Trabzon (see other names, Turkish pronunciation: [ˈtrabzon]) is a city on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Iran in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast. The Venetian and Genoese merchants paid visits to Trebizond during the medieval period and sold silk, linen and woolen fabric; the Republic of Genoa had an important merchant colony within the city called Leonkastron that played a role to Trebizond similar to the one Galata played to Constantinople (modern Istanbul). Trabzon formed the basis of several states in its long history and was the capital city of the Empire of Trebizond between 1204 and 1461. During the Ottoman period, Trabzon, because of the importance of its port, became a focal point of trade to Iran and the Caucasus. The population of the urban center is 1,254,350 (2011 census).
The Turkish name of the city is Trabzon. It is historically known as Trebizond, Trapezund, Tribisonde and Trapezus. In Latin, Trabzon was called Trapezus, which is the latinization of the Ancient Greek Τραπεζοῦς (Trapezous), the first name of the city. (τράπεζα meant "table" in Ancient Greek; note the table on the coin in the figure.) Both in Pontic Greek and Modern Greek, it is called Τραπεζούντα (Trapezounda). In Ottoman Turkish and Persian, it is written as طربزون. During Ottoman times, Tara Bozan was also used. Some western geographers used this name instead of the Latin Trebizond. In Laz it is known as ტამტრა (T'amt'ra) or T'rap'uzani., in Georgian it is ტრაპიზონი(T'rap'izoni) and in Armenian it is Տրապիզոն Trapizon. The 19th-century Armenian travelling priest Byjiskian called the city by other, native names, including Hurşidabat and Ozinis.
Iron Age and Classical Antiquity
The oldest area associated with the Kartvelians was northeastern Anatolia, including the Iron Age monarchy of the Diauehi (early-Georgians), later known as the culturally important region of T’ao-Klarjeti (part of Turkey since 1461), where they pre-dated the Hittites.
In classical antiquity the city was founded as Τραπεζοῦς (Trapezous) by Milesian traders (756 BC). It was one of a number (about ten) of Milesian emporia or trading colonies along the shores of the Black Sea. Others include Sinope, Abydos and Cyzicus (in the Dardanelles). Like most Greek colonies, the city was a small enclave of Greek life, and not an empire unto its own, in the later European sense of the word. Early banking (money-changing) activity is suggested occurring in the city according to a silver drachma coin from Trapezus in the British Museum, London.
Trebizond's trade partners included the Mossynoeci. When Xenophon and the Ten Thousand mercenaries were fighting their way out of Persia, the first Greek city they reached was Trebizond (Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.5.10). The city and the local Mossynoeci had become estranged from the Mossynoecian capital, to the point of civil war. Xenophon's force resolved this in the rebels' favor, and so in Trebizond's interest.
When the kingdom was annexed to the Roman province of Galatia in 64–65, the fleet passed to new commanders, becoming the Classis Pontica. Trebizond gained importance under Roman rule in the 1st century for its access to roads leading over the Zigana Pass to the Armenian frontier or the upper Euphrates valley. New roads were constructed from Persia and Mesopotamia under the rule of Vespasian. In the next century, the emperor Hadrian commissioned improvements to give the city a more structured harbor. A mithraeum now serves as a crypt for the church of Panagia Theoskepastos in nearby Kizlara, east of the citadel and south of the modern harbor.
Trebizond was greatly affected by two events over the following centuries: in the civil war between Septimius Severus and Pescennius Niger, the city suffered for its support of the latter, and in 258 the city was pillaged by the Goths, despite reportedly being defended by "10,000 above its usual garrison', and being defended by two bands of walls.
Byzantine period and the Empire of Trebizond
Although Trebizond was rebuilt after being pillaged by the Goths in 258, the city did not soon recover. Only in the reign of Diocletian appears an inscription alluding to the restoration of the city; Ammianus Marcellinus could only write of Trebizond that it was "not an obscure town." Christianity had reached Trebizond by the third century, for during the reign of Diocletian occurred the martyrdom of Eugenius and his associates Candidius, Valerian, and Aquila. By the time of Justinian, the city served as an important base in his Persian Wars, and Miller notes that a portrait of the general Belisarius "long adorned the church of St. Basil." An inscription above the eastern gate of the city, commemorated the reconstruction of the civic walls following an earthquake at Justinian's expense.
