"Trabzon'a Hos Geldiniz" Trabzon by maykal
Trabzon Travel Guide: 124 reviews and 417 photos
What attracted me to Trabzon? A seedy, built-up, crumbling old port full of Russian prostitutes was how my guidebooks tended to sum it up, while other travellers I spoke to looked at me disgustedly, asking, "Trabzon? Why are you going there?" Well, if I hadn't needed a Georgian visa from the city's consulate, I probably wouldn't have gone at all. First impressions of the city lived pretty much up to dismal expectations...emerging from the bus station, we had to walk through the red light district to get to the centre of town. I was secretly hoping the visa would be instantaneous...
However, things brightened up once we'd climbed the hill up to Ataturk Alani, the main square. A mix of low-rise modern buildings and dilapidated red-roofed houses surrounded a wide open space filled with cay bahceleri. After finding accommodation in a convent down a steep backstreet, we set off to explore...and that was when Trabzon got under my skin. Instead of taking the early morning bus out of there, I stayed for several days, returning three times later on in the trip. Trabzon became one of my favourite places in all of Turkey.
Why? For starters, it is not just a city of concrete, sailors and lycra-clad whores called Natasha, although there's no denying all three exist in ample quantities. No, a walk through Trabzon will lead you to discover Ottoman houses in the Ortahisar (old city) on an escarpment, shabby but picturesque residential quarters down in the ravines below, a lively seafront promenade, an Armenian church with paintings to rival those in the Caucasus, lush green surroundings, hidden monasteries on hills, cobbled bazaars selling everything from anchovies to Russian dolls...
With the opening of the Georgian border after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Trabzon has seen a huge influx of traders in all forms from all of the republics (mainly Georgia and Azerbaijan, but I met a fair share of Russians, Ukrainians and a Turkmen too). In some parts of town, Cyrillic signs outnumber those in Turkish, while in the restaurants you can come across khachapuri and borsch alongside kebap on the menu.
Trabzon also makes an ideal place to prepare for, or recover from, a trekking trip in the Kackar mountains, a couple of hours away by bus, and serves as a good gateway to Georgia. And don't forget to take a tour to the famous Sumela Manastiri, hanging on a cliff-face about an hour south of Trabzon. If you're travelling in the Black Sea region, you'll probably end up here at some point...but don't just hop on another bus straight away...take your time and maybe Trabzon will win you over as well ;@)
More of my ramblings on Trabzon can be read by clicking here!
### 2005 UPDATES
I revisited Trabzon twice in June 2005, on my way to and from Georgia. On first arriving, Trabzon didn't immediately grab me...I remembered there being a huge red light district by the port, but walking through it on the way to find a hotel, I was surprised at just how much bigger it seemed to be....the whores older and maybe sadder than before, the bars and pastanes seedier than I remember. A sign over a bar reading "atesli silahlar girilmez" (automatic weapons not allowed) did alarm me somewhat...it didn't appear to be joking.
My next disappointment was down by the sea...what used to be a pleasant seafront promenade is now a mess of bulldozers and rubble. Two cafes round a small harbour have been saved, but the rest is mud and ruin...a real shame.
My third shock was heading to the old town around Ortahisar...one of the picturesque yet ramshackle old quarters under the bridge has been razed...whether by natural disaster or by government force, I don't know, but it is not a pretty sight anymore. Plus two new huge bridges have opened across the ravines, spoiling the views completely.
But after a day of lamenting the big changes, Trabzon worked its charm on me again, and I ended up loving it more than last time. New photos and new comments will be written up soon :@P
Second only to Sumela Manastiri, if you've walked around Trabzon, you'll already know what Uzungol looks like. The green... more travel advice
Behind Trabzon is a tall hill called Boztepe...there are the remains of two monasteries up here, although they proved to... more travel advice
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