An old Silk Road city - day 29
Trabzon Travel Blog› entry 34 of 57 › view all entries
Trabzon, Turkey is another of the Black Sea towns. Well, Trabzon is a city actually with a population of 200,000 and over 900,000 people living in the area. It is a major shipping port and was founded by Greeks from Sinope (our next port) in 8th century B.C. It is claimed that this city was the site of the ancient Colchis but its current name “Trabzon” is from its trapezoid or tabletop shape. The city is perched on a high flat plateau between two deep ravines with rivers running down to the sea. Trabzon’s old enough and large enough to have every tourist thing I could want. And I bought them too – books, jewelry, handicrafts, tourist doodads, etc.
We had the best guide yet, a young man from Istanbul’s SeaSong tourist agency named Cem (pronounced Jim) who knew his history (as all Turkish guides are required to do), spoke understandable English and told us jokes too. He told us, among many other things, that Black Sea people are called the Laz people and are easily identified from others in this region by their blond hair, blue or green eyes and large noses. Since he was talking to a bus full of US citizens, many of whom fit this description, I wondered a bit about some of the jokes that followed but he was so good-natured that it really didn’t matter.
There are so many layers of history here that the past seems to be hovering over our shoulder everywhere we turn.
The Turks are good businessmen and never miss an opportunity to sell something to the passerby. Anywhere you go in Turkey, there will be a chance to buy a carpet. In Trabzon there is also the chance to buy beautiful woven silver jewelry. It’s light and lacy in appearance but very well made and sturdy.
We also visited the Hagia Sophia, a church built about 1250 A.
Trabzon has a reputation for being rainy and lived up to that reputation the day we were in port. The heavens opened in the afternoon and we went back to our nice dry cabin on the ship. We missed seeing what is supposed to be one of the major sights of this port – the Sumela Monastery. This monastery was built 1,000 feet up the side of a cliff just outside of town along the Old Silk Road between the West and China. The monastery was founded in the 4th century and has been associated with an important icon of the Virgin Mary since that time. I just couldn’t face climbing all those rocky steps in the rain but Cathy did and said it was worth the effort. Maybe next time I’ll manage to go too.