Location of Samsun within Turkey
Samsun (Black Sea)
|• Mayor||Mustafa Demir (AKP)|
|• Metropolitan municipality||1,055 km2 (407 sq mi)|
|Elevation||4 m (13 ft)|
|• Density||573/km2 (1,480/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+03:00 (TRT)|
|Area code(s)||(+90) 362|
Samsun, historically known as Sampsounta (Greek: Σαμψούντα), is a city on the north coast of Turkey with a population of around 1.4 million people. It is the provincial capital of Samsun Province and a major Black Sea port. The growing city has two universities, several hospitals, shopping malls, much light manufacturing industry, sports facilities and an opera.
The present name of the city may come from its former Greek name of Amisós (Αμισός) by a reinterpretation of eís Amisón (meaning "to Amisós") and ounta (Greek suffix for place names) to [eí]s Am[p]s-únta (Σαμψούντα: Sampsúnta) and then Samsun (pronounced [samsun]).
The early Greek historian Hecataeus wrote that Amisos was formerly called Enete, the place mentioned in Homer's Iliad. In Book II, Homer says that the ἐνετοί (Enetoi) inhabited Paphlagonia on the southern coast of the Black Sea in the time of the Trojan War (c. 1200 BC). The Paphlagonians are listed among the allies of the Trojans in the war, where their king Pylaemenes and his son Harpalion perished. Strabo mentioned that the inhabitants had disappeared by his time.
Paleolithic artifacts found in the Tekkeköy Caves can be seen in Samsun Archaeology Museum.
Samsun (then known as Amisos, Greek Αμισός, alternative spelling Amisus) was settled in about 760–750 BC by Ionians from Miletus, who established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. The city's ideal combination of fertile ground and shallow waters attracted numerous traders.
Amisus was settled by the Ionian Milesians in the 6th century BC, it is believed that there was significant Greek activity along the coast of the Black Sea, although the archaeological evidence for this is very fragmentary. The only archaeological evidence we have as early as the 6th century is a fragment of Wild Goat style Greek pottery, in the Louvre.
The city was captured by the Persians in 550 BC and became part of Cappadocia (satrapy). In the 5th century BC, Amisus became a free state and one of the members of the Delian League led by the Athenians; it was then renamed Peiraeus under Pericles. Starting the 3rd century BC the city came under the control of Mithridates I, later founder of the Kingdom of Pontus. The Amisos treasure may have belonged to one of the kings. Tumuli, containing tombs dated between 300 BC and 30 BC, can be seen at Amisos Hill but unfortunately Toraman Tepe was mostly flattened during construction of the 20th century radar base.
The Romans conquered Amisus in 71 BC during the Third Mithridatic War. and Amisus became part of Bithynia et Pontus province. Around 46 BC, during the reign of Julius Caesar, Amisus became the capital of Roman Pontus. From the period of the Second Triumvirate up to Nero, Pontus was ruled by several client kings, as well as one client queen, Pythodorida of Pontus, a granddaughter of Marcus Antonius. From 62 CE it was directly ruled by Roman governors, most famously by Trajan's appointee Pliny. Pliny the Younger's address to the Emperor Trajan in the 1st century CE "By your indulgence, sir, they have the benefit of their own laws," is interpreted by John Boyle Orrery to indicate that the freedoms won for those in Pontus by the Romans was not pure freedom and depended on the generosity of the Roman emperor.
The estimated population of the city around 150 AD is between 20,000 and 25,000 people, classifying it as a relatively large city for that time. The city functioned as the commercial capital for the province of Pontus; beating its rival Sinope (now Sinop) due to its position at the head of the trans-Anatolia highway.
In Late Antiquity, the city became part of the Dioecesis Pontica within the eastern Roman Empire; later still it was part of the Armeniac Theme. Samsun Castle was built on the seaside in 1192, it was demolished between 1909 and 1918.
Though the roots of the city are Hellenistic, it was also one of the centers of an early Christian congregation. Its function as a commercial metropolis in northern Asia Minor was a contributing factor to enable the spread of Christian influence. As a large port city – the commercial capital of Pontus  – travel to and from Christian hotbeds like Jerusalem was not uncommon. According to Josephus, there was large Jewish diaspora in Asia Minor. Given that the early evangelist Christians focused on Jewish diaspora communities, and that the Jewish diaspora in Amisus was a geographically accessible group with a mixed heritage group, it is not surprising that Amisus would be an appealing site for evangelist work. The author of 1 Peter 1:1 addresses the Jewish diaspora of the province of Pontus, along with four other provinces: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia." (Peter 1:1) As Amisus would have been the largest commercial port-city in the province, it is believed certain that the spread of Christianity in the region would have begun there. In the 1st century Pliny the Younger documents accounts of Christians in and around the cities of Pontus. His accounts center on his conflicts with the Christians when he served under the Emperor Trajan and describe early Christian communities, his condemnation of their refusal to renounce their religion, but also describes his tolerance for some Christian practices like Christian charitable societies. Many great early Christian figures had connections to Amisus, including Caesarea Mazaca, Gregory the Illuminator (raised as a Christian from 257 CE when he was brought to Amisus) and Basil the Great (Bishop of the city 330–379 CE).
Christian bishops of Amisus include Antonius, who took part in the Council of Chalcedon in 451; Erythraeus, a signatory of the letter that the bishops of Helenopontus wrote to Emperor Leo I the Thracian after the killing of Patriarch Proterius of Alexandria; the late 6th-century bishop Florus, venerated as a saint in the Greek menologion; and Tiberius, who attended the Third Council of Constantinople (680), Leo, the Second Council of Nicaea (787), and Basilius, the Council of Constantinople of 879. The diocese is no longer mentioned in the Greek Notitiae Episcopatuum after the 15th century and thereafter the city was considered part of the see of Amasea. However, some Greek bishops of the 18th and 19th centuries bore the title of Amisus as titular bishops. In the 13th century the Franciscans had a convent at Amisus, which became a Latin bishopric some time before 1345, when its bishop Paulus was transferred to the recently conquered city of Smyrna and was replaced by the Dominican Benedict, who was followed by an Italian Armenian called Thomas. No longer a residential diocese, it is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.
Samsun was part of the Seljuk Empire, the Sultanate of Rum, the Empire of Trebizond, and was one of the Genoese colonies. After the breakup of the Seljuk Empire into small principalities (beyliks) in the late 13th century, the city was ruled by one of them, the Isfendiyarids. It was captured from the Isfendiyarids at the end of the 14th century by the rival Ottoman beylik (later the Ottoman Empire) under sultan Bayezid I, but was lost again shortly afterwards.
The Ottomans permanently conquered the town in the weeks following 11 August 1420.
In the later Ottoman period, it became part of the Sanjak of Canik (Turkish: Canik Sancağı), which was at first part of the Rûm Eyalet. The land around the town mainly produced tobacco, with its own type being grown in Samsun, the Samsun-Bafra, which the British described as having "small but very aromatic leaves", and commanding a "high price." The town was connected to the railway system in the second half of the 19th century, and tobacco trade boomed. There was a British consulate in the town from 1837 to 1863.
Samsun, then home to an Armenian community numbering over 5,000, was heavily affected during the Armenian genocide of 1915, the last Armenian Zoroastrians – the Arewordik, or children of the sun, lived there. According to local eyewitnesses, such as Hafiz Mehmet, many of the Samsun Armenians were drowned in the Black Sea. Others were deported from Samsun and ultimately massacred in provinces further south. After the Armenian Genocide, there remained eleven Islamized Armenians and two Armenian physicians. Armenian orphans who had survived were given to Turkish families.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the Turkish national movement against the Allies in Samsun on 19 May 1919, the date which traditionally marks the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence. Atatürk, appointed by the Ottoman government as Inspector of the Ninth Army Troops Inspectorate of the Empire in eastern Anatolia, left Constantinople aboard the now-famous SS Bandırma 16 May for Samsun. Instead of obeying the orders of the Ottoman government, then under the control of the occupying Allies, he and a number of colleagues declared the beginning of the Turkish national movement. As a result of this, the Greek population of Samsun was subject to looting, massacre, and deportation by Turkish irregular groups, as noted by representatives of the American Near East Relief. However these groups couldn't operate freely in Samsun as they did in adjacent region of Merzifon and Bafra due to the presence of the Allied fleet. Being alarmed due to the presence of Greek warships in the vicinity of Samsun, the Turkish national movement undertook the deportation of 21,000 local Greeks to the interior of Anatolia. Later, in early June 1922, the city was bombarded by the Allied navy.
By 1920, Samsun's population totaled about 36,000.
During the Tanzimat period and the subsequent wars, Ottoman Muslims were exiled from the Balkans and Circassians were expelled from the Caucasus region. Many of the present inhabitants trace their origins from further west or east on the Black Sea coast. The overwhelming majority of people are Muslims.
Samsun is a long city which extends along the coast between two river deltas which jut into the Black Sea. It is located at the end of an ancient route from Cappadocia: the Amisos of antiquity lay on the headland northwest of the modern city center.
The city is growing fast: land has been reclaimed from the sea and many more apartment blocks and shopping malls are currently being built. Industry is tending to move (or be moved) east, further away from the city center and towards the airport.
To Samsun's west, lies the Kızılırmak ("Red River", the Halys of antiquity), one of the longest rivers in Anatolia and its fertile delta. To the east, lie the Yeşilırmak ("Green River", the Iris of antiquity) and its delta. The River Mert reaches the sea at the city.
Samsun has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa, Trewartha: Cf), typical for the region, but Samsun is nevertheless drier during summer and milder during winter than most of the southern Black Sea coast.
Summers are quite warm, the average maximum temperature is around 27 °C (81 °F) in August. Winters are cool to mild and wet, the lowest average minimum temperature is around 4 °C (39 °F) in January.
Precipitation is heaviest in late autumn and early winter. Snow sometimes occurs between the months of December and March, but temperatures below the freezing point rarely last more than a couple of days.
