Trabzon is a province in Eastern Turkey, on the coast of the Black Sea. Its capital is the city of Trabzon, with a population of about 400,000. This is a community with a very long and rich history. It was originally called Trebizond, and was the center of a powerful medieval empire. It was a major stopover on the legendary Silk Road. If you are staying in a budget hotel in Trabzon, you are in a place in which, in the imaginations of people long ago, the streets were literally paved with gold.
One of the most important tourist attractions in Trabzon is the Hagia Sophia, a beautiful Byzantine church built on the site of a Roman temple in the 13th century. The oldest Byzantine structure in the city is the Church of St. Anne, which dates back to the 9th century. Not far from Trabzon, in a shadowy forest valley, is the eerie Monastery of the Black Virgin at Sumela. This seven storey high structure is perched on a cliff ledge. According to legend it was built by two monks from Athens on the personal instructions of the Virgin Mary. More likely, it is the work of a 4th century Byzantine emperor. In Sogusku, just outside Trabzon, you can see the Ataturk Mansion. Originally built in the 19th century by a Greek banker, this house became a favorite retreat for the great Turkish statesman Ataturk in the 1930's.