Earth : Europe : Turkey : Black Sea Turkey : Eastern Karadeniz : Trabzon
A major trade centre since times immemorial, and visited by Marco Polo among many others, Trabzon is today one of the major cities of Turkey's northeastern coast.
In medieval times, city served as the capital of Empire of Trebizond, which was ruled by Komnenos family—which also provided several emperors to the Byzantine throne in Constantinople. The longest surviving one of rump Byzantine states, Trabzon was captured by Ottoman Turks in 1461, almost a decade after the Fall of Constantinople.
- 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.
- By bus from all major cities in Turkey. From Istanbul (65 TL, 18 hrs) they depart several times per day. There are also buses from Tbilisi, Georgia (about 12 hours) which serve as a useful point of entry to the country from Caucasus.
- Turkish Maritime Lines used to operate two weekly ferryboats between Istanbul and various Black Sea ports. However, as of 2007, this service has been cancelled.
- Aya Sofya Museum. A 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. There is a peaceful open-air tea garden on the grounds. 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.
- Uzungöl, a lake up in the mountains in the east of Trabzon near Caykara.
For general tourist information, the tourist office is located one block to the east of Atatürk Alani square, down Camii Sk., just beyond Hotel Nur. The clerk speaks English very well and provides you with a wealth of information about Trabzon and its surroundings. Before doing anything in Trabzon, go to the tourist office.
Sümela Monastery (Turkish: Sümela Manastırı; Panagia Soumela, "Virgin Mary of Soumela" in Greek) is 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 twentieth 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 themselves have been fairly heavily restored in recent decades, as the Turkish government has stepped in to protect the monastery and to turn it into a museum.
Admission is 8 TL. The simplest way to get to the monastery is by tour, and you can find a tour in town by just asking any other traveler there (no tourist visits Trabzon without seeing Sümela). 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. The rest of the way, approximately 17 km to the actual site of monastery, can be done by dolmuşes from downtown Maçka, 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 was recently 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 meters to Sümela itself, where there is a car-park in front of Hagia Barbara Chapel.
- Tours of Sumela are offered by Eyce Tours . A round trip to Sumela in the low season costs 15 TL, and does not include a guide or the 8 TL admission fee. In the high season, tours cost 12 TL and include an English speaking guide. Eyce also offers tours to other nearby areas. Find them near Atatürk Alani, at Taksim İşhanı sk. 11. Tel (462) 3267174.
- Günes Sanat Galerisi (art gallery), Zigana köy (Kalkanli (App. 1 hour with bus from Trabzon eastward 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 traveled around the world, and has settled in the small village Zigana (also called Kalkanli) near the magnificent Zigana mountains. Visit his homepage for pictures. (40.6078,39.3649)
- Trabzonspor why not watch 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 Hüseyin Avni Stadium. It's about a 20-30 minute walk west of the main square. If in doubt, ask a local "Trabzonspor Stadyumu" and they will point you in the correct direction.
There is a shopping mall near Novotel called Cevahir Outlet, in Yomra town which lies 5 minutes away from Trabzon. There is a shopping mall near Ataturk Airport called "Forum".
There are nice local meals really worth a try. Especially, pide and köfte are really famous with their taste in Turkey. Pide is kind of pizza which is made with a special bread and cheese. You can also try "kiymali" which is made with meat and served with butter.
You can find a cheep but good place near city center called "Cardak Pide Salonu"
Kuzen is also a good option: no standard kebabs but (for example) delicious wrap-like rolls filled with hot Merkez sausage... It's in Cevdet Akcay sokak next to the modernish shopping mall on the north side of Kahraman Marash Cad.
Another special taste of Trabzon is Akcaabat koftesi which is meatballs. Made with meat, garlic and bread it's very delicious with ayran(yogurt mixed with water) and piyaz (beans,lettuce). There are clean and nice places 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.
Another nice place is Harran Kebap , on Kahramanmaraş Caddesi, not far from the main square.
Trabzon has the best bread in the country called Vakfikebir ekmegi. Give it a try, you won't regret it.
Lahmacun ("Laa-mach-june") is a great thing to try, it's like a very thin pizza with mince meat on the top. They are cheap, healthy and taste very nice the only problem is a sophisticated oven is required to cook them so not all restaurants have them, but if they are possible they are well worth getting. You usually order an Ayran (pronounced "i-RUN") with it which is a salt youghurt drink that aids digestion.
All 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.
Try the popular pub Beer Time near the main square.
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 (3 TL). They are hidden within the shopping complex Canbakkal İş Merkezi, a few blocks to the west of Atatürk Alani square.
- Hotel Nur, Iskenderpasa Mah. Cami Sokak (Next to the tourist office.They speak some English.), ☎ +90.462.323.04.45-323 04 46 (fax: +90.462.323 04 47). singles for 50 YTL (fall 2010).
The cheapest hotels are down from Ataturk Square towards the port, but they usually function as unofficial brothels. By European standards the area is safe, however, and the prostitutes quite discreet. Between those hotels, Hotel Erzurum was acceptable and frequented by backpackers.
- Hotel Erzurum, İskenderpaşa Mh. Güzelhisar Cd. 19 (100 mt below the square (Atatürk Alanı), between Yuvan and Anil Hotels, and next to Nazar Hotel), ☎ +90 462 322-54-27. Nice quiet hotel. Rooms come with own bathroom and TV. Friendly staff. No safety problems for solo lady travelers. 25 TL (Sept 2010).
Some of the upmarket hotels in Trabzon are Zorlu Grand Otel and Novotel. Zorlu Grand Otel is in downtown 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.
- A direct bus to Doğubeyazıt leaves 10PM, arriving 10AM.
- Mid-size buses every hour from Trabzon otogar (bus station) towards Torul and Gümüşhane. Last bus in the evening: 8 PM.
- There are also long distance buses to other major Turkish destinations (e.g. Istanbul, Göreme, Sivas, Izmir etc) but it's a good idea to book these ahead of when you travel. There are many travel / ticket agent shops who can help you with this around Ataturk Alani (the main square in Trabzon).
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