Despite its long and turbulent history, SAMSUN has few remaining historical or scenic attractions, and even its tourist office now lies defunct. A thoroughly modern city with a population knocking on one million, it’s laid out on a grid plan, with endless unruly suburbs stretching 30km along the east–west coast road. It’s a busy port and centre for the processing of local agricultural produce and tobacco.

Because of its strategic location, Samsun changed hands frequently over the centuries. It was besieged, captured (and usually sacked) by the Pontic kings, Romans, Byzantines, several tribes of Turks and the Genoese, who had a major trading station here until 1425, when they torched the town rather than hand it over to Ottoman control. When the advent of the railway facilitated the transport of tobacco to Ankara and beyond, Samsun’s flagging fortunes revived, and by 1910 it was a thriving city of 40,000 inhabitants. The port city gained a place in Turkish folklore when then Mustafa Kemal, under the guise of “Inspector General of the Ottoman forces in Anatolia”, arrived in 1919 by steamship from İstanbul and quietly began to sow the seeds of independence among the local Turk population.

Nowadays, any spare time in Samsun may well weigh heavy on a traveller’s hands, but it holds a couple of hours’ worth of interesting sights, plus a fair amount to offer in terms of food and lodgings should you need to spend the night. The main square in the city centre, Cumhuriyet Meydanı, boasts a statue of Atatürk on horseback. Kazımpaşa Caddesi and Cumhuriyet Caddesi run north and south of the square respectively, while 19 Mayis Bulvarı, which runs both east and west, meets Fuar Caddesi, the main coastal road, at its far eastern end.


Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Turkey features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook