Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast of northeastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Persia (Iran) in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast. The Venetianand Genoese merchants paid visits to Trebizond during the medieval period and sold silk, linen and woolen fabric; the Republic of Genoa had an important merchant colony within the city called Leonkastron that played a role to Trebizond similar to the oneGalata played to Constantinople (modern Istanbul). Trabzon formed the basis of several states in its long history and was the capital city of the Empire of Trebizond between 1204 and 1461. During the early modern period, Trabzon, because of the importance of its port, became a focal point of trade to Iran and the Caucasus.
The 10th century Trebizond Gospel is a testimony to the artistic traditions of the city.
Folk dancing is still very much in evidence in the Black Sea region. The "Horon" is a famous dance which is indigenous to the city and its surrounding area. It is performed by men, women, the young and elderly alike; in festivities, local weddings and harvest times. While similar to Russian Cossack dances in terms of vividness, the Trabzon folk dance is probably indigenous to the eastern Black Sea region, which has an impressive variety of folk music .
The people of Trabzon have a reputation for being religiously conservative and nationalist. Many Trabzonites generally show a strong sense of loyalty to their family, friends, religion and country. Atatürk selected his presidential guards from Trabzon and the neighbouring city of Giresun because of their fierce fighting ability and their loyalty.
Outside of the relatively urban space of Trabzon proper, and within parts of it as well, rural traditions from the Black Sea village life are still thriving. These include traditional gender roles, social conservatism, hospitality and a willingness to help strangers; and all aspects, both positive and negative, of an agrarian lifestyle, such as hard work, poverty, strong family ties, and a closeness to nature.
The people of the eastern Black Sea region are also known for their wit and sense of humour; in fact many jokes in Turkey are told about the natives of the Black Sea region Karadeniz fıkraları (Black Sea jokes). The character Temel, a universal buffon figure found in many cultures, forms an important part of the Turkish oral tradition.
The city's profile was raised somewhat in the English-speaking world by Dame Rose Macaulay's last novel, The Towers of Trebizond (1956), which is still in print.
A view from the Black Sea Technical University campus.
Black Sea Technical University in Trabzon hosts students from all over Turkey, especially from the Black Sea and East Anatolian regions, as well as students from the Turkic states in Central Asia.
Historically the city was a center of Greek culture and education and from 1683 to 1921, a teachers' college operated known as Phrontisterion of Trapezous, which provided a major impetus for the rapid expansion of Greek education throughout the region. The building of this institution (built in 1902) still remains the most impressive Pontic Greek monument in the city and today hosts the Turkish school Anadolu Lisesi.
Trabzon's regional cuisine is traditionally reliant on fish, especially hamsi (fresh European Anchovy similar to the British Sprat or American Smelt). Trabzon meets 20% of the total fish production in Turkey. Regional dishes include the Akçaabat köfte (spicy lamb meatball from the Akçaabat district), Karadeniz pidesi (canoe shaped pita bread, often filled with ground beef, cheese and eggs), kuymak (a Turkish fondue made with cornmeal, fresh butter and cheese), Vakfıkebir ekmeği (large country-style bread), Tonya tereyağı (Tonya butter), tava mısır ekmeği (deep-dish corn bread) and kara lahana çorbası (bean and cabbage soup). Taflan kavurması is a cherry laurel dish served with onions and olive oil. Trabzon is also famous for its hazelnuts. The Black Sea region of Turkey is the world's largest producer of cherry and hazelnut; and a large production area of tea; all of which play an important role in the local cuisine.
Trophies won by Trabzonspor at the club's museum.
Football is the most popular sport in Trabzon. The city's top sports club, Trabzonspor, was until 2010 the only Turkish football club in Anatolia to win the Süper Lig (six times), which was previously (until Trabzonspor's first championship title in the 1975–76 season) won only by the "Big Three" clubs of Istanbul, namely Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş. Due to Trabzonspor's success, the decades-old term "Big Three" which defined the most successful football clubs in Turkey had to be modified into the "Big Four".
Trabzonspor is also one of the most successful Turkish clubs in the European Cups, managing to beat numerous prominent teams such as Barcelona, Inter, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Olympique Lyonnais. Renowned former players of Trabzonspor include Şenol Güneş, Lars Olsen and Shota Arveladze.
Trabzon hosted the First Edition of the Black Sea Games in July 2007 and the 2011 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival.