Trabzon
© LOC

The city of Trabzon is located in north-eastern Turkey on the coast of the Black Sea. Boasting the Black Sea’s largest port, Trabzon became a prominent point in trade and is in fact located on the Silk Road - a historical webbing of various trade routes that once connected large parts of Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe, and even Africa. Throughout history, the Turkish city has seen a wide range of religions, languages, and cultures co-exist within its reaches.

The city was first founded in 756 BC by Miletan traders, and was originally named Trapezouss, due to its proximity to the harbour. After the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the imperial family from Komnenos - rulers of the Byzantine Empire - established a kingdom along the Black Sea coast, with Alexios setting up the Empire of Trebizond. However, in 1461, the city was conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. And even though Selim the Grim was the prince, Suleiman the Magnificent – who was born in Trabzon, ultimately rose to power in 1520. During the late Ottoman period, a great Christian influence in terms of culture, and a wealthy merchant class who created several Western consulates swept through the city.

Trabzon’s most important monument is most certainly the Sümela Monastery, which is a Greek Orthodox monastery located at Mela mountain, resting at the bottom of a steep cliff. One of the more significant monasteries built during the Byzantine era, Sümela Monastery is also settled among the thick forests and streams of Altindere national park in the region of Maçka. Trout farms lie 45 km away from Trabzon city centre, the tourist-frequented Trabzon castle is situated between the sea and the hills, while Uzungöl Lake is famous for its amazing scenery.

A common taste of the region is anchovies (hamsi), found in many dishes such as hamsi pilavı (anchovies cooked with rice). Kaygana (omelette or pancake), cornflour bread, Trabzon pita, Akcaabat meatballs, Laz Pastry and Hamsiköy rice pudding are other famous culinary creations.

Another attraction, the Kemeralti Bazaar, is a historical market in which shoppers can find Trabzon’s unique woven hand-made silver jewellery.

Football
Throughout Turkey, football is widely regarded as the nation’s most popular sport, especially in Trabzon. After all, the city is home to one of the country’s most prestigious clubs - Trabzonspor. In fact, until 2010, Trabzonspor was the only Turkish club in Anatolia to have won the Turkish Super Lig six times, matching the feat already eclipsed by three Istanbul-based teams in Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray.

Trabzonspor, coached by their previous national team player Tolunay Kafkas nowadays, also have a proud European history, having beat such teams as Barcelona, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Lyon in the past.

Former Trabzonpor keeper Senol Gunes, a club legend, holds the record for not conceding a goal in Turkish football history (1100 minutes) and was the coach of the Turkish side that claimed third place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.