The old walled district of Trabzon contains numerous Byzantine churches long since converted for use as mosques. Unfortunately, the mosques are not always open to view, so you may not be able to see many.
Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)
Most prominent of Trabzon’s historic churches is the fairly well-preserved and restored Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya, 1263). Dedicated as a museum in 1964, its main hall was re-converted to a mosque in July 2103. Though still worthy of a visit, some of the historic building’s best features are no longer open to view. More…
Also dating from the 1200s, this Byzantine church is now a mosque (Ortahisar Fatih Büyük Camii) on the campus of the Mufti of Trabzon. Although, like all Turkish mosques, it is open to visits by non-Muslims, the building is not always unlocked. You may want to schedule your visit for just before or 30 to 45 minutes after one of the five daily prayer-times.
Other Churches & Mosques
Other notable churches include the Church of St Anne(Küçük Ayvasıl, 885), and St Eugenius (Yeni Cuma Camii, 1200s), which you may be able to visit around prayer-times.
The city market (Belediye Sebze Halı), 750 meters (800 yards, 10 minutes’ walk) west of Atatürk Alanı along Kahramanmaraş Caddesi just past the Müftü Camii (mosque), is fun to poke around in, and great for photography.
Fruits, vegetables (including immense cabbages), varieties of local cheeses, and of course lots of hazelnuts are all on view. The district is chaotic, you may get lost, but not for long. Just ask for Atatürk Alanı or meydan to get back to the main square.
Atatürk Villa (Atatürk Köşkü)
High in the hills above Trabzon,6 km (3.7 miles) to the southwest, a pure white Victorian villa overlooks the city and the sea. Built by the prominent Trapezuntine merchant family, it was presented to Kemal Atatürk on his visit to Trabzon.
Now a favorite venue for weddings (or at least for the formal wedding photograph session), the villa and its grounds are open to all for an admission fee.
Trabzon Museum (Kostaki Mansion)
A mansion built by prominent banker Kostaki Theophylaktos in the early 1900s is now the museum of Trabzon history. Exhibits cover Trabzon’s archeological and ethnographic history, as well as that of the mansion itself—a fine example of upper-class Ottoman Black Sea domestic architecture.
Old Trabzon was a walled city. Parts of the walls are still to be seen, particularly near the Atapark, a shady park west of the center along Uzun Sokak.
Trabzon is also a good base for visiting surrounding sites such as Sumela Monastery, although this famous monastery is currently closed for restoration until 2017. More…
Ayder & Rize
The alpine village of Ayder, and the tea-growing townssuch as Rize to the east of Trabzon, are worth exploration if you have several days here, and your own vehicle.
—by Tom Brosnahan