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Descriptions of buildings    EN


Giresun, one of the coastal towns in the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey, is a city extending towards the only Turkish island, named after the city, in the Black Sea[1], settled on a small peninsula containing the ruins of an old castle.[2] It is known that the castle was originally built by Pharnaces (190–169 BC), son of King Mithridates of Pontus.[3]

Some information is available about the castle and the city, provided by many local and foreign travellers. The famous traveller Evliya Çelebi states that Giresun Castle is a Byzantine construction. He mentions that the castle was subsequently conquered by the Turkoman ruler Uzun Hasan, by the Genoese, and by the Ottomans through Mehmed the Conqueror, respectively. He also mentions, however, that the castle was not sufficient for the defence of the city that was constantly raided by Cossacks.[4]

Visiting the city for various purposes, travellers provided information about the view and the formation of the city and the castle from the port. Joseph de Tournefort, who travelled through Near Eastern countries in the 18th century, reported that the city was established between two steep rocks. He relays that the castle, which was built by the King of Pontus, is situated on a hill to the right of the port.[5] As one of the foreigners who visited the city in the second quarter of the 19th century, Hamilton mentioned that the castle was of Hellenic origin, and that it extended its strong walls along the coast. Providing detailed information about the physical structure of the castle, Fallmerayer emphasised, however, that the castle was partly ruined.[6] Another traveller who visited Giresun in the beginning of the 20th century was Louis Rambert. Rambert describes the castle as the remnant of an ancient castle with traces of medieval structure built on a hill extending towards the sea; he mentions that the stone blocks that formed the walls of the Council were connected to each other with lead.[7] Thus, from the 17th to the 20th century, the information provided by travellers about the situation of the castle mostly focus on its structure and on the fact that it was situated on a steep rock.

Other than these, the Trabzon Provincial Yearbooks of 1871 and 1872 report that “there is a castle that was built either by the Genoese, or in a previous period.”[8] It is understood from the narratives of  Evliya Çelebi that Giresun came under Ottoman rule during the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror. The castle maintained its importance until the Tanzimat Reform Era, when the classical Ottoman state organisation underwent radical changes. Until then, Dizdars (Ottoman castellans), appointed on  Sultan’s orders, and kethudas, as their assistants, were responsible for the management of castles, their provisions, ammunition, and soldiers.[9]

From the 16th century onwards, the city saw a rapid development. While about 30 castellans served in the castle at the beginning of the century, the settlements inside and outside of the castle were divided into neighbourhoods, and it became a refuge that could host between five and ten thousand people in the case of danger.[10] It is perfectly possible that the ruined structure of the castle as mentioned by foreign travellers is generally related to the wars and internal disorders in the 19th century. At the end of the 18th century, Dizdaroğlu Ali and Abdi, two revolting notables of the city, took control of the castle. Trabzon’s Governor Numan Pasha, and Canik’s Tax Collector Hacı Ali Bey were assigned to capture the riots, and suppress the revolt. Numan Pasha was able to resume control of the castle, inflicting heavy damages  by mortar shots from the land, and cannon shots from the sea, but without human casualties.[11] Before the wars of the Ottomans with the Austrians and Russians between 1787 and 1792 broke out, Trabzon’s Governor Numan Pasha demanded from the central government sufficient number of soldiers, cannons, gunpowder and similar needs of ammunition and reinforcement for the castle. Ships belonging to the Russian Navy, came to the Ottoman Black Sea coasts and damaged the ports and merchant ships at a time when the defence of the castle was being reinforced. The Russians tried to damage the Ottoman ships anchored in Giresun Port in the autumn of 1788 but they were detected on time, and were repelled repelled. This incident caused the central government to act more rapidly for the repair of the castle.[12] However, it was also found out, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–1812, that the site of the castle did not help to prevent Russians from landing.[13]

At the same period, Laçinoğlu Hacı Mustafa, who was the notable of the city and the castellan, Tuzcuoğlu, a notable of Rize, his son-in-law Kalcıoğlu Osman, Hacı Salihoğlu, and several others revolted against the government, and, again, Trabzon’s Governor, and Canik’s Tax Collector were assigned to suppress the revolt.[14] The same revolts were the reason for the damage on Giresun Castle, which is inferred to be an important centre for the revolts of notables against the government. Castles, which were important for the administration and provisioning of cities until the Tanzimat Reform Era, regressed into structures just for defence purposes after the Tanzimat.

Consequently, Giresun Castle, which has been known since the antiquity and understood to have been utilised by each subsequent dominant power until the first third of the 19th century, continued to be used subsequently for the defence of the city Ottoman rule, and lost its importance in connection with the changing administrative structure.