The city regained importance when it became the seat of the theme of Chaldia. Trebizond also benefited when the trade route regained importance in the 8th to 10th centuries; 10th-century Muslim authors note that Trebizond was frequented by Muslim merchants, as the main source transshipping Byzantine silks into eastern Muslim countries. The Italian maritime republics such as the Republic of Venice and in particular the Republic of Genoa were active in the Black Sea trade for centuries, using Trabzon as an important seaport for trading goods between Europe and Asia. Some of the Silk Road caravans carrying goods from Asia stopped at the port of Trebizond, where the European merchants purchased these goods and carried them to the port cities of Europe with ships. This trade provided a source of revenue to the state in the form of custom duties, or kommerkiaroi, levied on the goods sold in Trebizond.
Following the Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, Trebizond came under Seljuk rule. This rule proved transient when an expert soldier and local aristocrat, Theodore Gabras took control of the city from the Turkish invaders, and regarded Trebizond, in the words of Anna Comnena, "as a prize which had fallen to his own lot" and ruled it as his own kingdom. Supporting Comnena's assertion, Simon Bendall has identified a group of rare coins he believes were minted by Gabras and his successors. Although he was killed by the Turks in 1098, other members of his family continued his de facto independent rule into the next century.
The Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) and the Sack of Constantinople by the Latin Crusaders in April 1204 led to the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire. The Empire of Trebizond was formed in 1204 as one of the three Byzantine Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire. Located at the far northeastern corner of Anatolia, it was the longest surviving of the Byzantine successor states, until its conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1461. Geographically, the Empire of Trebizond consisted of little more than a narrow strip along the southern coast of the Black Sea, and not much further inland than the Pontic Mountains. Its demographic legacy endured for several centuries after the Ottoman conquest in 1461, as a substantial number of Greek Orthodox inhabitants, usually referred to as Pontic Greeks, continued to live in the area during Ottoman rule, up until 1923, when they were deported to Greece. Some Muslim Greeks are still in the area, and some may be Crypto Christian. Compared to most previously Greek cities in Turkey, a large amount of its Greek Byzantine architectural heritage survives as well.
On his return voyage from Asia in the late 13th century, Marco Polo ended his overland journey at the port of Trebizond, then the capital of the Empire of Trebizond, and sailed to his hometown Venice with a ship; passing by Constantinople (Istanbul) on the way, which was retaken by the Byzantines in 1261. A year earlier, in 1260, Niccolò and Maffeo Polo (the father and uncle of Marco Polo) were residing in Constantinople, then the capital of the Latin Empire. They foresaw a political change, liquidated their assets into jewels and moved away. Their decision proved wise, as Constantinople was recaptured in 1261 by Michael VIII Palaiologos, the ruler of the Empire of Nicaea, who promptly burned the Venetian quarter in the city and reestablished the Byzantine Empire. Captured Venetian citizens in Constantinople were blinded, while many of those who managed to escape perished aboard overloaded refugee ships fleeing to other Venetian colonies in the Aegean Sea. Constantinople remained the Byzantine capital until it was conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1453, who also conquered Trebizond eight years later, in 1461.
The last Emperor of Trebizond, David, surrendered the city to Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire in 1461. Following this takeover, Mehmed II sent many Turkish settlers into the area, but the old ethnic Greek, Laz and Armenian communities remained. According to the Ottoman tax books (tahrir defterleri), the total population of adult males in the city was 1,473 in the year 1523. Approximately 85% of them (1,252 adult males) were Christian, 13% of whom (197 adult males) were Armenian, and 15% of them (221 adult males) were Muslim. However, a large portion of the local Christians were Islamized and Turkified by the end of the 17th century, according to a research by Prof. Halil İnalcık on the tax books (tahrir defterleri) of the Ottoman Empire.
