In the eastern Black sea region of Turkey, the city of Trabzon stands on the coastline. It is proud of its heritage and historical importance as a major trading port on the old silk road.
The region also captured the attention of many famous travel writers through history including Marco Polo and Evliya Celebi. They were not the only ones who were in awe of Trabzon because in 1461, the Ottoman ruler Fatih Sultan Mehmet stormed in and conquered the region for himself.
My stay in the city lasted three days. During this time, I explored the sites to see, did a lot of people watching and also listened as the “Days of the Russians” era was proudly explained to me.
Suitcase tourism in Trabzon, Turkey
At the turn of the last century, a war between the Ottoman empire and Russians resulted in the capture of the city. They had a short period of rule before the Russian revolution in 1917 forced them to withdraw.
However it was until the end of the century that the city was to see the golden days. Russia had relaxed the border crossing rules and Russians flocked into Turkey and particularly Trabzon to buy cheap goods and take them back over the border to sell. They were buying in bulk and people could not keep up with the demand for simple things like chocolate.
The locals called it “suitcase tourism” and enjoyed the wealth that came with it, until the Russian government realised what was happening and tightened regulations.
These days it is hard to spot any Russians. Most foreigners I saw were Islamic tourists and the women covered themselves from head to toe in black. Maybe this explained why I could not find anywhere in the city centre that served beer and I had also unknowingly booked myself into a no-alcohol hotel.
Photos of Trabzon City and Province in Turkey
The City Centre
There is certainly no shortage of photo opportunities in the city centre which is easy to navigate. For the first time, I did not get lost and was very confident at getting around.
I remember sitting on a park bench admiring Trabzon for the lack of hassle from vendors or street sellers. Right at that moment, four young lads launched into a sales patter about why I should pay one lira to weigh myself on their scales. I laughed and moved on.
Trabzon airport is directly on the coastal line. I had caught an internal flight from the west coast and as the plane began its descent, I seriously wondered if we were going to land in the sea.
Apart from that slight paranoia trip, I enjoyed spending time on the coastline. It is where all the locals hang out in tea gardens and it is also a great place to people watch. The local fishermen spend lazy days sitting there and the restaurants are a favourite for anyone that wants to eat fish.
Things to do in Trabzon
One of the main reasons to stay in Trabzon is to visit Sumela Monastery which is in the neighbouring town of Macka. The monastery was built into the side of a cliff face and it is quite unbelievable that it has not all come tumbling down.
Don’t forget to visit the House of Ataturk which stands on a hill overlooking the city
Also on the agenda should be the Hagia Sophia Museum and clock tower
Throughout Trabzon, there are many travel agents selling day time trips to Uzungol. It is a mistake to visit the lake just for the day as it is a long drive and there is also so much of this beautiful area to explore. Instead pack your bags and stay in a traditional Uzungol hotel for the night.
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