Dramatically carved into the rock overlooking the sea, the first impression of Trabzon is one of wonder. The 14th century city, overlooking the Black Sea, is famed for its golden towers and impressive mosaics, as well being a vital part of the legendary Silk Road. Such was its fame in its heyday that even Marco Polo was a fan.
The city is sometimes referred to as the City of Sultans, as it was here that the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent was born. The tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman ruled over at least 25 million people from 1520 to 1566. The city’s old town has kept its charm with Ottoman-era houses, pedestrian-only streets, and naturally, a lively bazaar.
For those who want to venture a little further outside the city’s walls, you will be richly rewarded. A short 30-minute drive will take you through beautiful scenery to some jewels of the region’s past. These include the St. Sophia Museum, the Gulbahar Hatun Mosque and the spectacular Sumela Monastery. Legend has it that two Athenian monks had a vision where the Virgin Mary asked them to build a monastery in a secluded valley. The result is Sumela, perched between sea and sky. The monastery is located in the Altindere National Park and its vibrant frescos both inside and out have been expertly preserved.
It is not only the architecture that has been conserved in Trabzon. Culinary delicacies are rich and varied and many traditional dishes, including the city’s prize export anchovies, are commonplace.