Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern Turkey and the capital of the Province of Trabzon. Trabzon being situated on the historical Silk Road became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries. During the Ottoman period, Trabzon, because of its port, became a central point of trade to Iran and the Caucasus. Venetian and Genoese merchants also came to Trebizond during the medieval period to sell silk, linen and woolen fabrics. The Republic of Genoa had an important merchant colony within the city that was similar to Galata near Constantinople across the Golden Horn in present-day 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. The city was founded as Trapezous by Miletan traders in 756 BC. It was one of a number of Milesian trading colonies along the shores of the Black Sea. Like most Greek colonies of its time, the city was a small enclave of Greek life where early banking or money-changing activity is suggested to have occurred, This surmised according to a silver drachma coin from Trapezus on display in the British Museum in 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. 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 which was also in the interest of Trebizond. The city was added to the kingdom of Pontus by Mithridates VI Eupator and it became home port for the Pontic fleet. 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, and Hadrian commissioned improvements to give the city a more structured harbor. After the Fourth Crusade in 1204, a Byzantine successor state was founded there with support of Queen Tamar of Georgia, the Empire of Trebizond, which ruled part of the Black Sea coast from Trebizond until 1461, when its ruler, David, surrendered to Mehmed II the ruler of the Ottoman Empire. Following this takeover, Mehmed II sent many Turkish settlers into the area, but the old ethnic Laz, Armenian, and Greek communities remained. During the late Ottoman period, the city had a great Christian influence in terms of culture, and a wealthy merchant class who created several Western consulates.
During the Ottoman era 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 in 1916. The Russian army caused massive destruction in Trabzon and the Russians banned Muslim mosques and forced the Turks, who were the main ethnic group of the city, to leave Trabzon. The Russian Army retreated from the city and the rest of eastern and northeastern Anatolia with the Russian Revolution of 1917. Following the Turkish War of Independence and the annulment of the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 - which was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, Trabzon again became a part of Turkey. 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 declined or disappeared altogether.
Trabzon Province has a total area of 4685 km² and is bordered by the provinces of Rize, Giresun and Gümüşhane. 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" (English: 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, using Trabzon as an important seaport for trading goods between Europe and the Middle East. As a result of the general development of the country, Trabzon has developed its own economic and commercial life. The coastal highway and a new harbour have increased commercial relations with Central Anatolia, which in turn, has led to some growth. However, progress has been slow in comparison with the western and the southwestern parts of Turkey. Trabzon is famous throughout Turkey for its anchovies called hamsi, which are the main meal in many restaurants in the city. Major exports from Trabzon are hazelnuts and tea. Trabzon has a typical Black Sea climate with high and evenly distributed amount of rainfall each year. Summers are warm and humid with the average maximum temperature being around 27°C or 81°F in August. Winters are cool and damp, and the lowest average minimum temperature is around 5°C or 41°F in January. Precipitation is heaviest in autumn and spring. Snowfall is quite common between the months of December and March.
An openess towards other cultures and religious views plays a significant role in the lifestyle of the people of Trabzon. Muslims and Christians have lived together in the past and continue to do so today, making the city a proud heir to a rich cultural heritage. 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, young and elderly alike in festivities such as local weddings and during harvest times. Being quite similar to Russian Cossack dance in terms of its uniqueness, the Trabzon folk dance is probably indigenous to this 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. Most people in Trabzon show a strong sense of loyalty to their family, friends, religion and country. It was Trabzon where Atatürk selected his presidential guards as well as from the city of Giresun because of their fierce fighting ability and their loyalty.
Residents of Trabzon still hold with rural traditions from the Black Sea village life. These include traditional gender roles, social conservatism, hospitality and a willingness to help strangers as well as 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. Many Black Sea jokes (Turkish: Karadeniz fıkraları) in Turkey are told about the natives of the Black Sea region. The character Temel, a universal buffoon character found in many cultures forms an important part of the Turkish oral tradition. Trabzon provides 20 percent of the total fish production in Turkey. The cuisine of the area includes regional dishes such as the Akçaabat köfte (spicy lamb meatball from the Akçaabat district), Karadeniz pidesi (canoe shaped pita bread, often filled with ground beef, cheese and eggs), sucuk (Turkish sausage), pastırma (pastrami), kuymak (a Turkish fondue made with cornmeal, fresh butter and cheese), Vakfıkebir ekmeği (large country-style bread), Vakfıkebir tereyağı (Vakfıkebir butter), tava mısır ekmeği (deep-dish corn bread) and kara lahana çorbası (bean and cabbage soup). Trabzon is also famous for its hazelnuts and cherries. The Black Sea region of Turkey is the world's largest producer of cherry and hazelnut as well as a large producer of tea - all of which play an important role in the local cuisine.
Trabzon has many tourist attractions dating back to the times of the ancient empires that once existed in the region. Visitors can find a group of shops, stalls and restaurants surrounding the Meydan - a square in the center of the city which includes a tea garden. The Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Ayasofya Müzesi) is an exquisite Byzantine church and which is probably the most important tourist attraction in Trabzon. The Trabzon Castle ruins are visible in the town but cannot be visited as they fall inside a military zone with the outside wall of the castle now serving as the back wall of one of the military buildings. The Atatürk Köşkü is villa built in 1890 for a local Greek merchant. In 1924 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stayed in the villa during his visit to Trabzon and stayed there again in 1937. It houses period rooms and acts as a shrine to the memory of the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. Boztepe Park is a small park and tea garden on the hills above Trabzon that has a panoramic view of nearly the entire city. As a visitor a stroll on Uzun Sokak, one of the most crowded streets of Trabzon, and Kostaki Mansion is located to the north of Zeytinlik close to Uzun Sokak. Trabzon Museum is located in the town center and offers interesting exhibits on the history of the region, including an impressive collection of Byzantine-era artifacts. Trabzon's Bazaar District offers interesting shopping opportunities at its location on ancient narrow streets along Kunduracılar Street from the Meydan or town square.
Within the Province of Trabzon, the main attractions are the Sümela Monastery and Uzungöl. The Sümela Monastery on the Pontic Mountains near Trabzon is built on the side of a very steep mountain overlooking the green forests below it and is situated 50 kilometers south of the city. Uzungöl is famous for the natural beauty of the area and its amazing scenery. Other important sites of interest include: Kaymaklı Monastery, Kızlar Monastery, Kuştul Monastery, Vazelon Monastery, Cave Churches at Maşatlık, Ayvasıl, Sotha and Panagia Tzita churches. The Fatih Mosque - originally the Panagia Khrysokephalos Church, Yeni Cuma Mosque - originally the Hagios Eugenios Church, Nakip Mosque - originally the Hagios Andreas Church, Hüsnü Köktuğ Mosque - originally the Hagios Eleutherios Church, İskender Pasha Mosque, Semerciler Mosque, Çarşı Mosque, and the Gülbahar Hatun Mosque and Türbe - commissioned by Sultan Selim I.
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