Things to Know

The city of Samsun is located in the northeast of Turkey between two river deltas, where the Kizilirmark and Yesilirmak rivers flow.

Samsun enjoys a long past history and its myths date back even farther. According to ancient legends the delta east of Samsun was home to the Amazons - a people of female warriors who chose archers primarily because they had one breast removed in order to shoot with accuracy. The word 'Amazon' is derived from an old Greek language meaning 'without breasts'.

The legend of the Amazons, a society composed entirely of female warriors, dates back around 1200 BC. Almost nothing is known about their origins or how they operated as it's possible that they were never real. The Amazon myth persisted after the Greek invasion however, with their homeland vaguely located along the world’s largest river.

In 3rd century BC, Samsun became the territory of expanding Kingdom of Pontus. Initially it belonged to the empire created by the great conqueror Alexander The Great that broke into small kingdoms after his death in 4th century BC. At its zenith Kingdom of Pontus extended its control over about two thirds of modern Turkey and northern Black Sea shore trading towns.

Samsun was first taken over by the Romans who were later replaced by the Byzantines. Then it was conquered by the Seljuks and became a part of an Ilhanid Mongol principality before becoming incorporated in a Genoese trading network. Eventually, Samsun came under Ottoman control in 15th century.

As a result of making a losing choice in the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was in shambles. The victorious Entente powers occupied Istanbul as well as Anatolia. The Greeks had visions of conquering Smyrna (old Izmir); to the French Hatay region and Syria; to the Italians south-eastern Anatolia (Mediterranean region). Meanwhile, before departing for home, the British had already conquered Arabia, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Practically all of the territory in Anatolia was beyond any type of control. There were only remnants of Ottoman Forces and Greek or Turkish brigands left, as British troops sought to end the anarchy in those parts. The south of Anatolia had already been somewhat conquered by British forces, but restoration efforts needed to be carried out from the north.

When the Ottoman general Mustafa Kemal was victorious in Gallipoli, his prowess led to him being made Inspector General of all forces in Anatolia. Upon realizing he would not be returning to Istanbul at this time, he set up quarters near Samsun and toured troops around the region.

He made the people of Samsun aware of the Greek and Italian landings, staged mass meetings and made quick connections with army units in Anatolia. He started to form links between various nationalists groups by sending telegrams of protest to foreign embassies and about British reinforcements in the area as well as their aid to Greek brigand gangs.

Nevertheless, officers from Britain and France watched him closely with British warships nearby to keep an eye on his movements. Mustafa Kemal and his staff moved inland after one week in Samsun, first to Havza about 53 miles away, then Amasya 85 kilometers (53 miles) distant. Mustafa Kemal declared the war of independence in act at Samsun city.

Places to Visit in Samsun