[1] Feridun Emecen, “Giresun”, İslam Ansiklopedisi, vol. 14, TDV Yay., Istanbul, 1996, p.78.
[2] Besim Darkot, “Giresun”, MEB İslam Ansiklopedisi vol. IV, Maarif Yayınları, Istanbul, 1948, p.789.
[3] Darkot, “Giresun”…, p. 789; Emecen, “Giresun”…, pp. 78-79; Mustafa Aydın, “Giresun Kalesi (1764-1840)”, Karadeniz İncelemeleri Dergisi / Journal of Black Sea Studies, Spring, vol. 12, issue 12, 2012, p. 40;
[4] Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatname, vol. 2, (Ahmet Cevdet Paşa Tab’ı)  İkdam Matbaası, Dersaadet, 1314, p. 89.
[5] Joseph de Tournefort, Tournefort Seyahatnamesi, vol. 2, (Ed.: Stefanos Yerasimos; Transl.: T. Tunç Doğan), Kitap Yayınevi, Istanbul, 2013, p. 118.
[6] Aydın, “Giresun Kalesi…”, p. 40.
[7] Louis Rambert (Undated), Gizli Notlar, (Transl.: N. Ahmet Banoğlu), Tercüman 1001 Temel Eser, p. 124.
[8] Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi 1288 (1871), p. 177; 1289 (1872), p. 176; Oktay Karaman, Giresun Kazası (1850-1900), Doctoral Thesis, Institute of Social Sciences, Atatürk University, Erzurum, 1999, p.13.
[9] Karaman, Giresun Kazası…, p. 15.
[10] Feridun Emecen, “XV. ve XVI. Yüzyıllarda Giresun ve Yöresine Ait Bilgiler”, Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi / Journal of Faculty Education, Ondokuz Mayıs University, December 1989, issue 4, p. 159; Emecen, 1996, p. 81.
[11] Aydın, “Giresun Kalesi…”, p. 41.
[12] Aydın, “Giresun Kalesi…”, pp. 42-43.
[13] Aydın, “Giresun Kalesi…”, p. 46.
[14] Aydın, “Giresun Kalesi…”, pp. 47-48.

Author: M. Servet İPEK*

The administrative structure that changed after the Tanzimat Reform influenced the urban architecture and the government buildings as well. The Pashas’ Mansions which were used in local governments during the pre-Tanzimat period were renamed as government offices, or provincial halls, and were fully westernized to reflect a modern administration. These structures, which were still functional in many Anatolian cities, had suffered various damages and repairs over the years. The Giresun Government Office is one of them.

It can safely be said that the first government office in Giresun about which there is very little evidencedates back to 1860.[1]It was reported in 1869 that, since the office was in ruins, a repair cost of 5,500 kuruses was demanded from the central provincial administration, and that the cost would not be met by the treasury but by the municipality;[2]about 18 years later, in 1886, it was decided that it would be demolished as it suffered extreme damage, and a new office would be built.[3]For the new Government building, local administrators headed by KaptanYorgi Pasha, the mayor of the time, submitted a report, plans and maps to the Provincial Administrative Council of Trabzon in the beginning of 1887.[4]In the same year, the construction of the Government building started, and in the meantime, a house was rented for 1,000 kurusesto the house the Administration, so function of the Government office not to be delayed until the completion of the new office.[5]The Government Office, which is still used,[6]was built next to the telegraph office[7],and underwent repairs in the beginning of the 20thcentury. It is stated that the first repair was made in 1912, and the second in 1917 due to a damage inflicted in a raid by the Russian Navy. In the aftermath of the raid, a building was assigned for a rental price of 1,000 kuruses to be met by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in order to prevent any delays in the administration.[8]As mentioned above, the building still survives, and is functional.

* Master student, Sinop University, Sinop, Turkey.
[1]Oktay Karaman, Giresun Kazası (1850-1900),Doctoral Thesis, Institute of Social Sciences, Atatürk University, Erzurum, 1999, p.24.
[2]Karaman, Giresun Kazası…, ibid.
[3]SezaiBalcı, “Giresun Belediye Başkanı Kaptan Yorgi Paşa 1829-1904”, Tarih Boyunca Karadeniz Ticaretiv Canik-Samsun II, Canik Belediyesi Kültür Yayınları, Samsun, 2013, p.1324.
[4]Doğan Yavaş, “Arşiv Belgelerine Göre 19. Yüzyılda Giresun Şehrive Kalesindek İmar Faaliyetleri”, Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi / Journal of Social Sciences, Faculty of Science and Letters, Uludağ University,issue: 26, 2014/1, p.45.
[5]Sezai Balcı, “…Kaptan Yorgi Paşa…”, ibid.
[6]Karaman, Giresun Kazası…, aynıyer.
[7]Sezai Balcı, “…Kaptan Yorgi Paşa…”, ibid.
[8]Karaman, Giresun Kazası…, p.24-25.