Trabzon is an intriguing city situated on the coast of the Black Sea that has throughout history, been considered a gateway for trade throughout the region. Due to its strategic location, it became a culturally diverse port town that can still be evidenced within the city today. This full day tour will give you a great overview of Trabzon and includes visits to several of the area's most noteworthy sites, including the wonderful Sumela Monastery.
Boarding your minivan at the pier, you will set-off up a winding mountain road to the incredible Sumela Monastery. Officially known in Turkish as the Meryem Ana Manastiri, which is derived from the Greek Hagia Maria tou Mela (St. Maria of Mount Mela), the monastery looks as if it has been taken from heaven and pasted on the side of a mountain. No one has yet been able to answer the question of how man built such a huge monastery on the side of a mountain with the limited technology of the 6th century. From the bottom, the monastery looks as if it would be impossible to reach without divine guidance, while from the top, you may have an opportunity to experience the most gorgeous views anywhere. With eerie mists wafting in the air and a forested background, Sumela is a truly magical sight. Additions in the 14th century gave it its final look, and today, this ethereal structure is one of the most significant tourist attractions in all of Turkey. A walk up a sloped pathway gains you entrance into the Monastery, where you will have approximately 45 minutes to explore the complex and view the numerous frescoes while taking in the dramatic vista from this high perch.
Following your visit to Sumela, you will re-board your minivan and travel back to the ship for lunch (not included in the total tour time).
After lunch, your tour resumes with a visit to the country house of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic. Walk in the footsteps of this remarkable man and appreciate the views of Trabzon from above, a landscape he once gazed across, keeping late hours, drinking raki, conversing with companions and relaxing from the rigors of building a modern Turkish state.
From Ataturk's house you will next visit the St. Sophia Museum, which was once a church, built by the Commenos family in the 13th century. St. Sophia was expanded by Emperor Manuel Paleologos VII in the same century, and later converted into a mosque during the 16th century. After having the chance to look around, you will understand why this is the most important historical building in Trabzon, and subsequently converted into a museum in 1957. Some beautiful, but faint frescoes are still visible inside this remarkable building.
Continuing on, you will make your way to Ortahisar Buyuk Fatih Mosque, or The Golden Headed Mary Church, located in the Ortahisar district. This ancient Byzantine Church contains the most stunning examples of Ottoman ornamentation art. It is somewhat unusual that the church's reputation is Ottoman, as its character is definitely Byzantine, having been built in the 10th century, renovated in the following three centuries, and used for the crown ceremonies of Byzantine Emperors until the 15th century. However, in 1461 it was converted into a mosque after the Ottomans conquered the city of Trabzon, and so it stands today.
At the conclusion of your visit, you will re-join your transportation and transfer back to the pier and your waiting ship.
Please note: Guests should note that Trabzon is a remote city with limited facilities. This tour includes nearly 3 hours of walking, including an incline and steep steps at the Sumela Monastery. The pathway is over natural and uneven surfaces which can be slippery and difficult to negotiate in some places and there are no handrails for assistance. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests or those with mobility concerns and participants should have a good degree of stamina and agility. Weather appropriate clothing; flat, closed-toe, rubber-soled walking shoes, a hat and sunglasses are recommended. When visiting inside the Monastery and the Mosque, knees and shoulders must be covered. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are not permitted and guests must remove their shoes and wear head cover (provided by the tour guide) at the Mosque. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary. ***The visit to the Faith Mosque will not be possible on July 14th.