon are melancholy for a lost childhood in the mountains, memories of a deceased friend or parent, or a doomed love affair (such as between a wealthy person and a peasant, or a Muslim and a Christian). Music from the region typically features prominently the local national instrument - the 'Kemençe' violin - and sometimes makes use of minority languages, such as Romeyka Greek or Laz. 'Karadenizli' (Black Sea) music is popular throughout the country, however, and local artists often collaborate with other Turkish artists, and musicians from the Pontic Greek diaspora in Greece. Some of the most popular artists from the region are Kazim Koyuncu, Volkan Konak, Apolas Lermi, Onur Atmaca, Ekin Uzunlar, and Adem Ekiz.
- Tourist office (Trabzon Turizm Bürosu) (one block to the east of Atatürk Alani square, down Camii Sk., just beyond Hotel Nur), ☏ . For 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.
Not by train: Trabzon is the largest city in Turkey to entirely lack a railway, which it needs for its Black Sea freight. They've been talking about building one for over a century and look set to continue.
Not by boat either: Black Sea ferries no longer sail here.
- 1 Trabzon Airport (TZX IATA) (E 10 km (6.2 mi) - Beşirli-Airport Bus transfer to the city with seven stops, the last (most western point) at Beşirli Uzunkum Hotel), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. By 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.
The 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.
- 2 Bus Station (Otogar Trabzon), Terminal Sk (~2½ km east. There will be a "servis" (free shuttle bus) from the bus station to the city center. You can also walk up Terminal Sokak to the north and catch a dolmuş on the corner on Devlet Karayolu Cd. to Meydan (costs 5TL - March 2022).), ☏ .
In high season it is a good idea to book your trip ahead online.
- Buses from/to all major cities in Turkey. Example (price, journey time, density): Istanbul (120-140 TL, 18 hr, several per day), Kayseri near Cappadocia (12 hr, daily), Kars (daily bus at 09:30 and midnight, 8 hr), Ardahan (45 TL, at 12:30), Doğubeyazıt (leaves at 22:00, arriving 10:00), Ulusoy (4-6 per day, 5 hr), Torul and Gümüşhane (hourly until 20.00).
- From/to Georgia: Tbilisi (about 12 hr) which serve as a useful point of entry to the country from Caucasus, also hourly leaves a bus to Batumi (if the border crossing is too busy, the bus might turn around at the Georgian border, so be sure to get all your belongings off the bus. On the Georgian side you can take a minibus for 1 lari to bring you the short distance to the center of Batumi—you need a Batumi Card to pay the bus, but just ask some passengers and give em 1 lari. Otherwise, many buses coming from the Caucasus heading to Istanbul pass through Trabzon. The buses themselves are quite good. No toilets on board but they stop every 3-4 hr for breaks, and free hot drinks are served throughout the journey.
- From/to Azerbaijan: In the morning there are two bus connections heading to Baku.
The 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.
Notable 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.
- 3 Local minibus station (Dolmuş gar) (to the south of central Meydan, under the viaduct). Buses to neighborhoods of Trabzon and surrounding villages.
- 4 Regional minibus station (Dolmuş gar) (down the hill and to the east of central Meydan, west of the coastal road). Buses to villages in Trabzon and Rize provinces.
Churches and mosques
Trabzon 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 (sun), 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.
- 1 Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), Ayasofya Caddesi (west 3 km, you can reach here by any Dolmuş marked 'Aya Sofya', which depart from the north side of Atatürk Alani square; the ride take 5-10 minutes, and costs about 1.5 TL). This should be one of your sights while in Trabzon. A beautiful and picturesque church converted into a mosque that still has stunning frescoes within—just like the church of the same name 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. After heavy criticism by the local chamber of architects on manner in which the conversion was conducted, the building was renovated again between 2018 and 2020. It has since been reopened, with all frescos and the Opus Sectile floor mosaic made visible. The frescos in the dome are obscured by translucent discs only when you stand directly underneath them, as this is the part of the church that is now sometimes used for Islamic services.
- 2 Hagia Anna (Saint Anne Church, Küçük Ayvası Kilise), Ziyaret Sk No:9. According to an inscription on the façade, 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. Since 2018 the church-building has been opened for tourists during the summer. Usually a few elderly men from the neighborhood play backgammon just outside the entrance, keeping watch. Few remains of the interior, however. Just south of the church stands the imposing 'office of the chamber of mechanical engineers' (Makina Mühendisleri Odası).
