Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast of north-eastern 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 Iran in the east, Russia and the Caucasus to the North. Venetian and Genoese paid visit and sold silk, linen and woolen fabric. During the Ottoman period Trabzon, because of the importance of its port, became a focal point of trade to Iran, India and the Caucasus. Trabzon formed the basis of several states in its long history, and was the capital city of the Empire of Trebizond. The population of the city is 400,187 (2006 census).
Ancient and Mediaeval
Originally, it was founded as Trebizond (Τραπεζοῦς) by Greek traders from Miletus
The city was one of a number (about ten) of Milesian emporia, or trading colonies along the shores of the Black Sea. Others include Sinope, Abydos and Cyzicus (in the Dardanelles). Like most Greek colonies, the city was a small enclave of Greek life, and not an empire unto its own, in the later European sense of the word.
Trebizond's trade partners included the Mossynoeci. When Xenophon and the "ten thousand" Greek mercenaries were fighting their way out of Persia, the first Greek city they reached was Trebizond (Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.5.10). The city and the local Mossynoeci had become estranged from the Mossynoecian capital, to the point of civil war. Xenophon's force resolved this in the rebels' favor, and so in Trebizond's interest.
The city was added to the kingdom of Pontus by Mithridates VI Eupator and it became home port for the Pontic fleet.
When the kingdom was annexed to the Roman province of Galatia in 64–65, the fleet passed to new commanders, becoming the Classis Pontica. Trebizond gained importance under Roman rule in the 1st century for its access to road leading over the Zigana Pass to the Armenian frontier or the upper Euphrates valley. New roads were constructed from Persia and Mesopotamia under the rule of Vespasian, and Hadrian commissioned improvements to give the city a more structured harbor. A mithraeum now serves as a crypt for the church of Panaghia Theoskepastos in nearby Kizlara, east of the citadel and south of the modern harbor. The city was pillaged by the Goths in 258, and, although it was afterwards re-built, Trebizond did not recover until the trade route regained importance in the 8th to 10th centuries.
After the Fourth Crusade in 1204, a Byzantine successor state was founded there with support of Queen Tamar of Georgia, the Empire of Trebizond, which ruled part of the Black Sea coast from Trebizond until 1461, when its ruler, David, surrendered to Mehmed II, ruler of the Ottoman Empire. Following this takeover Mehmed sent many Turkish settlers into the area, but the old ethnic Armenian, Greek and Laz communities remained. During the late Ottoman period, the city had a great Christian influence in terms of culture, and a wealthy merchant class who created several Western consulates.