Black Sea Cruise -- Samsun
Visited August 6, 2008
next morning, we disembarked at Samsun, an
ancient Greek town alive with modern bustle. Wedged here
river deltas is one of the busiest ports on the Black Sea. Warriors
changing Samsun's architecture since the 6th century BC, leaving little
standing but for some remains lying in the Archeology Museum
such as this
mosaic. Today's Turkey started here as well when a popular
started a revolution that led to the current republic.
Amasya -- we came, we saw, we photographed
Soon we were off on a long bus ride inland to Amasya, once
home to the Amazons and the Pontic Kings who exploited the chaos left
after the death of Alexander the Great. Julius Caesar finally
wrested them from power in a brief battle and an even briefer trip
report: "Veni, Vidi, Vici."
north wall has room for Ottoman mansions and Pontic Tombs -- but little
Amasya squeezes itself between two steeply rising banks of the Iris
river. The north bank has a thin stretch of land populated
today by 19th century Ottoman homes, now mostly hotels.
Behind on the steeply rising slope are the tombs on the
Pontic Kings, now empty caves.
The Hittites settled here about 5500
BC. The steeply rising slopes made this an easy town to
defend (note the fort high atop the north slope in the picture at
On the south bank there is somewhat more room for the rest of Amasya to
unfold into a city of about 75,000.
This was a town suitable for rule by the Ottoman crown prince while his
father held the sultanship. In fact, one of the greatest of
the the Sultans, Fatih Sultan Mehmet
, was the
12-year-old governor here in 1444 when his father resigned, making him
Sultan in rather precarious straits. As Sultan, he ordered his father
to take back the leadership of the army. He
himself eventually conquered Constantinople at age 21.
Another crown prince built an imperial mosque whose minaret we see in
the picture above. It was to honor his father with whom he
was to have a falling out before he was killed by his own brother, a
routine event for princes who didn't become sultans.