- 3 Former Panagia Khrysokephalos (Fatih Camii). The '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 (you have to lift up the carpet!). 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 was thoroughly restored in 2018, revealing more of its original details.
- 4 Former Hagios Eugenios (Church of Saint Eugene, Yeni Cuma Camii), Cami Sk 26-76 (in the neighborhood Yenicuma, just south of Yavuz Selim Blv). The former church dedicated to the patron saint of the city. Dates from the late 13th to 14th century. Converted into a mosque before 1523.
- 5 St Mary Catholic Church (Santa Mariya Katolik Klisesi), Sümer Sk. The 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.
- 6 St John Church (Sotka Kilisesi), Haneci Sokak (1. Çulha Sk.). This church is mostly used as a cultural centre
- 7 Former St. Philip Church (Kudrettin Camii). Built by the Komnenoi. Converted into a mosque before 1665.
- 8 Former St Andreas Church (Molla Siyah Camii or Nakib Camii). Former 11th-century Byzantine church of St. Andreas (Andrew).
- 9 Yeni Kemerkaya Mosque (Kemerkaya Cami). Former church built in 1838
- 10 Hızırbey Mosque (Hızırbey Cami). Ottoman mosque built in 1789 around a pre-existing church.
- 11 Former St Elefterios Church (Hüsnü Gökkuş Paşa Camii or Çömlekçi Camii). Medieaval 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 Church (Küçük Fatih Camii or Kindinar Camii). Former church built at the time of the Empire of Trebizond. Converted into a mosque sometime before 1665.
Much 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.
- 12 İskender Pasha Mosque (İskender Paşa Camii), Meydan Cami Sk. Built by governor İskender (Alexander) Pasha in 1529. This mosque lies just east of Meydan square.
- 13 Bazaar Mosque (Çarşı Camii), Çarşı Cami Sokak. This 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.
- 14 Gulbahar Hatun Mosque & Tomb (Gülbahar Hatun Camii), 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.
- 15 İçkale Mosque (İçkale Camii). Built 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.
- 16 Hacı Kasım Muhittin Mosque (Hacı Kasım Muhittin Cami). Ottoman mosque.
- 17 Erdoğdu Mosque (Erdoğdu Camii or Erdoğdu Bey Mescidi). First 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.
- 18 Tabakhane Mosque (Tabakhane Camii). Mosque built in the 1980s on the location of a previous 16th-century mosque, next to the Tabakhane bridge.
- 19 Marketgate Mosque (Pazarkapı Cami). Modern (1987) reconstruction of Ottoman mosque. The first mosque at this location was built in 1563. Closed for renovation work.
- 20 Tekke Mosque (Tekke Cami). Ottoman mosque, built in 1591.
- 21 Hamza Paşa Mosque (Hamza Paşa Camii). Ottoman mosque, built in 1745.
- 22 Hacı Salih Mosque (Hacı Salih Cami). Ottoman mosque, built in 1860.
- 23 Tavanli Mosque (Tavanli Cami). Ottoman mosque, built in 1874.
- 24 Ahi Evren Dede Mosque. Ottoman mosque, built in 1890
- 25 Haji Yahya Mosque (Haji Yahya Cami). Small Ottoman mosque
- 26 Hoca Halil Mosque Mosque (Hoca Halil Cami). Small Ottoman mosque first built in 1553. Rebuilt in 1896 and 1963.
- 27 Hasan Ağa Mosque (Hasan Ağa Cami). Mosque built in 1548. This mosque lies outside the central core of the city, in the Değirmendere neighborhood to the southeast of the harbor.
- Semerciler Mosque (Semerciler Camii). Small Ottoman mosque, built in 1759.
- 28 Müftü Mosque (Müftü Cami). 1967 reconstruction of an Ottoman mosque first built in 1753.
- 29 Kızlar Monastery (Panagia Monastery, Kızlar Manastırı), 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.
- 30 Kaymaklı Monastery (Monastery of the All-Saviour, Ամենափրկիչ Վանք), Hizmet Cd., Çukurçayır mah., west of Değirmendere river (2 km East). The 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.
