The New Trabzon
Sea, fish, colorful boats, nets and spectacular sunsets, each one the pith of everyday life in Faroz. And Yaroz Beach, where the lush green coast meets the Black Sea’s blue waters, is popular even on a sunny fall day. Detail of a door on Memişağa Mansion, four kilometers from Sürmene. This unique house on the shore is admired for its incomparable wood workmanship and stenciling.
Aiming for quality over quantity in tourism, Trabzon is showing signs of a major transformation, laying the foundation for sustainable tourism in an approach respectful of nature, history and essential values. There is a feverish hum of activity all over the city. The garden of the Ayasofya Museum has been given a new face and is now hosting violin recitals. The slopes of Trabzon Castle have been transformed into a colossal park. Renewal efforts around the city walls are continuing apace, and the Ortahisar Project is truly exciting. The quarter of Ortahisar, where Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was born and raised, will be turned into an island of culture through the restoration of some 140 historic houses. Built over two tunnels dating back to the Byzantine period, the quarter boasts authentic examples of Ottoman architecture.
The Trabzon gentlemen promenading in their suits and pocket watches over nearby Zağnospaşa Bridge offer the first clues to the new life here. When long-time city guide Ömer Faruk Öğretmen explains how no one went to the city’s movie theaters without a tie in his childhood, we can’t help but wonder if history is repeating itself in Trabzon. Another key project undertaken to develop regional tourism is the Eastern Black Sea Master Plan. Through this project, tourists coming to the region will be able to travel easily from Samsun all the way to Batumi without ever having to come down to the coast road. Certain highlands along the way are going to be declared touristic centers and accommodation venues opened in a planned approach appropriate to the natural environment. Efforts to encourage at-home bed&breakfasts on the Uzungöl road have already been initiated as part of the project. Converting the Yakupağa Mansion and Alacahan caravanserai into boutique hotels is among the targets, and two five-star hotels are already on the way in line with the city’s tourism vision. A road sign project backed by the Eastern Black Sea Development Agency aims to coordinate the city’s key touristic sites.
Trabzon photographer Atila Alp Bölükbaşı, who says that the road sign project is going to turn the city into a giant tour park, adds that the region’s real beauty spots are hidden in the highlands. With their mountain lakes, wooden houses and numerous festivals held every year between June and September, the flower-rich Trabzon highlands are being transformed into a festival venue. A promotional push has already been launched to inform the world of the riches of Trabzon, which is poised to become Turkey’s center of alternative tourism in the near future. Tourism offices have been opened at the airport, in the city center and at Uzungöl and Maçka. Professionally compiled guidebooks are already being distributed free of charge. Effective promotional campaigns have been conducted at tourism fairs in Dubai, Riyadh, Moscow and Berlin. All these moves have already begun to bear fruit. The radical increase in the number of tourists coming to the city is striking. The number of comers from the Arab countries and Gulf states alone is expected to top sixty thousand by year’s end.
Trabzon has also launched a major drive for cruise ship tourism with at least 23 passenger ships expected to dock here in 2012. Trabzon is also a magnet for faith tourism. The Ottoman legacy of historic mosques and monasteries adds to the city’s attractiveness. The opening of Sumela Monastery for worship 88 years after it was closed down is just one of the factors enhancing the city’s trademark value. One of Turkey’s top four cities in terms of quality of life, Trabzon is at the same time a rising Olympic city. Having successfully hosted four thousand athletes from 49 countries last year in the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), the city is gearing up for another giant sports event in 2014: the ISF World High School Handball Championship. Appropriately, Trabzon, whose name is like the word for banister in Turkish, is a city of terraces. And Boztepe at the top is reached by climbing a multitude of steps chock full of traces of the area’s diverse cultures. The magnificent meeting of the Black Sea’s blue with the dark red of the setting sun leaves a person awestruck by Trabzon. Like so many other beautiful things in this city…
Gastronomy capital of the Eastern Black Sea, Trabzon boasts a rich cuisine. Akçaabat kofta, Kalkanoğlu pilaff, Hamsiköy milk pudding, Sürmene pitta, Trabzon bread, kale soup, kuymak cornmeal porridge, kaygana anchovy omelette, anchovy bread, Laz beurek… They are all extremely tasty.
