Merhaba from Trabzon,
After the disappointment of Uzungöl, Trabzon itself is a rejuvenated pleasantry (especially when the sun is out). Whereas Uzungöl is presented – by 20-year old photos – as a bucolic paradise, Trabzon is unashamedly and unpretentiously a town. Towns are urban settlements which don’t have pretences. This is an urban settlement and the urban renewal and modernisation which is taking place here is fitting.
Once on the ancient Silk Road, Trabzon is built on the Black Sea coast. The only flat land here is man-made – reclaimed from the sea for an airport.
Trabzon’s urban renewal has transformed the meydan from a standard street for cars to a buzzing centre for pedestrians. It’s busy every evening of the week. Anyone with a shop here sees perhaps ten times the passing foot traffic than other parts of the town.
The foreshore’s redevelopment (still partially complete at the time of writing) provides common areas for bicycling, walking, picnicking, boating, concerts, dining and sunbathing. These sorts of developments are not always obvious in Türkiye. Here, conservative thinking is sometimes accompanied by onerous bureaucracy. Whilst in many administrative functions, the Türks promulgate that constipation (frustratingly for locals and foreigners alike), on this occasion someone has persevered with acumen to see the fruits of their efforts. The results are an urban renewal to which the locals are voting with their feet.
The big drawcard around Trabzon is the Sümela Monastery. By any definition, this is an extraordinary place.
The legend seems to have it that the accolites were instructed to find Mary’s image on a wall of a black mountain. Their holy mission was to keep looking for it until they found it. The inaccessible overhang here – where the monastery was subsequently built – was allegedly where they eventually found the image (or, at least, where they stopped looking). There’s a sneaking temptation to surmise that they colluded to announce the discovery so as to call a halt to the long search.
The monastery makes the trip to Trabzon worthwhile. Uzungöl was a pretence whilst Trabzon is an unashamed urban settlement bettering itself with urban renewal.
Güle güle from Trabzon