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City plans    EN


*Professor 19 Mayis University, Samsun, Turkey.

The centre of Samsun was a small castle at the beginning of 14th century. Although it had a commercial pier, it did not have a large commercial capacity. It was said that there were some derelict houses around the Genovese Castle, which had been captured in ruins in 1430[1]. The Samsun castle, which formed the city centre and was constructed by Eretna, was a triangular structure surrounded by 8 meters long (on the sea-side) and 6 meters long (to the inner land) walls and could accommodate 200 soldiers. The area of the castle was confined by a moat of 3-4 meters in depth[2]. There were mansions that belonged to the judge, the castle commander of the city etc. and a few small mosques built in the Ottoman and Eretna periods around the castle. There was also a ditch surrounding the castle walls at least 2 meters in depth in 1870[3].The inhabitants initially preferred to settle around the city walls and would rather occupy the lands between the Turkish castle and the Genovese castle. Their homes either had two storeys made from wood or a first store was mainly preferred constructed with stone materials. Each house had a fruit garden, especially olives were abundant along with apple and pear trees.There was a cemetery towards the sea and a few baths on the land surrounding the castle. Helmut Von Moltke mentioned in his diaries about there being a pier called Kapan-ı Dakik (Flour Storage) and a Turkish castle mis-described as a Genovese castle. After stating the presence of an inn, a few stone mosques with wooden minarets among the Turkish mansions and an old and abandoned port consisting of colossal stones, Moltke wrote about the wall ruins belonging to Amisos which was the enemy of Rome; that is, the Genovese Castle being Amisos which was left to the Ottomans after being captured in 1430. Moltke also stated that Samsun was surrounded by olive forests, while also taking note of the mansions with their extended gardens. Then he recorded a village situated just above the city centre and some large forests[4]. Charles Felix Texier described the Samsun city centre between 1833-1843 like this: the Old Amisos ruins (the Genovese Castle) were located 3 km southwest of the Samsun city centre, whereas the port belonging to this castle was completely filled with sand and "çakıl taşı" (flick stones)carried with the streams[5]. It would eventually be possible to get much more information about the city center of Samsun in 1847 from the Seyahatname (travel diary) of Feruhan Bey. According to Feruhan Bey, Samsun had a city plan, which consisted of 1,200 houses, 500 of them belonging to Turks, 60 to Armenians and a few to Europeans. Feruhan Bey noted the presence of a stone bazaar, an inn, a bath and seven mosques, scattered among Turk houses along the seashore. It is also stated that there were shrines on the land surrounding the Turkish houses, called Seyyid Kutbeddin, İsa Baba, Sadi Bey and Hüseyin Gazi. His describing of the Armenian and Greek villages as being the districts of the city centre and having a church on the hilly area beyond the Turkish houses which themselves formed the city centre and making no mention of the castle has cast doubts on the information related to the city[6].Mordtman also gave the following information about the Samsun city centre in 1850: ships remained in the open sea due to lack of a port and disembarkation was made by boats. Mordtman’s mention of a place where the boats approached brings to mind the Kapan-ı Dakik pier, which was known from the previous years.Perhaps this pier was left for the usage of tradesmen who made grainshippings rather than for the foreign citizens. Mordtman, who also mentions the Samsun castle, stated that there was no evidence of any warehouses to accommodate the products handled by the tradesmen. According to his observations, these products and shipments standing in the middle of the streets were being transferred by camel caravans, himself further taking notice that there were several overcrowding problems because of the camels filling the city streets during this process. He also stated that there were trade branches belonging to European companies, along with consulates of England, Austria, Naples, Sweden-Norway situated at the city centre, which itself was surrounded by swamps. Apparently Mortdman like other travellers before referred to the Greek village of Kadıköy, which was situated above the hill surrounding the city centre and was surrounded by forests. Moreover, he is concerned with the ruins of Amisos (Genovese castle), the Amisos port and walls in his work[7]. In 1865, there were also two mosques in the city center with minarets built from stone materials, while the other minarets were wooden. According to information dating to 1865, these were both large and small, including 8 baths, whereas the streets were covered with mud at rainy days. It is known too that the sewerage was flowing openly in the city centre and the construction of a sewer system began, but this was not enough due to the fact that their manholes were left open. Besides, it was also recorded that the water was brought to the city centre from Mert River through open channels and in 1865 there was a government office in a remote location (one hour away from the city center), with the intention of developing the empty lands with housing[8]. There were fountains in the town providing the water to the citizens. We could also mention the natural springs and the private wells around the urban landscape which quenched the thirst of bypassers[9]. The Government Office, located close to the Hançerli Mosque changed its site, by moving to a place with a large garden on the way to the Kılıch Dede Mosque, close to the Mert River. A customhouse and quarantine houses were built at the sea-side of the town center. The foundations of the customhouse and quarantine houses decayed since they were closely located to the sea[10]. There was also lighting with lanterns in the streets of the Samsun city centre from 1866[11]. According to the British consulate reports, in front of the custom house there was a stone wharf for disembarking goods. To either sides of the town, little hills stretched away, low, grassy and often wooded. Streams and marshlands abounded in 1869[12]. The fire of 1869 eradicated all the wooden houses as well as the wooden piers. During the rebuilding of the city in 1870, a new city map was drawn and first of all, sewage ditches and streets were constructed in the city center of Samsun. The roads, under construction in 1870, were devised to be between 5-10 m wide and between 210-3,440 m long. All 36 streets divided the new Samsun along the sewage system of the city[13]. Half of the port (dock) which had started to be built after the fire was finished by 1872[14]. The construction of the Samsun-Sivas highway between 1867 and 1888 accelerated the access to the city centre. A clock tower, 10 meters high, was built in the place of the bazaar in 1884. A kerosene deposit warehouse (gaz yağı deposu which had the capacity of 60,000 wooden kerosene containers (gaz yağı kasası) (was built in the southwest of the city centre in 1886 next to the seaside[15].