The water temperature is generally mild, fluctuating between 8–20 °C (46–68 °F) throughout the year.
|Climate data for Samsun (1991–2020, extremes 1929–2020)|
|Record high °C (°F)||24.2
|Average high °C (°F)||11.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||7.5
|Average low °C (°F)||4.4
|Record low °C (°F)||−8.1
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||72.5
|Average precipitation days||15.53||15.17||17.00||14.77||14.20||11.33||7.03||7.57||11.60||14.37||12.43||15.77||156.8|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||86.8||96.1||120.9||162.0||201.5||249.0||279.0||263.5||201.0||148.8||120.0||89.9||2,018.5|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||2.8||3.4||3.9||5.4||6.5||8.3||9.0||8.5||6.7||4.8||4.0||2.9||5.5|
|Source: Turkish State Meteorological Service|
Air pollution is a problem in some parts of the city, especially in winter when free coal is supplied to poor families by the government. NOx levels on Yüzüncüyıl Boulevard are among the highest in the country.
Samsun used to have many Greek Orthodox churches however all got either destroyed or converted to mosques.
Long distance buses the bus station is outside the city centre, but most bus companies provide a free transfer there if you have a ticket. Passenger and freight trains run to Sivas via Amasya. The train station is in the city center. Freight trains are taken by ferry to railways at Kavkaz in Russia, and will later see service to the port of Varna in Bulgaria and Poti in Georgia.
Modern trams run between the train station and Ondokuz Mayıs University. There is a plan to run electrically powered bus rapid transit between the railway station and Tekkekoy. City buses carry passengers actively. Dolmuş, the routes are numbered 1 to 4 and each route has different color minibuses. The 320 m (1,050 ft) long Samsun Amisos Hill Gondola serves from Batıpark the archaeological area on the Amisos Hill, where ancient tombs in tumuli were discovered.
Samsun-Çarşamba Airport is 23 km (14 mi) east of the city center. It is possible to reach the airport by Havas service buses: they depart from the coach park close to Kultur Sarayi in the city center. Horse-drawn carriages, (Turkish:fayton) run along the seafront. There was automated bike rental along the seafront, but it is not currently operational.
Samsun is a port city. In the early 20th century, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey funded the building of a harbor. Before the building of the harbor, ships had to anchor to deliver goods, approximately 1 mile or more from shore. Trade and transportation was focused around a road to and from Sivas. The privately operated port fronting the city centre handles freight, including RORO ferries to Novorossiysk, whereas fishing boats land their catches in a separate harbour slightly further east. A ship building yard is under construction at the eastern city limit. Road and rail freight connections with central Anatolia can be used to send inland both the agricultural produce of the surrounding well rained upon and fertile land, and also imports from overseas.
Donbas anthracite, imported via the Russian ports of Azov and Taganrog, is said to be illegally exported Ukrainian coal. In 2019 some crew were rescued but 6 died after a ship sank in the Black Sea.
There is a light industrial zone between the city and the airport. The main manufactured products are medical devices and products, furniture (wood is imported across the Black Sea), tobacco products (although tobacco farming is now limited by the government), chemicals and automobile spare parts.
Flour mills import wheat from Ukraine and export some of the flour.
Provincial government and services (e.g. courts, prisons and hospitals) support the surrounding region. Agricultural research establishments support provincial agriculture and food processing.
Most of the many new shopping malls are purpose built, but the former tobacco factory in the city center has been converted into a mall.
Atatürk Kültür Sarayı (AKM – Palace of Culture). Concerts and other performances are held at the Kultur Sarayi, which is shaped much like a ski jump. "Samsun State Opera and Ballet" performs in The Atatürk Culture Center. Founded in 2009 it is one of the six state opera houses in Turkey. The Samsun Opera have performed Die Entführung (W. A. Mozart) in the annual Istanbul Opera Festival. In collaboration with The Pekin Opera, The Samsun Opera performed Puccini's Madama Butterfly in the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival in 2012. Other performances include La bohème, La traviata, Don Quijote, Giselle. The current musical director is Lorenzo Castriota Skanderbeg.
There is an annual international festival.
There are several army bases in the city (Esentepe Kışlası, Gökberk Kışlası, 19 Mayis Kışlası and others). Should they become surplus to military requirements in future, for example due to reduced conscription in Turkey, it is currently unclear whether they would become urban open space or be further built on.
Tekkeköy Yaşar Doğu Arena opened in 2013.
Football is the most popular sport: in the older districts above the city center children often kick balls around in the evenings in the smallest streets. The city's football club is Samsunspor, which plays its games at the Samsun 19 Mayıs Stadium.
Basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, cable skiing (in summer), horse riding, go karting, paintballing, martial arts and many other sports are played. Cycling and jogging are only common along the sea front, where recreational fishing is also popular.
Samsun is twinned with:
They lotted and burned the houses of the Greeks... In early June, Hosford continued, Samsun faced the same threat of looting, massacres and deportation... Osman Aga's troops could not operate freely in Samsoun as they did later in Marsovan or had done before in the district of Bafra
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Samsun.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Samsun.|