- 31 Trabzon Museum (Trabzon Müzesi ('Kostaki Konağı')) (in the center of the city). The 'Trabzon museum' is housed in an eclectic mansion built by native Pontic Greek banker Kostaki Teophylaktos in 1889. It was designed by an Italian architect, and fuses eastern (the domed tower) and western (the Neo Mannerist main structure) architectural elements. The first floor houses a gallery of ethnographical artefacts. In the basement stands a 2nd century BC bronze statue of the Greek god Hermes, found at Tabakhane bridge nearby. Since 2018 the museum has been closed to visitors for major restoration work, which as of late 2021 seems to have come to a standstill. It is unknown when the museum will reopen.
- 32 City Museum (Trabzon Kent Müzesi). The 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.
- 33 History Museum (Ortahisar Tarih Müzesi). The 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.
- 34 Trabzon Ataturk House Museum (Trabzon Atatürk Köşkü Müzesi), in Soğuksu Village. This late 19th-century retreat - built by one of the many Pontic Greek bankers of the city, Konstantin Kabayanidis - has been well preserved in time. Like many of his fellow well-to-do Trabzonites, Kabayanidis tasked a foreign architect to design the structure. The resulting building has some elements that are unique to the area - such as the curved roof and outer walls, and a stark white finish of the exterior. The design shows some similarity with contemporary domestic architecture in Crimea. Thanks to a short stay in the mansion in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, it has grown into a popular destination for Turkish tourists.
- 35 Şamil Ekinci Museum (Trabzonspor Müzesi). Trophy museum of beloved football club Trabzonspor
- 36 Silk Road Museum (Ipekyolu Müzesi). Shows 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.
- 37 Bedesten. A former caravanserai. Restored and turned into an arts and crafts center.
- 38 Taş Han. A former caravanserai. Restored.
- 39 Alaca Han. A former caravanserai. Restored and turned into an arts and crafts center.
Other buildings of interest
- 40 City walls (Fortress of Trabzon (Kalesi)). Most 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.
- 41 Eugenius Aqueduct (Kemeri). In the south of Zagnos Valley Park there is a small late Roman/early Byzantine aqueduct.
- 42 Kalepark Fortress (Güzelhisar). It 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, but as of early 2022 this area is undergoing major renovations.
- 43 Office of the chamber of mechanical engineers (Makina Mühendisleri Odası). One of the most interesting architectural works in the city. It faces the small Hagia Anna church.
- 44 Trabzon Bar Association. The former American consulate, squeezed in between Yavuz Selim boulevard southeast of cental Meydan square.
- 45 Office of the chamber of journalists. Small but quaint historic building on the central Meydan square.
- 46 Former Trebizond Province Governors office. This historic building now houses a cultural center.
- 47 Russian consulate. This large building is in the heart of the historic walled city.
- 48 Former Phrontisterion (Kanuni Anadolu Lisesi). Now the Turkish high school Kanuni Anadolu Lisesi. This monumental building housed the main Pontic Greek school of higher learning until 1921.
- 49 Trabzon Art House (Trabzon Sanat Ev (Eski Vali Konağı)). The former city governors mansion.
- 50 Arsenal (Cephanelik). In the south of the Tabakhane valley lies the old armory. It is restored and now houses a restaurant.
- 51 Nemlioglu Mansion (Nemlioglu Konak, Nemlioğlu Konağı) (Central).
- 52 Ortahisar education directorate (Ortahisar ilçe milli eğitim müdürlüğü). Monumental building on Kahramanmaraş street.
- Former Alaca Turkish Bath (Alaca Hamam), Kazancilar Sokak. A monument.
- 1 Meydan. encircled 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.
- 2 Zagnos bridge & valley park. A park along the western side of the ancient walled city. With views on many historic mansions. Within the park one can also find a small open-air theater, a Byzantine aqueduct, and the "Trabzon Aquarium".
- 3 Boztepe tea garden. Southeast 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.
- 4 Fatih Park. A public tea garden just southeast of Meydan near the Iranian consulate. Come here to relax or play a game of backgammon.
- 5 Atapark. To 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.
- 6 Kuzgun / Tabakhane valley park. The new park along the eastern side of the city. Under construction.
South of Trabzon
- 1 Sümela Monastery (Turkish: Sümela Manastırı; Greek: Panagia Soumela, Virgin Mary of Soumela), Altındere Vadisi, Maçka, ☏ , email@example.com. 125 TL.
