The Walls of Trabzon (or the “Walls of Trebizond”) are a series of defensive walls surrounding the old town of the city of Trabzon, northeastern Turkiye. Also the fortifications are called the Trabzon Castle (Turkish: Trabzon Kalesi). The upper and middle towns are flanked by steep ravines cut by the Zağnos (Iskeleboz) and Tabakhane (Kuzgun) streams to the west and east respectively, while the lower town extends to the west of Zağnos.
The most of the city walls are still standing and are among the city’s oldest buildings. In fact, their oldest part can be dated back to 1st century AD during the Roman Empire era. Historical sources provide information about older stages of their construction. Xenophon, who visited the city in 5th century BC also mentioned the existence of city walls.
During the 20th century the valleys on both the western and eastern sides of the middle and upper towns were built up with illegal constructions, in some cases obstructing the view of the walls. In the last two decades the municipality of Trabzon has initiated a series of redevelopment projects surrounding the old town. As of 2017 the western Zagnos Valley has been turned into a park with unobstructed view of the walls and aqueduct, and the illegal constructions in the eastern Kuzgun (or Tabakhane) valley have been torn down. Kuzgun Valley will eventually also be turned into a park.
The walls further divided the city into three parts; the Upper Town or “fortress” (Yukari Hisar), the Middle Town (Orta Hisar) and the Lower Town (Aşağı Hisar).
YUKARI HISAR (UPPER TOWN)
The Upper Town functioned as the citadel and as the acropolis of the city. It is believed that the citadel was built as the first construction in 2000 BC. Some early sources mention the existence of ruins of structures such as hippodrome, tower, bath and palace. Trabzon Castle has undergone various changes in history.
The Upper Town was accessible through a double gate with the Middle Town. The imperial palace of the Empire of Trebizond was located in the Upper Town. After the surrender of the city to Ottoman forces a small mosque was built next to the palace.
It is mentioned in some ancient sources that structures such as hippodrome ruins, towers, baths and palaces exist here. It is understood from the ruins of the building, which is defined as the palace, of cut stone and square plan. In the sections built by the time of Emperor Iustinianus, the walls continued with round appearances. The inner castle, which has undergone changes in various periods, is higher than other fortresses, and is further reinforced with a thick two-story wall and towers in the south. The east side of the inner fortress and its slopes facing Kuzgundere are protected with walls. In these sections consisting of rubble and block stones, sometimes human reliefs are also found. Some inscriptions dating to the Ottoman period in the Trabzon Museum were also found among the city walls.
ORTA HISAR (MIDDLE TOWN)
Orta Hisar is the continuation of the upper and lower parts. It has no regular form. Its two gates, Imaret Kapı (literally: Alms Kitchen Gate) and Zağanos Kapı (Zaganos Pasha Gate) are situated in the west. It has two more gates at other sides, Tabakhane Kapısı (Tannery Gate) and Kule Kapı (Tower Gate). Notable buildings found here are Orta Hisar Mosque (Panagia Chrysocephalos Church), Governor’s mansion, Zağanos Bridge, Kule Hamamı (Tower Bath), Çifte Hamma (Twin Bath), Amasya Mosque, Şirin Hatun Mosque and Musa Pasha Mosque.
It is the continuation of the Middle Fortress, Upper Fortress and Inner Fortress built by Emperor Alexios II (1297–1330) and does not have a uniform appearance. There are imaret and Zaganos gates to the west of the fortress, and the Tabakhane and Kule gates are located in other sections. In addition, Ortahisar Mosque (Panagia Chrysokephalos Church), YeniCuma Mosque (Hagios Eugenius), Government House, Zağnos Bridge, Tower Bath, Double Bath, Amasya Mosque, Şirin Hatun Mosque and Musa Pasha Mosque.
ASAGI HISAR (LOWER TOWN)
The Lower Town stretches in the west from Zağanos Tower down to the sea. These walls with the market and Mumhane gates in the east unite with the Central Fortress walls in the south. However, an inscription with the tughra of Ottoman Fatih Sultan Mehmed II (reigned 1444–46 and 1451–81) is situated above the gate in the Moloz Tabya (literally: Rubble Bastion). In the east, there are two gates, Pazarkapı (Marketplace Gate) and Mumhane Kapı (Chandlery Gate). Historical buildings around the Lower Fortress are Molla Siyah Mosque (St. Andreas Church), Hoca Halil Mosque, Pazarkapı Mosque, Kundupoğlu and Yarımbıyıkoğlu manions, Sekiz Düzenli Hamam (bath), Tophane Hamamı (bath), Hacı Arif Hamamı (bath) and İskender Pasha fountains.
This part of Trabzon Castle was built during Emperor Alexios II (1287-1330). However, there is an inscription and an inscription on the door of the Rubble Bastion in Lower Hisar, stating that Fatih Sultan Mehmet had it built.
TRANSPORTATION TO TRABZON CASTLE
It is possible to reach the historical castle located in the city center of Trabzon in a 5-minute journey with Bahçecik Minibus. It is possible to start your trip from the most magnificent part of the Trabzon Castle, which is still standing today (Upper Hisar), and walk around the sections (Middle Hisar and Asagi Hisar).