Situated on Turkey’s northeastern Black Sea coastline, the city of Trabzon was once a major trading point along the Silk Road. It became a melting pot of religions, cultures and languages for many centuries, before the Ottoman Empire transformed it into the Black Sea’s busiest port, with its focus on trade with Iran, India and the Caucasus.
Trabzon was initially established as a Greek colony in the 7th century BC, prospering due to its location on the trade route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Over time it became a focal point for the Pontic kings, and in the 13th century the Commagene Dynasty established their capital here. It flourished into a sophisticated cultural centre, with both the Genoese and Venetians coming here to trade until it fell under Ottoman rule in 1461.
The city today blends old and new, with graceful medieval churches and Byzantine monasteries standing alongside a modern city centre, bustling with the comings and goings of daily life.
Its old walled city, known as Ortahisar, is situated between two small valleys, connected via ancient bridges, and overflowing with historical architecture. Its Fatih Mosque once served as the central church and is where the coronation of Greek Komnenos kings took place, while the nearby Hagia Sophia Museum is renowned for its Byzantine architecture. After serving 916 years as a church and 477 as a mosque, this magnificent building now reveals incredible mosaic artwork and architectural feats that were believed to have only been possible with supernatural powers.
After exploring Trabzon’s historical gems, head into the surrounding countryside where the small town of Akcaabat is world-renowned for its meatballs. Then visit the awe-inspiring rock-hewn Sumela Monastery, which was built during the Byzantine period. With a spectacular cliff-side setting, it is now renowned for its impressive frescoes and one of Trabzon’s most spectacular sights.
Nature lovers should take a shore excursion to the beautiful Uzongol, or “Long Lake”, to the south of Trabzon. This picturesque lakeside village is surrounded by rugged mountain slopes, and its Kunduracilar Caddesi avenue is renowned for jewelry shops selling the beautiful, woven-silver Trabzon bracelet. Entirely hand-crafted by women, these bracelets make a unique and elegant souvenir.
Join us for one of our fascinating Trabzon shore excursions to uncover the beauty of this historic city and its surrounding landscapes.