Trabzon was the capital of the Ottoman Eyalet of Trebizond (1461–1867) and later of the Ottoman Vilayet of Trebizond (1867–1923) in the northeastern part of Anatolia. During the reign of Sultan Bayezid II, his son Prince Selim (later Sultan Selim I) was the sancakbeyi of Trabzon, and Selim I's son Suleiman the Magnificent was born in Trabzon on November 6, 1494. The Ottoman government often appointed local Chepni and Laz beys as the regional beylerbeyi. It is also recorded that some Bosniak beys were also appointed by the Sublime Porte as the regional beylerbeyi in Trabzon. The Beylerbeylik of Trabzon (Trabzon Beylerbeyliği) had always sent troops for the Ottoman campaigns in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Trabzon had a wealthy merchant class during the late Ottoman period, and the local Christian minority still had a substantial influence in terms of culture. A number of European consulates were opened in the city due to its importance in regional trade and commerce.
In 1901 the harbour was equipped with cranes by Stothert and Pitt of Bath in England. The city was the site of one of the key battles between the Ottoman and Russian armies during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I which resulted in the capture of Trabzon by the Russian Caucasus Army under command of Grand Duke Nicholas and Nikolai Yudenich in April 1916. Russian general Shvartz's army caused a massive destruction in Trabzon. Russians banned Muslim mosques, and forced Turks, who were the largest ethnic group living in the city, to leave Trabzon. The Russian Army ultimately retreated from the city and the rest of eastern and northeastern Anatolia with the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Trabzon was a major Armenian extermination centre during the Armenian Genocide, as well as a location of subsequent trials (see Trabzon during the Armenian Genocide). Many of the victims were taken out to sea in boats that were then capsized. The Trabzon trials reported Armenians having been drowned in the Black Sea.
Following the Turkish War of Independence and the annulment of the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) which was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), Trabzon again became a part of Turkey. In the early 1920s there was a mass deportation of Greeks from Trabzon and the vicinity, to the relatively new Greek state,along with millions of other Turkish Greeks.
During World War II shipping activity was limited because the Black Sea had again become a war zone. Hence, the most important export products, tobacco and hazelnut, could not be sold and living standards degraded.
As a result of the general development of the country, Trabzon has developed its economic and commercial life. The coastal highway and a new harbour have increased commercial relations with central Anatolia, which has led to some growth. However, progress has been slow in comparison to the western and the southwestern parts of Turkey.
The city may still have a small community of Greek-speaking Muslims, most of whom are originally from the vicinities of Tonya and Of. However, the Pontic Greek language (known as Romeiaka or Ποντιακά, Pontiaka) is spoken mostly by the older generations.
Geography and climate
Trabzon Province has a total area of 4,685 square kilometres (1,809 sq mi) and is bordered by the provinces of Rize, Giresun and Gümüşhane. The total area is 22.4% plateau and 77.6% hills. The Pontic Mountains pass through the Trabzon Province.
Trabzon used to be an important reference point for navigators in the Black Sea during harsh weather conditions. The popular expression "perdere la Trebisonda" (losing Trebizond) is still commonly used in the Italian language to describe situations in which the sense of direction is lost. The Italian maritime republics such as Venice and in particular Genoa were active in the Black Sea trade for centuries.
Değirmendere (ancient Piksidis), Yanbolu, Fol, Karadere, Koha, Sürmene (ancient Manahos) ve súrmene (küçük dere), Solaklı, Baltacı and İyidere (ancient Kalopotamos.)
Uzungöl, Çakırgöl, Sera Gölü.
Trabzon has a climate typical of the Black Sea region with plentiful precipitation. Under the Köppen climate classification, it has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa) Summers are warm and humid, and the average maximum temperature is around 26.7 °C (80 °F) in August. Winters are cool and damp, and the lowest average minimum temperature is around 5 °C (41 °F) in January.
Precipitation is heaviest in autumn and winter, with a marked reduction in the summer months. Snowfall is quite common between the months of December and March, snowing for a week or two, and it can be heavy once it snows.
The water temperature, like in the rest of the Black Sea coast of Turkey, is always cool and fluctuates between 8 °C (46 °F) and 20 °C (68 °F) throughout the year.
