Trabzon City Guide
Trabzon is a Turkish city that doesn’t end up on many traveller itineraries. Situated on the Black Sea in the country’s northeast, it is certainly off-the-beaten-track.
Despite this, it is very much a hidden gem. The city itself is lush and green – a stark departure from the semiarid interior. Nearby, a 4th-century monastery, carved into the side of a mountain, beckons. Mustafa Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, built his country estate here.
Trabzon is a special place. As such, we highly recommend including it in your travel plans.
Come check out our Trabzon travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Trabzon, Turkey.
Soon after settling in, organize a day trip out to Sumela Monastery. You’ll find this stunning Greek Orthodox hall of worship an hour out of town in Altindere Vadisi National Park. You’ll gasp when you see the monastery, as it’s built into the side of a steep cliff.
It dates back to the 4th century when Roman Emperor Theodosius I ruled over Turkey. It’s said that their icon of the Virgin Mary was hand-painted by Luke, one of Christ’s Apostles. The structure reached its maximum prominence in the 13th century when Trebizond officials initiated an expansion.
After the Ottoman takeover of the region, Sultan Mehmed II recognized its significance. He forbade any Turks to harm it, ensuring its survival to the present day. These days, the Turkish government actively maintains this hidden gem. In fact, three years of renovations are set to wrap up soon.
If it’s open when you are in Trabzon, go. Its frescoes, rock-cut chapels, and dramatic views will easily be the top highlight of your trip to the region.
Back in town, drop by the Trabzon Hagia Sophia Museum. This historic structure isn’t nearly as big as its massive cousin in Istanbul, but it’s no less interesting. It opened as a Greek Orthodox church in the 13th century. However, after the Ottomans took over in the 16th century, they converted this Byzantine gem into a mosque.
Ottoman modifications (like whitewashing) destroyed most of its frescoes. Once the Turkish government converted the building into a museum, experts were able to restore a small portion. Due to the volume of works, though, a substantial number are available for viewing. As you exit, take note of this museum’s carved reliefs on its exterior.
As you travel through Trabzon and vicinity, you’ll be taken aback by its natural beauty. It was this quality that led the first democratically elected leader of Turkey to build a home here. Known as the Atatürk Pavilion, it was President Mustafa Atatürk’s retreat from the pressures of Ankara.
Exquisitely designed, it sits atop a hill high above the Black Sea. Take lots of photos of the exterior and its gardens, as authorities ban photography inside. It’s a shame, as contains period furniture from the early 20th century.
Learn more about Turkey’s Black Sea city at Trabzon Sehir Muzesi. Turkish for Trabzon City Museum, this institution tells the story of this region. In this small space, you’ll find a variety of displays that will bring its past to life. Do note that all displays are in Turkish – bring Google Translate or a local friend!
After checking out Sumela Monastery, spend some quality time exploring Altindere Vadisi National Park. This region is unlike the rest of the country – the Black Sea is close, so rains fall regularly. As you hike through the evergreen forest, mountains will rise up around in all directions.
Along the way, you’ll encounter several waterfalls, and if you’re lucky, local wildlife. These include deer, wild boar, goats, and foxes.
Back in Trabzon, take an hour or two to explore Avrupali Pazari. Translating to “Russian Bazaar” in English, it is one of the more atmospheric markets in town. Locals shop here for everyday essentials, like clothing, tools, and mobile phones. If you are searching for souvenirs, you may be disappointed. However, photographic opportunities abound here.
Speaking of photo ops, do not miss a chance to head up Boztepe Hill during Golden Hour. From this elevated vantage point, sweeping views of the city and the Black Sea are possible.
When you’ve finished taking panoramic photos, poke around – there’s more to see and photograph. On this hill, you’ll find no less than four fountains, a mosque, and Panagia Theoskepastos Monastery.
Woke up, only to find that the weather has rained out your plans? Salvage the day by spending it shopping at Forum Trabzon. From clothes to cosmetics, this mall has everything you need and want. When you’ve finished stocking up, grab a meal in its food court. Finally, take a circuit or two around its indoor skating rink before heading back to your accommodation.