Amasya, which was Amaseia in antiquity, is the capital of the district of Amasya Province in northern Turkey. Amasya is situated in the mountains above the Black Sea coast in a narrow valley along the banks of the Yeşilırmak River. Although not far from the Black Sea, this town is high above the coast and possesses an inland climate. Amasya features a Continental Mediterranean climate with hot summers and cold, rainy winters that are well-suited for growing apples - and the province of Amasya is famous for its apples. Amasya, the antique Amaseia mentioned in documents from the era of Alexander the Great and the birth place of the geographer and historian Strabo. In Ottoman times Amasya was well known for its madrassas, especially as a center for the Khalwati Sufi Order.
Its location in a steep valley makes the city a perfect mountain stronghold and easy to defend. Amasya has had a long and prominent history. Archaeological research shows that Amasya was likely first settled in 5500 BC by the Hittites and subsequently by Phrygians, Cimmerians, Lydians, Persians, Armenians. Around 183 BC the city was settled by Hellenistic people, eventually becoming the capital of the Kings of Pontus from 333 BC to 26 BC. Today there are prominent ruins, including the royal tombs of Pontus, in the rocks above the riverbank in the center of the city. Ancient Amaseia was captured by the Roman Lucullus in 70 BC of Armenia and was quickly made a free city and the administrative center of the new province of Bithynia and Pontus by Pompey. By this time Amaseia was a thriving city, the home of intellectuals, writers and poets, and one of these, the historian Strabo, left a full description of Amaseia as it was between 60 BC and 19 AD. During 2 to 3 BC, it was incorporated into the Roman province of Galatia, in the district of Pontus Galaticus. Around the year 112, the emperor Trajan designated it a part of the province of Cappadocia. Later in the 2nd century it gained the titles metropolis and first city. After the division of the Roman Empire by Emperor Diocletian the city became part of the Byzantine Empire with a predominantly Greek-speaking population.
In 1075 following 700 years of Byzantine rule Amasya was conquered by the Turkmen Danishmend emirs. It became their capital until it was annexed by the Seljuk ruler Kiliç Arslan II. Under the Seljuks and the Ilkhan the city became a center of Islamic culture. Many of the schools, mosques, tombs and other architecture of this period still remain. After being incorporated into the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Bayezid I, Amasya grew in importance as a center of learning with the children of the Ottoman rulers being sent here for their education. As part of their preparation for future rule they were given the position and responsibility of governor of Amasya. Future sultans from Beyazid I in the late 14th century through to Murat III in the 16th were schooled here and held the position of governor through their youth. The population of Amasya at that time was very different from that of most other cities in the Ottoman Empire. Due to the fact that it was part of their the training for the future, these sultans had to learn about every nation of the Empire. Every millet of the Empire was represented in Amasya in a particular village - like a Pontic village, an Armenian village, a Bosnian village, a Tatar village, a Turkish village, an Arab village, a Kurdish village and others.
In 1919 Amasya was the location of the final stages of planning meetings held by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk for the building of a Turkish army to establish the Turkish Republic following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. It was here that Mustafa Kemal made the announcement of the Turkish War of Independence in the Amasya Circular. In 1923, the Greeks of Amasya were exchanged for Turks from Greece during the population exchange at the founding of the Turkish Republic. Today the province of Amasya is known for producing high-quality apples along with other crops including tobacco and poppy seeds. Other economic activities in the region include mining, textiles and cement. Amasya is not a terribly wealthy city, but it is an attractive, well-preserved town that attracts a growing number of tourists. There is some nightlife consisting of mainly bars and cafes for students, and traditional restaurants. The cuisine includes a local specialty which is toyga çorbası - a soup containing yoghurt that can be eaten either hot or cold. Other local delights include special pastries with poppy seeds eaten with a cup of tea by the riverbank. The railway line from Sivas to Samsun runs through Amasya, and there is an excellent example of architecture from the Ottoman period exhibited in the Amasya railway station.
On the rock of Harşena above the town is the terraced site of the Royal Palace and Tombs of the Kings of Pontus are an impressive sight from the town, especially at night when they are illuminated. Harsene Kalesi – A fortification which was mostly rebuilt during medieval times also lies in ruins on a rocky outcrop above the town. And in the district of Nerkis lies some remains of another castle - Enderun Kalesi. The town itself has many historical and architecturally interesting buildings, including the Ferhat Aqueduct, the 13th century Seljuk Burmali Mosque, the 14th century Ilkhan Bimarhane Mental Hospital, the tomb of the 15th century scholar Pir Ilyas and the 15th century Mosque of Yildirim Beyazit. Amasya is vulnerable to earthquakes which have damaged many monuments, but there are a number of well-preserved traditional Ottoman Turkish mansions and are excellent examples of Ottoman architecture. The 19th century Hazeranlar Konağı has been carefully restored and includes a small art gallery and ethnographical museum as wellas other wooden houses that are being restored into hotels and guest houses. The Archaeological Museum of Amasya has a large and interesting collection of artifacts from many eras of antiquity, including the mummies of the Ilkhanli rulers of Amasya. Lake Borabay is situated 65 kilometers northeast of Amasya in the district of Taşova. It is a crater lake with an quite impressive view and clean fresh air. It is a perfect location for trout fishing and a day of picnicking. Other excursion sites from Amasya include Yedikir Reservoir and Omarca National Park.
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