ART 5: The
bazaar district of Trabzon
The bazaar district of Trabzon is located on the seaward (north) side of Maraş
Avenue. It is the oldest and most colorful marketplace of the Black Sea region
You can spend a full day or more getting lost in its colorful back streets and
alleyways, admiring both trinkets and treasures amid the musty antiquity of its
centuries-old warehouses and archways.
Start your walk on Kunduracılar Caddesi, an avenue that glitters with the rows
of jewelry shops that line both sides of the street. Keep an eye out for the
distinctive Trabzon bracelet. a wide wristband woven out of extremely fine
threads of silver. This is a form of art unique to the Trabzon region, and all
the bracelets are crafted by hand in the backstreet ateliers of the bazaar.
At the end of Kunduracilar a light turn on the winding cobblestone of Semerciler
Sokak takes you into he heart of the textile section of the
bazaar. Congested with choosy housewives sifting through piles off S linen and
scarves, this is where one can find the widest selection of traditional Trabzon-area
feminine attire. The tiny shop of Mehmet Kiran at No. 66 offers an excellent
choice of red-black-cream keşans and variously striped peştemals ranging from
high quality models made of pure fine cotton, to cheaper ones with colors that
are less vibrant. He also has more exotic varieties that are not generally seen
on the streets.
Coutinuing on Semerciler you pass the tiny Ebubekir Mosque and enter the heart
of the bazaar, centered around Çarşı Camii, the biggest mosque in town. As usual
in all Turkish towns the block around the market mosque is an ideal vantage
point from which to observe the ebb and flow of urban life. The mixture of
business and ritual, routine and fantastic, drab and colorful define the
oriental marketplace. The Bedesten, formerly the vortex and safe house of the
Trabzon bazaar. is located near the mosque. The edifice was constructed by the
Genoese in the 14th century and subsequently added to and restored by various
Ottoman governors. With its looming walls now overgrown with shrubbery and its
ornate portal barely visible, it now serves as a storage area for lumber and a
haven for stray cats.
The nearby Taş Han ("Stone Inn") is a different story. Also known as Vakıf Han,
this is one of the many structures of its kind in the bazaar which served both
as a mall for local craftsmen and small merchants of a specific line of trade as
well as an inn for visiting long distance traders. It was built in 1531 by a
former governor, Iskender Paşa, and follows the plan of other Ottoman
caravanserais of the same period. A rectangular courtyard is surrounded by
arched enclaves where the camels of visiting merchants were stabled while their
owners stayed upstairs in rooms which also served as shops.
Walking into Taş Han is like taking a step back in time. The two major trades
carried on within are broom making and the manufacture of tin sheets. From the
hears the voice of children in the small mosque upstairs reciting Arabic verse
by rote from the Quran under the stern glare of a bearded hoca. On the second
floor walkway Dickensian urchins sit in small vaulted rooms hammering tin
containers into uneven sheets. Groups of men cut, sift and fasten strands of
straw until the shape of a broom emerges. Old men sit on straw stools, shuffling
their worry beads and toying with cups of tea. Streams of light wafting in
through the iron grilled windows cast a surreal gleam upon the blackened walls
of the han's interior.
Further down Bedesten street is the open market where all the food and produce
in the city is bought and sold. Under the roofed platform built within the
crumbling city walls, the din of peddling vendors, haggling women, and bawling
children is deafening. Unlike the
Istanbul bazaar which caters primarily to the
tourist, Trabzon's bazaar is purely functional. Every vegetable and fruit from
dark cabbage to cornelian cherry can be found here-a feast for the nose and eye.
On the surrounding streets, great barrels of goat cheese and butter brought down
from the highlands stand on display beside tubs of gooey, waxy honey. Feel free
to dip in with your finger: the shopkeepers are usually eager to test their
produce on the foreigner's discriminating palate.
Having pushed yourself to the limits of fatigue in the Oriental bazaar, what
better way can there be to wash off the grime and sweat of the day's exertions
than a Turkish bath? Meydan
Hamamı on Maraş Caddesi is the recommended spot.
Unlike other hamams in the region it has a separate section where women too can
bathe. Fully refreshed, you might then enjoy a cold beer at the rooftop
restaurant at the Trabzon Hotel, which takes on a festive air with a little
dancing and singing on weekends.
The Main Square
A Long Walk
Lady of the Mountains
The Way to