A spectacular rock-hewn monastery perched dramatically on the narrow ledge of a steep cliff in the forests south of Trabzon. It was built in the fourth century, just before the Roman Empire split into east and west, by two Athenian priests, Barnabas and Sophronius, who, according to legend, found a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave. The monastery's location in this geopolitically tumultuous corner of the globe naturally saw times of trouble and fell into ruin numerous times throughout its history, with its most thriving times falling under Byzantine and Ottoman rule.
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. Visitors can 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 Atatürk 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 2 Santa (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.
- 3 Vazelon Monastery, Maçka district, (40 km south of Trabzon). 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.
- 4 Kuştul Monastery (Turkish: Kuştul Manastırı, Greek: Ιερά Μονή του Αγίου Γεωργίου Περιστερεώτα) (near Şimşirli village, 30 km southeast of Trabzon). The 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.
- 5 Günes Sanat Galerisi (Art gallery), village Zigana (also called Kalkanli) (about 1 hour by bus from Trabzon southward over the mountains towards Torul and Gümüshane). 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
- 6 Memorial House Museum of Akçaabat (Akçaabat Ortamahalle Evleri Müzesi). Akçaabat (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 has been restored (Saint Joseph church).
- 7 Çal Caves (Çal Mağarası), Çal, Düzköy (30 km southwest of Akçaabat. Follow provincial road 61-76 until Çiğdemli.). Th-Sa 08:00-17:00. A large set of caves with waterfalls.
- 8 Akçakale Fortress (Akçakale kalesi). Only worth it if you plan on visiting the beach nearby.
East of Trabzon
- 9 Sürmene (Greek: Σούρμενα, Sourmena; Ottoman Turkish: ﺳﻮرﻣﻨﻪ)) (E 40 km). 5 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').
- 10 Uzungöl lake and town (Saraho) (99 km from Trabzon, 19 km from Caykara). 09:00-18:00. A 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. The closest summer settlements are on the yaylas 11 Karester and 12 Lustra, 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 some ideas for multi-day hikes near Uzungöl - or Çaykara district in general - see 'Trekking & Bikepacking' of the section 'Do/Outdoors'.
- 13 Uzungöl Dursun Ali İnan Museum, Fatih road, Uzungöl, Çaykara (a few hundred meters east of lake Uzungöl, on the south side of the Demirkapi (Haldizen) stream), firstname.lastname@example.org. A unique eclectic museum in Turkey showcasing the art, history, culture and nature of the region surrounding lake Uzungöl in Çaykara district. On display are collections of ancient amphora, antique home appliances, tools, musical instruments, cow bells, gravestones belonging to people of different faiths, and many other objects collected by mr Dursun. The museum also houses a large collection of massive wrought tree trunks and dozens of wooden sculptures of animals and humans. Even the different types of rocks and stones which can be found in the area may be viewed as pieces of art. Unlike other museums in Trabzon the Dursun Ali İnan Museum is bilingual in Turkish and English.
- Cevdet Sunay Memorial House, Çaykara-Sultan Murat Rd (21 km away in Ataköy). Cevdet 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).
In the rural districts of Trabzon one can find many historical 18th and 19th century churches, mosques and mansions.
- 14 Yakupoglu Memis Aga Mansion (Yakupoğlu Memiş Ağa Konağı) (Sürmene quarter).
- 15 Ahmet Aga Mansion (Yakupoğlu Ahmet Ağa Konağı) (Sürmene quarter).
- 99 Window Hashim Aga Mansion (99 Pencereli Haşim Ağa Konağı) ('Sürmene' quarter).
- Mustafa Topal Mansion (Sarımollaoğlu Topal Mustafa Konaği) ('Araklı' quarter).
- Cakiroglu Ismail Aga Mansion (Çakıroğlu İsmail Ağa Konağı) ('Of' quarter).
- Cakiroglu Hasan Aga Mansion (Çakıroğlu Hasan Ağa Konağı) ('Of' quarter).
- Watch football at 1 Trabzonspor, Şenol Güneş Stadium (take bus to Akyazı). They play soccer in the 'Süper Lig' , the game's top tier in the country. They're the most successful team outside Istanbul and often qualify for European tournaments. The club has a huge following especially in Trabzon and adjacent provinces, but also in Istanbul, Azerbaijan, and among the diaspora of Turks and Pontic Greeks around the world - who trace their ancestry to the region. Of all the Turkish teams, Trabzonspor easily draws the largest away crowds. Since 2016 they've played at Şenol Güneş Stadium, capacity 40,782, sponsored as "Medical Park Stadium". It's named for Şenol Güneş (b 1952), former goalkeeper and manager of Trabzon and the Turkish national team. The stadium is way out in the western suburb of Akyazı. You best go there by bus or dolmus (minibus). If you go to the Trabzonspor club restaurant before a game, you might be invited by locals to join them. Trabzonspor also have a women's football team (who play at Mehmet Ali Yılmaz Stadium).
- Go climbing or bouldering at 2 Yomra Climbing Wall (Yomra Tırmanış Duvarı), Hükümet Caddesi, Cimnastik Spor Kompleksi Tırmanma Duvarı, Yomra. (On the eastern side of Yomra town.), ☏ . At this sports complex in Yomra town (an eastern suburb of the city), there is climbing and bouldering facility. If you prefer climbing in nature, the Şahınkaya rockface in Trabzon's western Düzköy district is a good destination.
Hamams, beaches and swimming pools
Trabzon 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.
- 3 Central Hamam. Try 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.
- 4 Sekiz Direkli Hamam. Another historic hamam, to the west of the bazaar quarter.
- 5 Kaşüstü Municipal Family Beach (Kaşüstü Belediye Aile Plajı). The nearest public beach, some 10 km east of the city center.
- 6 Akçakale Beach (Akçakale Plajı) (W 24 km).
- 7 Kalecik Beach (Kalecik Plajı) (E 25 km).
- 8 Aquapark. Outdoor swimming pool with large slides between Akçakale and Akçaabat.
- 9 Mehmet Akif Ersoy Indoor Swimming Pool. Olympic-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 15, Sümela Monastery) Every year since 2010 the Greek Orthodox patriarch has led 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 (Calendar Night, 13–14 January) In some villages in Maçka, Tonya, Sürmene and Çaykara districts, 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, or guise themselves as the 'village doctor', a herder and his sheep, the demons Karakoncoloz or Momoyer, or (less frequently) as the blackfaced 'Arab traveller' Haji Firuz/Arápis. It is similar to trick-or-treating festivities in other European countries, such as Halloween or Sint-Maarten. Youths go house to house, singing songs and collecting sweets or ingredients for a shared meal around a campfire. In the recent past, Trabzon welcomed Pontic Greek cultural organizations to participate in the festivities, but since 2019 the national Turkish government has denied visa applications to these groups.
- A historically important festival in Trabzon was Epiphany on January 6. 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.
- 10 Cinemaximum. The movie theater at the Forum shopping mall. Mainly shows blockbusters with Turkish subtitles.
- 11 Royal Sinema. The main cinema near central Meydan square. Also offers blockbusters with Turkish subtitles. Next door to Lara cinema, which mainly shows dubbed movies.
- 12 Avşar Sinema. This 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.
- 13 Trabzon state theater (Trabzon Devlet Tiyatrosu). Trabzon 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.
- 14 Hamamizade İhsanbey Cultural Center (Hamamizade İhsanbey Kültür Merkez). A culture center with (amongst other things) a theater hall. It is one of a few interesting works of modern architecture in the city.
Trabzon is well known in Turkey as a destination for nature tourism and outdoor sports activities. The mountainous districts in Trabzon and neighboring Giresun and Rize provinces offer plenty options, but most areas are hardly developed for (international) tourism. However, this is also what makes the region attractive to adventurous travelers and Turkish families fleeing the hordes of tourists in Istanbul or the west coast. The beauty of Trabzon really lies in its alpine nature and remote, independent village life; Waking up in a traditional timber shed by the sound of cowbells and the scent of morning dew drawing the endless flower fields into your bed. Having fresh milk, corn bread, eggs and cooked green vegetables and spring water straight from the tap. To have this experience, you have to leave Trabzon, leave Uzungöl, and move higher up the mountain slopes, to the villages with their typical architecture and beautifully ornamented timber mosques, or even higher, where there are 'open air mosques', similar to the very first mosques in the world. Even though the people here are devout, they are not conservative in the traditional sense. It is normal for men and woman to mingle, make jokes, etc. Sufism has had a strong influence on these remote districts, and many people still grow up speaking minority languages like Romeyka Greek, Laz or Hemsin Armenian. As the region has grown in popularity amongst foreign tourists during the past two decades, the amount of trash left behind in nature has likewise increased. If you are planning to spend time in the mountains, you could consider taking extra waste bags with you.
