Last bastion of Byzantium Trabzon

Last breastwork (bastion) of Byzantium Trabzon

 Pity poor Trabzon. Until afresh this Black Sea boondocks in the northeastern bend of Turkey was best accepted to foreigners as the abject for visiting the iconic Sümela Monastery. Afresh one adolescent man attempt a bounded priest and addition was arraigned for killing the Armenian announcer Hrant Dink and al of a sudden the media began behaving as if Trabzon were some God-forsaken hellhole of abandonment that should be beyond off everyone’s itineraries immediately.

 This was rather like foreigners getting brash not to appointment Gloucester in England because it was home to Fred and Rosemary West (serial killers) and Saajid Badat (would-be even bomber), and just as silly. Because, of course, Trabzon is no such abhorrent place, but rather a active anchorage boondocks with a alluring history area over the contempo bayram (holiday) the new Forum arcade centermost was ample with acquisitive locals who had appear to analysis out the latest annex of Marks & Spencer and added affluence brands.

First to the alluring history. Trabzon was originally acclimatized by birth of colonists from Miletus on the Aegean bank who had set up a new home in Sinop. They chose for their adjustment a collapsed section of acreage that jutted up amidst two ravines, and aback this resembled a tabletop they alleged it the “trapezus” (table in Greek), which acquired over time into Trebizond. The bank was anon adherent with athletic walls, ample sections of which still enclose the Ortahisar district. During the Byzantine aeon Trebizond was already accomplishing able-bodied abundant to avowal several abundant churches. However, the accustomed advance of its history was abruptly adapted in 1204 if the Fourth Crusade absent from the Holy Acreage to grab ?stanbul (then Constantinople). The Byzantine aristocratic ancestors was affected out of the city, and one branch, headed by Alexius Comnenus, fled to Trebizond to set up a breakaway “empire.” In 1261 the Crusaders were chased out of Constantinople again, but Trebizond connected to beacon its own advance until 1461, if Fatih Sultan Mehmet, beginning from acquisition Constantinople and still not yet 30 years old, roared in to grab this endure bastion of Byzantium for the Ottomans. Aback afresh Trabzon’s history has broadly mirrored that of the blow of Turkey.

Despite this rather alien back-story, the Trabzon that confronts a lot of visitors today doesn’t attending abnormally old at all. Almost all the hotels are amassed about corybantic Atatürk Alan? (the “Meydan”), a accumulation of plane-tree-shaded tea area that sit uneasily amidst the barrage of some of Turkey’s a lot of assertive traffic. Trabzon was one of the endure bastions of the ancient taxi-dolmu?. These may belatedly accept accustomed way to white vans that backpack nine instead of four passengers, but there are still far too abounding of them, and their drivers are so advancing that it’s harder to get abundant of a feel for the meydan as a aboveboard amidst by rather adorable 19th-century buildings. To get any faculty of history (or any peace, for that matter) you charge to arch west appear the Ortahisar adjacency where, with a bit of imagination, it’s still accessible to dream yourself aback to the Trebizond of the Byzantines.

To get to Ortahisar you can airing down pedestrianized Uzun Sokak, which is just as accommodation with shoppers as ?stiklal Caddesi in ?stanbul. On the way you canyon the museum, which is housed in an aboriginal 20th-century abode that, while advised by an Italian, looks rather like a French alcazar accidentally transferred to Turkey. This affected architecture was created for a Greek broker and is able-bodied account a appointment to see the array of décor advantaged by the super-rich of a aeon ago. The absolute capacity are adequately run-of-the-mill, with the barring of some accomplished woodwork on affectation admiral and a behemothic but abnormally bedfast bronze of Hermes in the basement.

At the end of Uzun Sokak is the Tabakhane Ravine, abounding with appealing baby allotments. Already beyond the bridge, you ability the “trapezus” and the affection of the breakaway Byzantine Empire, its finest cairn the Fatih Camii, which was already the golden-domed abbey of Panagia Khrysokefalos. If you yield Kale Sokak, which active civil from the mosque, you will appear eventually to the slight charcoal of the old Comnenian palace, so abhorred now that gecekondus (slum housing) are congenital appropriate up adjoin the walls.

On the far ancillary of the “trapezus” is the Za?nos Ravine, area the authorities are currently affairs down added gecekondus and replacing them with a landscaped esplanade as allotment of an burghal about-face project. Here, too, is the accomplished aboriginal Ottoman Gülbahar Hatun Camii. Amidst 1490 and 1512 Sultan Selim I served as governor of Trabzon, and he had this abbey and tomb congenital for his mother, herself already a Comnenian princess. His son, Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, was built-in in Trabzon, and statues of both sultans beautify the adorable esplanade abaft the Fatih Camii.

Of advance the a lot of arresting antique of the Comnenian Empire is the abbey of Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya) that lies some way to the west of the “trapezus.” Now a museum, this admirable architecture still retains abounding of its august 13th aeon frescoes, a artefact of the alleged Golden Age of Trebizond. Attending carefully at the alfresco bank of the alcove and you should be able to accomplish out tiny assets of sailing ships categorical into the walls by apathetic mariners, while the area of the abbey accommodate a accomplished accumulating of Ottoman tombstones. A alone alarm belfry dating from the 15th aeon overlooks a baby tea garden adorned with a serander, a blazon of barn aloft up on stilts to accumulate rodents at bay that was accepted all about the Black Sea; locals army actuality to constrict into affable brunches that absorb bowls of muhlama, a Black Sea-style cheese fondu.

Far beneath visited than Haghia Sophia is Kaymakl? Monastery, which lurks in the area of somebody’s acreage way to the south of Boztepe, a accepted barbecue atom alms a panorama over the accomplished town. Kaymakl? is believed to date aback to the 15th century, but what makes it so arresting is the aeon of 17th aeon frescoes on the walls of a baby abbey which now serves as a accomplished barn.

Finally, no cruise to Trabzon would be complete after a appointment to the admirable Atatürk Kö?kü, addition aboriginal 20th aeon abode congenital for a banker, this blazon in whitewashed, board Crimean style. Afterwards, accomplish abiding to aberrate annular the awash exchange streets aberration off Kundurac?lar Caddesi, area branches of LC Waikiki, Beko and the ?ekerbank are now housed in anxiously adequate old buildings, already afresh alveolate ?stiklal Caddesi. Here, too, you’ll acquisition the adequate 14th aeon Genoese bedesten (covered market) and, if you’re lucky, the atmospheric Sekiz Direkli Hamam? (Eight-Pillared Hamam), accessible to women on Thursdays.

What to yield home as a souvenir? Well, Trabzon is acclaimed for its hasir bilezik, admirable torque-like bracelets that appear in matt or able silver, and for its kazaziye, argent necklaces that are finer knitted. You’ll see accomplished examples of both on auction in the Gümü? Saray? adornment boutique just in foreground of Haghia Sophia.


Many of Trabzon’s hotels are finer brothels.

Those listed beneath are respectable.

Grand Zorlu Hotel. Tel.: (462) 326 8400

Otel Horon. Tel.: (462) 326 6455

Usta Esplanade Hotel. Tel.: (462) 326 5700


There are circadian flights from ?stanbul and Ankara. Sit on the right-hand ancillary of the even to see the “trapezus” from the air as you appear into acreage appropriate beside the Black Sea.

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Written by kemalaltundag in: Turkey News |

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