Encyclopedia
Trapezounta

Today it is called Trapzon or TREBIZOND, historically Trapezus, city,
capital of Trabzon il (province), northeastern Turkey. It lies on a wide
bay on the southeastern shore of the Black Sea backed by high
ranges of the Pontic Mountains, which separate it from the central
Anatolian Plateau. The heart of the city is on a triangle of tableland
between two deep ravines, with remains of an ancient Roman-built
harbour at its base. At its southern end stands a ruined citadel. The
city centre is enclosed on the east and west by walls that date from
Byzantine times. The commercial quarter is centred around a bazaar
and park in the eastern part of the city near the old Genoese castle of
Leontocastron; east of this lies the harbour.
Trapezus, one of the most easterly of ancient Greek settlements, was
probably founded in 756 BC by colonists from Sinope. Like many other
Black Sea sites, it is associated in legend with the Amazon women
warriors. Trabzon is said to be the site on which the army called the
Ten Thousand by the writer Xenophon, one of its members, reached
the sea after its long march that followed defeat in 401 BC. The city
prospered under Roman rule until sacked by the Goths after their
victory over Emperor Valerian's forces c. AD 257. As the Byzantine
port nearest to Armenia, lying on a critical frontier of the empire, the
city was rebuilt and figured prominently in the eastern campaigns of
the emperor Justinian I (reigned 527-565). The see of Trapezus was
supposedly founded by St. Andrew the Apostle; Eugenius, its patron
saint, was martyred under the Roman emperor Diocletian (reigned
284-305). In the 9th century the city was made the capital of a new
military province of Chaldia.
After the sack of Constantinople by the crusaders in 1204, two
grandsons of the emperor Andronicus I Comnenus escaped and
founded an independent offshoot of the Byzantine Empire at Trapezus,
with Prince Alexius Comnenus as emperor. His successors, the Grand
Comneni, reigned longer than any other Byzantine family, forming
extensive alliances through marriage with foreign rulers and promoting
their prestige through the cult of St. Eugenius and the glorification of
their real or legendary achievements. Although subject to brief periods
of domination by the neighbouring Seljuq Turks, Mongols, and
Byzantines, the empire based at Trapezus was largely bypassed by
both the Seljuqs and the Mongols because of its relative isolation,
difficulties of access, and conflict among its enemies. Its prosperity lay
partly in export of its own products--silver, iron, alum, cloth, and black
wine--and partly from taxes on transit trade to western Iran. The end of
the dynasty came when its territories were annexed to the Ottoman
Empire in 1461. Thereafter, Trabzon remained under Turkish rule
except for a brief Russian occupation (1916-18) during World War I.
Modern Trabzon retains much of its medieval aspect. Monuments
include most of the city walls, a part of the palace of the Grand
Comneni, and several Byzantine churches preserved as mosques.
Among the churches the best preserved and most remarkable is the
church Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia), now used as a museum, which
overlooks the sea just west of the city centre. The church is a domed
basilica with superb 13th-century wall paintings that were revealed and
cleaned during 1957-63. One of the finest Ottoman monuments is the
mosque and mausoleum of Gülbahar, wife of Sultan Bayezid II (reigned
1481-1512).
Trabzon is the terminus of the most practicable route over the
mountains from Erzurum. For centuries it was on one of the leading
trade routes between Europe and Central Asia, and it prospered
particularly after the 13th century, when it served as the chief port for
Tabriz and western Iran. Its significance declined, however, with the
construction of the Ankara-Erzurum railway c. 1900 and the
development of the southern Iranian port of Khorramshahr. The city's
later revitalization has largely resulted from improvement in its port
facilities and communications. Trabzon is the site of the Black Sea
Technical University, established in 1963. It is linked by air with Ankara
and by steamer service with Istanbul.
Trabzon il, with an area of 1,907 sq mi (4,938 sq km), is well forested
and densely populated. The large variety of crops grown include
tobacco, fruits, and hazelnuts. Small deposits of copper, lead, and iron
are worked. Pop. (1980) city, 108,403; (1983 est.) il, 737,700.

Tourist Attractions

Trabzon has a number of tourist attractions, some of them dating back
to the times of the ancient empires that once existed there. In Trabzon
itself the centre of the city is a hub of shops, stalls and restaurants
surrounding a square which includes a tea garden. Boztepe park is a
little park and tea garden on the hills above Trabzon that has a
panoramic view of almost the entire city. The terrain in Trabzon is such
that although the view commands a view far above that of the buildings
below, the view is still close enough to be able to observe the flow of
traffic and the people moving around in the city. The Ayasofya
museum, Trabzon castle and the Ataturk museum are all places that
showcase the history of the town and the Byzantine and Ottoman
heritage. Within the province itself, the main attractions are the Sumela
monastery and Uzungol. The Sumela monastery is built on the side of
a very steep mountain overlooking the green forests below and is
about 50km south of the city. Uzungol is famous for the natural beauty
of the area and the amazing scenery.
www.efxinospontos.org