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 biking
The 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):
- 16 Sisdağı Yaylası
- 17 Kadıralak Yaylası
- 18 Haçka Yaylası
- 19 Kayabaşı Yaylası
- 20 Hidirnebi Yaylası
- 21 Hamsiköy Yaylası
- 22 Çakırgöl Yaylası
- 23 Harmantepe Yaylası
- 24 Sultan Murat Yaylası
Trekking & bikepacking
The 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 25 Haldizen, and reach to just over 3 km. This area is also known as Yedigöller, referring 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 26 Anzer yayla and 27 Ovit 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.
Fırtına valley in upper Hemsin district of Rize province is ideal for rafting in Fırtına river, with its many centuries old arch bridges.
Although 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. There were plans for a ski-resort with pistes and lifts around lake Uzungöl, but as of 2020 they have not materialized.
As an important trade node, Trabzon also developed its own refined export produce. The area is rich in mineral deposits and it is thought that even in its early years as a Greek colony, part of its exports to the Agean were valuable metals. The ultra-fine handwoven gold and silver bracelets of Trabzon are a popular wedding gift throughout the country. Other local trades that still survive in the market quarter are copper-smiths and leather-workers. An exceptional souvenir would be a Kemençe (Pontian Lyra), the national instrument of Trabzon. A half-decent playable Kemençe violin will cost at least 1300 TL (Feb. 2022). There are also clock and keyring (chain) versions.
For those heading to Iran or the Caucasus by bike, Trabzon is a good stop for maintenance, or to find supplies at one of the bike shops or outdoor supply stores. It will likely be many hundreds of kilometers before you have the opportunity to repair or restock. Alternatively, you might also find supplies at one of the many hunting or fishing shops of Trabzon.
- 1 Market Quarter (Pazar). 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.
- 2 Uzun Sokak. Trabzon's main pedestrian shopping street. This street is lined with many monumental buildings, most in the local Neoclassical style.
- 3 Forum shopping mall (near Atatürk Airport). A modern shopping mall offering a similar experience to large shopping malls around the globe.
- 4 Cevahir Outlet shopping mall (near Novotel, in Yomra town).
- 5 Varlıbaş AVM, Gülbahar Hatun Mahallesi Atapark Karşısı Merkez, ☏ . 10:00-22:00. A shopping mall just west of the walled old town (to the north of Atapark).
- 6 Russian Bazaar (Rus Pazarı). The '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.
Typical 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.
There are a few restaurants at the northern side of Meydan square on the street "İskele Cd.". Most menus revolve around meat or fish dishes. Fast-food stores and kebab shops can be found at the western end of the square.
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.
Around the Meydan square
- 1 Onur Midye & Balık & Kokoreç, Fatih, 2. Devlet Sahil Yolu Cd.. A seafood restaurant
- 2 Sebnem Cafe, Kemerkaya, Uzun Sok. Çinili Çarşı D:38.
In Kalkinma near the Forum shopping mall
- 3 Park Pide, Kalkınma Mahallesi 120 Nolu Sokak 6/B Ortahisar. A Sfiha restaurant
- 4 Cemilusta, İskenderpaşa, Belediye Caddesi., Atatürk Alanı No:6. Popular restaurant at the Meydan square.
- 5 Ayasofya Müze Kahvalti Cafe. For 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.
- 6 Kalender Lokanta ve Kafe (Kalender). Cozy cafe/restaurant just south of Trabzon Museum.
- 7 Kulüp Bahçe Kafe (Kulüp Garden Cafe). Small stylish garden restaurant with diverse day menu and live music. At no.7 Özüdoğru, a dead-end side street of Uzun Sokak.
- 8 Tarihi Kalkanoğlu Pilavı. A historic restaurant established in 1856 serving traditional dishes around pilav.
- 9 Trabzon Architects Union Garden Cafe (Trabzon Mimarlar Odası Bahce Cafe). A relaxed green garden cafe with a small menu.
- 10 Bordo Mavi. Relaxed garden restaurant of Trabzonspor fanclub, next to the Trabzonspor Museum. One of the only restaurants in the city center that servers wine and spirits.
Akçaabat specialties and restaurants
Akçaabat, 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.
There are only a few restaurants that serve alcohol in the city center. Among them being Bordo Mavi and Trabzon Şehir Kulübü Restaurant in Nemlioğlu Cemal Sokak (sidestreet of Uzun Sokak). Other options are a bit further from the center, between Trabzon and Akcaabat, such as Tirvana, Lazeli or Marina. A lot of the more traditional restaurants offer non-alcoholic cocktails. Luckily, because Trabzon is a student city, there is still quite a broad choice between music venues compared to other Turkish cities.
