Sumela Monastery is no doubt one of the most famous historical landmarks in Turkey. The monastery is situated on a steep cliff, giving it a much more unique look and a feeling of seclusion. Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox Monastery that was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is believed that the monastery was built by two monks named Sophronios and Barnabas during the reign of the Byzantine Empire in the 4th century. It is known that the structure was restored in the 6th century. The monastery that we see today is the one that was renovated in the 13th century. During this time, the monastery was extremely important in the area and it was financed by the empire itself.
After the area was taken over by the Ottomans, the monastery was granted privileges and the rights of the monastery were preserved. In the 18th century, the building was renovated one more time and in the 19th century, additional buildings were built.
The Sumela Monastery has a library, kitchen, chapel, student rooms as well as the main church. Even though some parts of the monastery managed to survive to this day, there are some parts of it that are in ruins.
The walls of the Trabzon Castle are the oldest part of the castle, dating back to the 4th century BCE which corresponds with the Roman Empire era. The castle is said to be built in 2000 BCE. It is also believed that there was a tower, a bath and a palace within this place. There are many places where you can stay around the Trabzon castle if you want to visit the place. The castle is open to visit till 05:00 pm on weekdays and closed on weekends. There is no entrance fee required to visit the Trabzon castle.
TRABZON HAGIA SOPHIA MUSEUM
If you thought that there was only one Hagia Sophia, you are wrong. Hagia Sophia found in Istanbul is not the only one. There is another structure named Hagia Sophia in Trabzon as well. Trabzon’s Hagia Sophia was, similar to the Istanbul’s, built as a church back in the 13th century CE. After the arrival of the Ottomans, the church was turned into a mosque in 1584. Even though it was used as a hospital during World War I, later on, it was turned into a museum in 1964. There have been attempts to make the structure a mosque again, however, it still remains as a museum today. The building is considered to be one of the most well-preserved Byzantine structures and there are many paintings and mosaics that you can see inside.
The Vazelon Monastery is a Greek Orthodox church that was built in 270 CE. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, in 565 CE, the monastery was renovated by the emperor’s order. Even though the structure was restored many times after, it was rebuilt in 1410 CE. On the outside of the walls surrounding the monastery, there are frescos depicting Heaven, Hell and the Apocalypse. For long years, the monastery received a lot of damage, however, it completely collapsed in 1922. Today, the monastery lies in ruins.
The founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk visited Trabzon in 1924 and the house he stayed in was bought by the Trabzon Municipality to be given as a gift to Atatürk. He stayed in the house a few times after he was given the gift. After his death, the house was turned into a museum. Inside the museum, his personal belongings and photographs are displayed for the public to see.
Uzungöl is an extremely famous location in Turkey, known for its natural beauty. The place is located between the mountains in a valley and there is a huge lake in the middle. This is the lake that gives the area its name Uzungöl which can literally be translated as “the long lake”. It is believed that the first settlers came to the area in 1586. At first, there were mostly Greeks living in the place however, after 1876, Muslims arrived in the area. It is 99 kilometers away from the central Trabzon. Even though it is such a beautiful place, it should also be reminded that the area is surrounded by forests. There are many different plants and animals found in this place. Some of the animals include grizzly bear, wolf, coyote, fox, wild boar and wildcat. Therefore, it is a good idea to be careful while wandering around.
Peristera Monastery is as famous as the other monasteries located in Trabzon. The monastery is believed to be built towards the end of the 8th century. It is also known to be one of the oldest trade centers. It is not only a place to witness the marks of history but also a place where you can admire the beauty of nature. Around the monastery, there are many hotels for visitors to stay which you can opt for if you want to be away from the city and close to nature.
The structure where the Bedesten Bazaar is located is known to be built in the 11th century. It became a bazaar after the Ottoman Empire took over the city of Trabzon. The structure has 48 rooms that are now used as shops. There are many stores in the bazaar that sell traditional items, handmade products and decorative objects. You can lose yourself around all these items and discover the culture in the area. The Bedesten Bazaar is opened at 10:30 am and closed between 10:00 and 11:00 pm.
Boztepe is a hill that overlooks the entire city of Trabzon which why it is a hotspot for both locals and tourists alike. Boztepe is mostly visited by those who want to watch the sunrise in the early morning. You can also have breakfast in the restaurants on the hill while watching the beautiful sunrise, preferably with a significant other. Alternatively, it is also visited by those who want to watch the sunset, however, during the sunset time, the hill is a lot more crowded compared to the morning.
GÜLBAHAR HATUN MOSQUE
Gülbahar Hatun Mosque was built by the mother of Sultan Yavuz Selim of the Ottoman Empire in 1514. The mosque is named after her name. The mosque was a part of a much larger complex, however, the only surviving part of the complex today is the mosque itself.
ORTAHISAR FATİH MOSQUE
Ortahisar Fatih Mosque was built as a church during the Byzantine Empire era in the 10th century. The church was renovated in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries and there were additions made to the church. In the 13th and 14th centuries, many important rituals were held in this church. After Trbzon was taken over by the Ottoman Empire in 1461, the church was turned into a mosque. It is believed that Sultan Mehmet II prayed his first Friday prayer in this mosque after conquering Trabzon.
KAÇKAR MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Kaçkar Mountains have the highest summit in the Black Sea region with a 3972 meters height. It is a popular spot for mountaineering. The forests covering the mountains are rain forests that receive the most rainfall in Turkey. The area is extremely rich in terms of its flora and animals most of which are wild. If you are into mountaineering or nature photography, it is an area that you definitely need to visit.