Samsun is located between the Kilzilirmark and Yesilirmak Rivers on Turkey’s northern Black Sea coast. This fertile region was settled by Greeks as far back as the 6th century BC, who established strong trade with the people of Anatolia. In the 3rd century, it came under the rule of the Kingdom of Pontus, before the Romans and then Byzantines took charge. Its tumultuous history continued with the Seljuks capturing the town around 1200AD, before Ilhanid Mongols invaded, and the eventual take over by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.
Samsun left its mark on history when, in 1919, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk began the Turkish War of Independence here, and exploring this monumental event in the country’s history is the main reason tourists visit. Explore the Square of the Republic, Cumhuriyet Meydani, near the port, then witness the Statue of Atatürk's Landing just nearby. The Archaeological and Atatürk Museum is also a worthy destination, with a fine collection of ancient artifacts collected in the surrounding area, as well as photographs and belongings of Atatürk himself.
You can also visit the Atatürk (Gazi) Museum to get a glimpse into his living conditions, with both his bedroom and study on display, as well as the Statue of Atatürk on horseback, designed by Austrian sculptor, Heinz Kriphel. Then head to Samsun’s oldest building, the Pazar Mosque, which was built by the Ilhanid Mongols in the 13th century. Horse-drawn carriages are a pleasant way to sightsee in Samsun, with many painted vibrantly with local scenes, and the people of Samsun have great pride in and respect for their horses.
After taking in the sights of Samsun, travel into the surrounding countryside through the Karadag Pass to the charming town of Havza. It was here that Mustafa Kemal Atatürkmade plans for the resistance, with the support of the town’s residents. For history buffs keen to explore Turkey’s road to independence, join us on one of our Samsun shore excursions to discover the legacy of Atatürk on this stretch of the Black Sea coast.