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Trabzon, Turkey

Strategically located on a hillside on Turkey’s eastern Black Sea coast, Trabzon is a fascinating destination to explore. Founded as a Greek trading enclave in 756 B.C.E. by the Milesians and later ruled by the Roman and Byzantine empires, Trebizond (as it was known) flourished as a geopolitical center for trade along the ancient Silk Road. The city’s reign as the capital of the Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461 C.E.) ended when the Ottomans conquered the city. Thereafter, the predominantly Greek Orthodox community and churches were largely converted to Islam—all these historic influences can still be seen in Trabzon today. Top local attractions include the 4th-century Greek Orthodox Sumela Monastery (closed for renovations until 2017), the 13th-century Hagia Sophia, and the Trabzon Museum and the house of Atatürk—both fine examples of Trabzon’s 20th-century architecture. Foodies will appreciate the region’s hazelnuts, cheese fondue, Trabzon bread, Akçaabat köfte (spicy lamb meatballs) and hamsı (anchovies) when they’re in season. As the gateway between Europe and Asia, Trabzon is a fusion of cultural influences that will delight all who visit.