A commercial port throughout history, Trabzon is like a market within a market. In addition to Kazaz work and silver filigree, there is everything from gold ‘straw’ bracelets to copper wares at Kemeraltı Bazaar. And Uzun Sokak and its modern shopping centers have all the world-name brands.
At Uzungöl you can wander on the damp earth amidst corn stocks as tall as a man and choose your accommodation in one of the area’s wooden houses. Another alternative is the highland hotels overlooking the misty valleys at Hamsiköy near Maçka. For those who prefer starred hotels, the city center is your stop.
Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Trabzon-Istanbul flights every day of the week. Departure times are 00:35, 4:25 and 7:05 a.m. and 12:35, 3:20, and 8:20 p.m. from Istanbul and 3:15, 6:50 and 9:30 a.m. and 3:00, 8:30 and 10:45 p.m. from Trabzon. www.turkishairlines.com
One of Trabzon’s most beautiful art nouveau structures, the Ataturk Pavilion is in a pleasant garden in the Soğuksu hills. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who visited Trabzon three times in his life, is known to have stayed and written his will in this building.
Sultanmurat, Hıdırnebi, Hırsafa, Kadırga, Honefter, Şolma, Lişer, Lapazan, Pazarcık, Sisdağı… these are just a few of the Trabzon highlands, which host a series of colorful festivals from the first Sunday in June to the beginning of September.
ON THE ZİGANA SLOPES
Trabzon’dan Zigana Vadisi’ne uzanan asfalt yola muhteşem doğa manzaraları eşlik ediyor. Yüksek kesimlerde gittikçe güzelleşip geçit vermez hale gelen dağlar, kalabalıktan uzak köylere ev sahipliği yapıyor. Bin 700 rakımlı Hamsiköy bunlardan biri. Sık sık sislere gömülen
Magnificent natural landscapes line the asphalt road from Trabzon to Zigana Valley. The mountains, which become more beautiful and impassable at the higher elevations, are home to villages far from the madding crowd. Hamsıköy at 1700 meters is one of them. This charming Trabzon village frequently veiled in mist is famous for its highland bed&breakfasts and milk pudding. Osman Günel, who had been making pudding in the village for 40 years, says it gets its flavor from the quality of the milk.
(Technical Director, Trabzonspor Soccer Club)
“Trabzon is an extremely important and multifaceted city with a long history, a rich culture and a history of sport. Many people who have left a mark in Turkey in the fields of sports, art, politics, government, education and culture have come from Trabzon. We have a right to expect this city, which is distinguished in our country by the richness of its human resources, to exhibit development commensurate with that. We should not only expect it, we should also realize our responsibility to further it.”
Housed in an elegant 19th century mansion on Zeytinlik Caddesi, Trabzon Museum boasts fascinating archaeological and ethnographic collections. For information: www.trabzonmuzesi.gov.tr
With its examples of Ottoman civilian architecture and its streets, steps and fountains, Orta Mahalle in the Trabzon town of Akçaabat is an authentic settlement and member of the League of Historical Cities.
Four kilometers east of the town of Sürmene, the Memişağa Mansion is a fine example of the local architecture. This mansion, noteworthy for its wood workmanship, can be toured free of charge.
Another of Trabzon’s natural treasures, Uzungöl was formed when a landslide cut off the Haldizen River. Nineteen kilometers from Çaykara, this lake offers an unmatched rural landscape.
CITY OF PAINTERS
Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, Süleyman Saim Tekcan, Hakan Esmer, Mustafa Ayaz, Osman Akbay, Sali Turan, Mustafa Ata, Nedret-Mustafa Sekban, Yusuf Katipoğlu, Veysel Günay, Ali Candaş and Aydın Ayan are a few of the artists the city has produced and whose shows it frequently hosts.
Like an eagle’s eyrie in the heart of Karadağ, Sumela Monastery looks out over steep valleys covered in forest. Thousands of people flock to Honefter, which hosts highland festivals every August. A view of Trabzon from Boztepe, one of the city’s main observation points. The city becomes a sea of light at evening. Famous for its colorful wooden decorations, Güneyce Village Mosque is on the boundary with Arsin.