Trabzon is a city on the Black Sea coast of north eastern Turkey and the capital of Trabzon Province. Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and culture for centuries and a trade gateway to Iran in the southeast and the Caucasus to the northeast. The Venetian and Genoese merchants paid visits to Trebizond during the medieval period and sold silk, linen and woolen fabric; the Republic of Genoa had an important merchant colony within the city called Leonkastron that played a role to Trebizond similar to the one Galata played to Constantinople (modern Istanbul). Trabzon formed the basis of several states in its long history and was the capital city of the Empire of Trebizond between 1204 and 1461. During the Ottoman period, Trabzon, because of the importance of its port, became a focal point of trade to Iran and the Caucasus.
Trabzon Province has a total area of 4,685 square kilometres and is bordered by the provinces of Rize, Giresun and Gümüşhane. The total area is 22.4% plateau and 77.6% hills. The Pontic Mountains pass through the Trabzon Province. It used to be an important reference point for navigators in the Black Sea during harsh weather conditions.
The popular expression “perdere la Trebisonda” (losing Trebizond) is still commonly used in the Italian language to describe situations in which the sense of direction is lost. The Italian maritime republics such as Venice and in particular Genoa were active in the Black Sea trade for centuries.
It produced a white green bean, which was sold in Europe. It was, as of 1920, the only vegetable exported out of the province. Poultry farming was also popular in Trabzon. Sericulture was seen in the area before 1914. The area produced copper, silver, zinc, iron and manganese. Copper was kept for local use by coppersmiths. During the Balkan Wars production ceased due to poor exportation and fuel supplies.
Trabzon’s regional cuisine is traditionally reliant on fish, especially hamsi (fresh European Anchovy similar to the British Sprat or American Smelt). Trabzon meets 20% of the total fish production in Turkey. Regional dishes include the Akçaabat köfte (spicy lamb meatball from the Akçaabat district), Karadeniz pidesi (canoe shaped pita bread, often filled with ground beef, cheese and eggs), kuymak (a Turkish fondue made with cornmeal, fresh butter and cheese), Vakfıkebir ekmeği (large country-style bread), Tonya tereyağı (Tonya butter), tava mısır ekmeği (deep-dish corn bread) and kara lahana çorbası (bean and cabbage soup). Taflan kavurması is a cherry laurel dish served with onions and olive oil. Trabzon is also famous for its hazelnuts. The Black Sea region of Turkey is the world’s largest producer of cherry and hazelnut; and a large production area of tea; all of which play an important role in the local cuisine.