Ancient Trebizond, Trabzon has an astonishing history. Always a melting pot for traders and travellers, it was the capital of its own empire from the 13th century until the Ottomans came knocking after taking care of Byzantium. Many of its monasteries continued to flourish under Turkish rule. The messy end of the Ottoman Empire came with a brief but violent period of Russian occupation. Today, Trabzon is a busy bustling city with plenty of charm hidden just below the surface.
Fly from Istanbul or Ankara and land on the narrow strip of runway next to the Balck Sea, or drive along the coastal motorway that goes all the way to Samsun.
Buses run to and fro along the Black Sea coast, all the way across the Georgian border to Batumi. Major attractions like the Sümela Monastery (45km inland) are well-served by tours. Ask at the tourist information booth in the city centre.
The airport has a number of car rental firms.
Anchovies (hamsi) are a local staple on the coast, trout farms abound on the mountain streams inland. The village of Hamsiköy at the top of the pass into neighbouring Gümüşhane specialises in sutlaç, a milky rice pudding. Hazlenuts and tea are both grown in the area.