Coffee & tea
For those longing for real (European-style) coffee, Keyif Coffee & Tea Store has a huge selection of Tea (listing them by area and even Tea Estate) and first rate Cappachino. They are hidden within the shopping complex Canbakkal İş Merkezi, a few blocks to the west of Atatürk Alani square. Kahve Durağı and Edward's Coffee offer many kinds of coffee and cakes. Cinema-themed sineK, next to Royal Cinema also offers western (and Turkish) coffee and tea. It is a kind of hip place where young Trabzonites come to play games after going to the movies. You might need to make reservations (like for most popular or trendy restaurants in the city). Time's Coffee Restaurant on Kahramanmaraş Cad. offers coffee and more with a rooftop view of the city. It is on the 7th floor of the Silk Road Business Center. A hot glass of locally grown black tea is served at the many tea gardens throughout the city, most of them located in public parks. The gardens with the best views can be found on Boztepe hill, just southeast of the city center. Other notable tea gardens are located in Fatih park just south of meydan square, and at Atapark just west of the historic walled city. As of Feb 2022, the Ganita tea garden, with its seaside location and view of the old Genoese fort, is closed due to renovation work.
- 1 Boztepe tea garden. Watch the sun set from the hill overlooking the city.
- 2 Ganita tea garden. The tea garden right next to the old Genoese fortress Leonkastron. As of writing (Feb. 2022) this area is undergoing major renovations, and is closed to the public.
- 3 Vokal Sanat Kitap ve Kafe. Book store annex cafe.
- 4 ByKuş bar, Nr 24 on the 7th floor of 'Gümüş Batu İş Merkezi' office building, on Dervişoğlu Çıkmazı. (a few blocks east of Meydan square). Nightclub focusing on electronic music
- 5 TREN Trabzon, Rize Caddesi Nr 109 (in the eastern part of town, along the coastal road). Music bar with DJs and performances. Check their instagram account to see what kind of night they have planned.
- 6 BARikat rock bar, Ahmet Selim Teymur Sokak Nr. 1 (one block west of Meydan square). Rooftop rock bar.
- 7 Sahne bar. Live music bar.
- 8 Şişman Efes Pub. Centrally located, one part is men-only, the other is mixed.
- 9 Altmış Bir'a (61'a). Football pub of Trabzonspor fans.
- 10 Retto. Nightclub. You need to make reservations at 0543 647 0011
- 11 Biravoo Pub. No frills interior, but unlike most bars in Trabzon it has a kitchen.
The cheapest hotels are down from Atatürk Square towards the port, but they usually function as unofficial brothels. By European standards the area is safe, and the prostitutes quite discreet. Between those hotels, Hotel Erzurum is acceptable and frequented by backpackers. Some of the more upmarket hotels in Trabzon are DoubleTree, Zorlu Grand Otel and Novotel. Zorlu Grand Otel is in central Trabzon, at Maraş Street. Novotel is some distance out of Trabzon, in Yomra (a town close to Trabzon) but it takes only ten minutes from city centre with a car or dolmuş (bus) to get there.
- 1 Otel Benli, İskenderpaşa Mah. Meydan Cami Sk. No:5, ☏ , . Basic hotel with clean rooms, shared bathrooms with warm water, WiFi throughout, and very helpful staff. 50 m from Atatürk Alanı (main square). Can organize transport to the Sümela monastery at the going rate of 25 TL per person round trip. 40 TL twin, shared bathroom.
- 2 Otel Efe (old name: Otel Can), ☏ .
- Lale Pension (on the beach, in a big botanical garden, about 20 km from the centre), ☏ . Run by a local family.
- 3 Şanlı Otel, Değirmendere, Sanayi Mah, Terminal Sk. No:9, 61100 Ortahisar/Trabzon (from Otogar it is just a couple of meters down Terminal Sk heading south. Look for the Signs.), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A cheap and convenient hotel very close to Trabzon Otogar. 190TRY.
- 4 Hotel Nur, Iskenderpasa Mah. Cami Sokak (next to the tourist office), ☏ , , fax: . They speak some English. Single for 50 TL.
- 5 Ural Otel, ☏ .
