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PART 4: Atatürk House

Atatürk House, Trabzon
The Atatürk House is an extremely graceful art nouveau residence whose whimsical design deserves to be cited among the best examples of the architecture of the period anywhere in the world. It was built in 1903 for the Greek banker Constantine Kapagiannidis, and served as his home at a time when his name figured prominently among the political leaders of the imaginary Pontic Republic. It was abandoned in 1923, when another, very different, republic carried the day.

ataturk kiosk ataturk mansin trabzon image pics turkey

 It lodged Ataturk during his first visit to Trabzon in 1924. It was presented to him as a token of the city's gratitude on his third visit in 1937 and is now a museum. Both the building and the grounds remain in immaculate shape, tended by an army of keepers. Displays include an excellent collection of period furniture, interesting unpublished photographs of Ataturk and a fascinating military map that bears markings in the President's own hand indicating troop movements in the Kurdish insurrection of 1937.

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Back at Gülbahar Hatun, head back in a big loop that will take you down into the valley bottom and
through the maze of brightly colored houses at Erdoğdu district to the massive four-arched Aqueduct of Justinian.Built in the 6th century, it looks like a misplaced section of a gigantic bridge. Continue up the other side of the ravine to Bahçecik Street where the Citadel is located. From atop the ramparts, Trabzon can be seen sprawling from the wooded inland down to the sea. This panorama was once the private domain of the imperial family of Trebizond. whose palace and fabled treasury were located within the citadel. The formidable walls of this fortress protected the Comneni from hostile tribes and rival
sultans for over 200 years, in an age when the durability of a state was dependent upon the impenetrability of its walls.
From the citadel, follow the winding road back into the east ravine. As you descend into the quaint pastoral quarter below. groups of rambunctious children will latch on to you and a Pied Piper effect will emerge as more children pop out 01' hidden alleys and houses, eager to join in the fun. As the men are either working or sitting in the teahouses it is only the women and the children that are seen. Since not many tourists come this way your presence will be regarded as an event in itself. The female faces that were covered in Belediye Square are open here, exposing pale skin, red and blonde hair and blue-green eyes. The welcoming smiles, a spontaneous offer of hazelnuts, and invitations to tea signal your entrance into the private domain of these people.
Up the hill from this rustic oasis stands another of Trabzon's major monuments, the Church of St. Eugenius, or Yeni Cuma Mosque. Built in the nascent years of the Empire (1204-1222) the church celebrated the 3rd century saint who overthrew the cult idol of Mithra at Boztepe, suffered martyrdom under Diocletian and as a result was revered as the patron saint of Trebizond. As so often happens, his skull was miraculously discovered shortly after the foundation of the Comnene empire and a church was erected on the hallowed spot. The gold-plated cranium was put on display in a silver case within the church. It came in handy on occasion, as in 1222 when a leader of the
Seljuk Turks laid siege to the city and promised to destroy it. He pitched his tent atop the saint's tomb which stood outside the city walls, and even brought (as Byzantine chronicles inform us) women of light virtue into it. The saint then appeared to the blasphemer in a dream and misled him into an ill-prepared attack on the city where a divinely inspired flood wiped away the Turkish army. Sufficiently humbled, the Seljuk agreed to a pact with the Emperor and sent generous contributions to the church of St. Eugenius for the rest of his life.
However, the saint's powers proved impotent in the face of Fatih's invasion, and upon the city's
surrender the church was quickly converted into a mosque where the victorious Sultan made his first prayers in the city-hence the name Yeni Cuma Camii, the New Friday Mosque.
Aesthetically speaking, the Yeni Cuma Camii is the most pleasing of Trabzon's church/mosques. Built of a faded white ashlar stone, it has a graceful cupola with a feeling of extraordinary lightness and a slightly incongruous minaret added in 1461. From its vantage point atop the ravine you may also look back from where you came and trace your footsteps-up and over the valleys-all the way back to the Gdlbahar Mosque. A quick walk down any of the narrow streets in the other direction brings you back to the familiar terrain of Belediye Square.

 

PART 1: Imagined Empire
PART 2:
The Main Square
PART 3:
A Long Walk
PART 4:
Atatürk House
PART 5:
Bazaar District
PART 6:
Hagia Sophia
PART 7:
Boztepe
PART 8:
Rising Above
PART 9:
Lady of the Mountains
PART 10:
Obscure Monasteries
PART 11:
The Way to the Pass
PART 12:
Gümüşhane


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