Turkey lush, humid and ubiquitously green Black Sea Coast surprises those who imagine the country to be nothing but barren steppes. From Turkey European border with Bulgaria to the Georgian border, dense pine forests cover the mountain tops; lush vegetation and bountiful crops grow in the lower elevations and valleys. Along the coastline, mile after mile of beautiful uncrowded beaches offer sun, swimming and relaxation. In the springtime, delicate wild flower blossoms carpet especially the rolling meadows in the hills of the Eastern Black Sea Coast.
Throughout the region, fishing villages and mountain hamlets alike preserve their indigenous and traditional wooden architectural styles. The humid climate and fertile soil encourage the cultivation of a variety of produce, including tea, tobacco, corn and hazelnuts.
Once called Trapezus, and later Trebizond, the modern town of Trabzon is the major city of the region. It was founded in the 7th century B.C. by Miletian colonists and was the center of the Comnene Empire established after the fall of Byzantine Istanbul.
The exiled Byzantine ruled until 1461, when the Ottomans conquered the area. The restored 13th Century Byzantine church, used for centuries as a mosque and now the Ayasofya Museum, is the jewel of Trabzon monuments. Splendid frescoes, some of the finest examples of Byzantine painting, cover every surface of the interior church walls. Several other churches were converted to mosques, such as the Faith Mosque and the Yeni Cuma Mosque. The Ottoman Gulbahar Mosque, a typical provincial style building, is set in a lovely tea garden. Wooden houses fill the old quarter in the ancient fortifications, and it still retains the spirit of a medieval town.