[1] P. Minas Bıjıkyan, Karadeniz Kıyıları Tarih ve Coğrafyası (1817-1819) , İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Yayınları, İstanbul 1969, s. 32-35.

[2] Mehmet Yavuz ERLER, “XIX. Yüzyıl Osmanlı Karadeniz Sahil Kalelerinin Yöre Sosyo-Ekonomik Yapısına Olan Katkıları”, International Committee of Pre-Ottoman and Ottoman Studies (CIEPO), Trabzon 2011, p.777-778.

[3] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol.I, Trabzon 2007, p. 562-563.

[4] Helmuth von Moltke, Türkiye Mektupları, İstanbul 1969, s.142.

[5] Ali Suad, Küçük Asya, İstanbul 1339, Texier, Description de L’Asies Mineure.

[6] Feruhan Bey, Bağdat Seyahatnamesi, İstanbul 1868, s.3-4.

[7] Hayat Tarih Mecmuası , Ocak 1979, sayı.1, s.44-45.

[8] Ruzname-i Ceride-i Havadis, 16 recep 1282, s.296.

[9] Osman Keskiner&Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Osmanlı Samsunundaki Su Kültürü Mirası: Çeşme ve kuyular”, Samsun Sempozyumu, 13-16 Ekim 2011, Cilt. III, Ceylan Ofset, Samsun 2012, p. 643-652.

[10] Ruzname-i Ceride-i Havadis, 21 Şaban 1282, sayı. 320.

[11] Ruzname-i Ceride-i Havadis, 29 Şaban 1282, sayı.326.

[12] Musa Şaşmaz, Trade Reports of the Trebizond Province on British Documents (1830-1914), Vol. I, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara 2014, p.356.

[13] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, ibid (Avrupai Bir Kent…), p.557, 558, 563.

[14] La Turquıe, 30 Eylül 1872, sayı. 276.

[15] Tarik, 17 Eylül 1886, s.741.