As of 1920, the port at Trabzon, was considered "the most important of the Turkish Black Sea ports", by the British. It traded as far as Tabriz and Mosul. As of 1911, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey signed an agreement to develop a harbor at the port. When the Russians occupied Trabzon, a mole was built. They built a breakwater and were responsible for creating an extended pier, making loading and unloading easier. In 1920, Trabzon produced linen cloth, silver filagree, tanning and small amounts of cotton, silk and wool. Tobacco and hazelnuts were exported. The tobacco produced in Trabzon was called Trebizond-Platana. It was described as having "large leaves and a bright colour." Trabzon was known for producing poor quality cereals, most which were grown for local use.
Trabzon produced a white green bean, which was sold in Europe. It was, as of 1920, the only vegetable exported out of the province. Poultry farming was also popular in Trabzon. Sericulture was seen in the area before 1914. The area produced copper, silver, zinc, iron and manganese. Copper was kept for local use by coppersmiths. During the Balkan Wars production ceased due to poor exportation and fuel supplies.
The current ethnic background of the people of Trabzon is mostly Circassian and Turkish. The main language of these ethnic groups is Turkish. Locals self-identifying as Turks consists of a variety of different ethnic groups; mostly Chepni Turkmens and Laz people but also smaller groups of Muslim Greeks (Romeyka-speakers) and Armenians (Hemshin). Modern migration since the dissolution of the Soviet Union has brought a significant number of Russians, Ukrainians and people from the Caucasus (mostly Georgia) into the city. Russian language shops and facilities can be found in the town.
Pontic Greek has been spoken in the region since early antiquity. The local dialect developed along its own lines and is today partly intelligible to speakers of Standard Greek. It was spoken mainly by a Greek Orthodox multi-ethnic population up to the population exchange; nearly all speakers of this local variant of Pontic Greek are now Muslims. A very similar dialect is spoken by a community of about 400 speakers, descendants of Christians from the Of valley now living in Greece in the village of Nea Trapezounta (New Trebizond), today part of Katerini, Central Macedonia.
Laz people, who are aboriginal to this area, also live in Trabzon. Numerous villages inside and out of Trabzon of the Laz date back as early as the period of Queen Tamar's rule (Georgian: თამარი, also transliterated as T'amar or Thamar; c. 1160 – 18 January 1213) in the newly unified Kingdom of Georgia. During the Queen's rule, sizeable groups of immigrating Georgians moved to Trabzon where they continue to preserve their native tongue. There was an Armenian community in Trebizond as early as the 7th century.
During the 13th and 14th centuries, numerous Armenian families migrated here from Ani. According to Ronald C. Jennings, in the early 16th century, Armenians made up approximately 13 percent of the city's population. At present, Trabzon does not have an Armenian-speaking community.
The Chepni people, a tribe of Oghuz Turks who played an important role in the history of the eastern Black Sea area in the 13th and 14th centuries, live in the Şalpazarı (Ağasar valley) region of the Trabzon Province. Very little has been written on the Turkification of the area. There are no historical records of any considerable Turkish-speaking groups in the Trabzon area until the late 15th century, with the exception of the Chepnis. The original Greek (and in some regions Armenian) speakers imposed features from their mother language into the Turkish spoken in the region. Heath W. Lowry's work with Halil İnalcık on Ottoman tax books (Tahrir Defteri) provides detailed demographic statistics for the city of Trabzon and its surrounding areas during the Ottoman period.
It is possible that the majority of the population of Trabzon and Rize (and other ancient Greek colonies in the Pontus region) — except up to the time of the Chepni Turk immigration waves — consisted of indigenous Caucasian tribes (the Colchians and the Laz) who had been partly Hellenized religiously and linguistically. Michael Meeker stresses the cultural resemblances (e.g. in village structure, house types, and pastoral techniques) between the Eastern Black Sea coast and the areas in the Caucasus proper.
Trabzon has a number of tourist attractions, some of them dating back to the times of the ancient empires that once existed in the region. In the city itself, one can find a hub of shops, stalls and restaurants surrounding the Meydan, a square in the center of the city, which includes a tea garden.
Other sites of the city include: Fatih Mosque (originally the Panagia Khrysokephalos Church), Yeni Cuma Mosque (originally the Agios Eugenios Church), Nakip Mosque (originally the Agios Andreas Church), Hüsnü Köktuğ Mosque (originally the Agios Elevtherios Church), İskender Pasha Mosque, Semerciler Mosque, Çarşı Mosque, Gülbahar Hatun Mosque and Türbe (commissioned by Sultan Selim I), Kalepark (originally Leonkastron).
