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Sinop


Organization and administration of Port Authorities    EN

Author: DENİZ ONDER

The port of Sinop due to its geostrategic site, has had military and commercial significance throughout its history. The port had both military and commercial features and as it was encircled by castle walls it made it more protected than other ports. The port of Sinop was the safest anchorage of the whole southern Black Sea coast until it was raided during the Crimean war by the Russian Navy in 1853 when the Ottoman Navy was stationed there. Since this was a natural port, it has been a common safe haven for seafarers who wished to get away from the wild waves of the Black Sea, and it is continuing to be so[1]. Furthermore, the Ottoman Empire attached special significance to the port of Sinop due to its proximity to Anatolian and Euro-Asian trading routes. As the port had military, commercial and manufacturing facilities, it enabled individuals of many different occupations to work at the port[2]. The port infrastructure, however remained in the 19th century quite backward, as it was in the 18th century, and it did not develop substantially due to the situation of the Ottoman Empire and its policy that did not attach significance to shipping and port infrastructure[3]. Moreover, Canik and Küre Mountains, that lie parallel to the Black Sea coast geographically, produced a barrier to land transportation and hindered the further commercial development of the port. Nevertheless, the port remained one of the safest and most important ports of the southern Black Sea coast.

The port of Sinop has a lot of advantages compared to the other ports of the area. Despite its backward infrastructure, its advantageous geographic location has enabled it to be used for many different aims and quite efficiently compared to the other ports. Especially before the 20th century when steamships were not widespread, the port of Sinop has been quite important for the Ottoman Empire as a port of call for the major western European and Ottoman steamship lines that sailed in the Black Sea[4]. Furthermore the tense relations between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire transformed the port of Sinop of prime geostrategic importance. All through its history, the commercial side of the port of Sinop interwined with its military and strategic significance. The ships built in the shipyard were involved in significant commercial and naval tasks on the Black Sea. They have many a time carried cargos and sometimes participated in wars that determined the fate of the Ottoman Empire. The port has had a particular importance in history from every aspect[5].

The Port of Sinop has also another feature that cannot be seen in any of the ports in the world. One of the important prisons of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey was located within the port of Sinop. This prison has been used until the end of the 20th century and has been identified with the city. Several intellectuals and artists have been imprisoned there.

Although the maritime trade activities have shifted to the ports of Samsun and Trabzon to a great extent during the 19th century, the strategic significance of the port of Sinop has remained. With its convenient infrastructure and safe anchorage for merchant ships, military ships and fishing vessels, the port of Sinop has been preferred by seamen. Seamen have a saying in the area: “There are three ports in the Black Sea; these are July, August and Sinop”; the port of Sinop is the only natural port in the southern coast of the Black Sea. During the 20th century the port lost its military and commercial importance, and today is used only as a fishing port and for tourism.

The port of Sinop has not been like ports of industrial cities. It has shared the common destiny of the ports in the Ottoman Empire which could not go through the industrialisation and modernization processes. The main reason was that the port did not have connections to different cities of Anatolia through large highway networks. Railway access that has been built to connect almost all industrialized ports in the 19th century did not exist in the port of Sinop. In this way, neither large quantities of cargoes or waves of immigrants from and to the various coasts of the Black Sea were moved though Sinop. Its commercial importance was diminished to a fishing port.

 


[1] Mehmet Ali Ünal, “Material procuration for Canik Sanjak for Sinop Dockyard in the 16th century”, Symposium of Samsun from the Past to the Future, 2006, p.232.

[2] Polat, M.Sait, Social and Economic Life of Seljuk in Turkey until the Mongolian Raid, Marmara University, Institute of Social Studies, Turkic Studies Center, Unpublished Doctorate Dissertation, Istanbul, 1997, p. 17.

[3] Enver Ziya Karal, The Ottoman History: Volume 5, The Periods of the New Order and Reforms (1789-1856), Ankara: TTK Press, p. 63-68.

[4] Yusuf Oğuzoğlu, "20. Yüzyıla Girerken Karadeniz Limanlarının Deniz Ticareti Bakımından İncelenmesi", Sosyal Bilimler Araştırmaları Dergisi, 12, 2015.

[5] Süreyya Eroğlu, , and A. Alev Dirrr Akhan. "Seyahatnameler’de Sinop." Atatürk Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi 17.1 2013, p.p.265.


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