- 6 Elif Otel, ☏ .
- 7 DoubleTree by Hilton Trabzon, ☏ . Halfway between Trabzon and Akçaabat.
- 8 Ramada Plaza, ☏ . Luxury hotel just east of the airport. Has many facilities such as several restaurants and bars.
- 9 Novotel, ☏ .
- 10 Zorlu Grand Otel, ☏ . A large building on central Kahramanmaraş street
- 11 Inan Kardesler Hotel, Uzungöl Mah. Fatih Cad. No:25/A, ☏ , email@example.com.
Trabzon has a long educational history; after the Pandidakterion of Constantinople it had one of the first universities in the world teaching in subjects such as astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and medicine. Trabzon has remained a place of higher learning. Karadeniz Technical University (KTU) is the oldest university in the Turkish Republic outside Istanbul and Ankara. It has nearly 50,000 students (about 20% of the urban population of Trabzon city). The university is growing in popularity amongst foreign students, but is not yet as popular as universities in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir or Eskişehir. The university participates in the Erasmus program for European students. Avrasya University is a new private university.
- 7 Karadeniz Technical University.
In general the quality of food and drinks in Trabzon is fine, but tap water in the city is heavily chlorinated. In the mountain villages tap water has been connected to local springs and is absolutely safe to drink. Fresh dairy produce are delicious but if you are unaccustomed to this, it could upset your stomach. Very few local dishes contain a large amount of oil (or are wrongly prepared that way), but butter and cheese are a staple. Most of the vegetables and fruit that you can buy at markets in the province are grown locally in an organic way, so they are perfectly safe to eat. If you see wild fruit next to the road while on a hiking or biking trip, it is placed there for travellers to enjoy. But be aware of the local poisonous 'mad honey' (deli bal), which is derived by bees from the flowers of poisonous Rhododendron species. This hallucinogenic honey is legally sold in Turkey and can be acquired from roadside stalls. Most beekeepers are, however, unlikely to sell it to tourists.
Trabzon is generally a safe city for visitors and has low crime rates. As the city is not touristic, you will not be bothered by pushers of restaurants or shop owners in the bazaar quarter. During the 1990s and early 2000s there was a problem with street prostitution around the harbor due to the collapse of the economies of the neighboring ex-Soviet states. This problem has mostly been tackled, and the city's nightlife is now also safe and comfortable for women. The mountainous hinterland of the city is also safe, but rather sparsely populated. It is not recommended to travel in these remote areas alone, but if well prepared it is possible to do a bicycle camping trip by yourself. If you plan on hiking in the forested mountains, be sure to read about how to deal with bear encounters.
- 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 (with registration via SMS / SIM card). The city has a high-speed internet connection.
- 8 Taksim police station (Taksim Polis Merkezi Amirliği). The police station just south of Meydan square
- 9 Imperial Hospital (İmperial Hastanesi). Hospital in the center of the city. PCR-Test available for 350TRY (March 2022)
- 10 Trabzon Research and Education Hospital (Trabzon Kanuni Eğitim Ve Araştırma Hastanesi). Hospital in the western part of the city.
- 11 Adnan Menderes University Research and Application Hospital. Hospital in the eastern part of the city.
- 12 Farabi Hospital (Farabi hastanesi). University Hospital at Karadeniz Technical University near the Airport.
- 13 Fatih State Hospital (Fatih Devlet Hastanesi). State hospital in the west of the city.
- 14 Consulate of Georgia, Pertevpasa sokak 10. EU 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.
- 15 Consulate of Iran (İran Konsolosluğu), Taksim Caddesi, Kızıltoprak Sokak 3 (just south of the central square), ☏ , fax: . Many travellers (especially Europeans) report of getting a visa easily and quickly (i.e. in a single day) here. As of 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 Russia, Refik Cesur Caddesi 6 (in an imposing building made of volcanic rock in the old Ortahisar district). Although 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. The deeply pious city has some touristic attractions, such as a historic neighborhood and a castle, but 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. The local people are known for the quality of their dairy produce, honey, and variety of pastries, which you may find at stores in the city, and at other major towns in the province.
- 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 don't reach as high as those in Trabzon province, but offer much of the same natural and cultural beauty - without foreign tourists.
- 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.
|Routes through Trabzon|
|Samsun ← Giresun ←||W E||→ Sürmene → Rize|
|Merges with (E) ←||N S||→ Torul → Erzurum|