Within Trabzon Province, the main attractions are the Sümela Monastery (i. e. the Monastery of the Panagia Soumelá) and the Uzungöl lake. The monastery is built on the side of a very steep mountain overlooking the green forests below and is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of the city. Uzungöl is famous for the natural beauty of the area and the amazing scenery. Other important sites of interest in the broader region include:
Folk dancing is still very much in evidence in the Black Sea region. The "Horon" is a famous dance which is indigenous to the city and its surrounding area. It is performed by men, women, the young and elderly alike; in festivities, local weddings and harvest times. While similar to Russian Cossack dances in terms of vividness, the Trabzon folk dance is probably indigenous to the eastern Black Sea region, which has an impressive variety of folk music .
The people of Trabzon have a reputation for being religiously conservative and nationalist. Many Trabzonites generally show a strong sense of loyalty to their family, friends, religion and country. Atatürk selected his presidential guards from Trabzon and the neighbouring city of Giresun because of their fierce fighting ability and their loyalty.
Outside of the relatively urban space of Trabzon proper, and within parts of it as well, rural traditions from the Black Sea village life are still thriving. These include traditional gender roles, social conservatism, hospitality and a willingness to help strangers; and all aspects, both positive and negative, of an agrarian lifestyle, such as hard work, poverty, strong family ties, and a closeness to nature.
The people of the eastern Black Sea region are also known for their wit and sense of humour; in fact many jokes in Turkey are told about the natives of the Black Sea region Karadeniz fıkraları (Black Sea jokes). The character Temel, a universal buffon figure found in many cultures, forms an important part of the Turkish oral tradition.
Historically the city was a center of Greek culture and education and from 1683 to 1921, a teachers' college operated known as Phrontisterion of Trapezous, which provided a major impetus for the rapid expansion of Greek education throughout the region. The building of this institution (built in 1902) still remains the most impressive Pontic Greek monument in the city and today hosts the Turkish school Anadolu Lisesi.
Trabzon's regional cuisine is traditionally reliant on fish, especially hamsi (fresh European Anchovy similar to the British Sprat or American Smelt). Trabzon meets 20% of the total fish production in Turkey. Regional dishes include the Akçaabat köfte (spicy lamb meatball from the Akçaabat district), Karadeniz pidesi (canoe shaped pita bread, often filled with ground beef, cheese and eggs), kuymak (a Turkish fondue made with cornmeal, fresh butter and cheese), Vakfıkebir ekmeği (large country-style bread), Tonya tereyağı (Tonya butter), tava mısır ekmeği (deep-dish corn bread) and kara lahana çorbası (bean and cabbage soup). Taflan kavurması is a cherry laurel dish served with onions and olive oil. Trabzon is also famous for its hazelnuts. The Black Sea region of Turkey is the world's largest producer of cherry and hazelnut; and a large production area of tea; all of which play an important role in the local cuisine.
Football is the most popular sport in Trabzon, as Trabzonspor was until 2010 the only Turkish club in Anatolia to win the Turkish Super League (six times), as the "Big Three" of Istanbul (Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, and Beşiktaş) had previously dominated and continue to do so. Due to Trabzonspor's success, the decades-old term "Big Three" which defined the largest clubs of Turkey had to be modified into the "Big Four".
Trabzonspor is also one of the most successful Turkish clubs in the European Cups, managing to beat numerous prominent teams such as Barcelona, Inter, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Olympique Lyonnais. Renowned former players of Trabzonspor include Şenol Güneş, Lars Olsen and Shota Arveladze.
European Olympic Committees President Patrick Hickey told Olympic news source Around the Rings that the European Youth Olympic Festival in Trabzon would be the perfect platform for a 2020 Olympic bid from Istanbul. "If Istanbul is going to make a bid, certainly the Trabzon Games will be a great platform, if they show they can run a very good event at that level. It is then a great indicator of bigger things to come", he said.
Twin towns—Sister cities
Trabzon is twinned with:
Notes and references