The hinterland of the port-city
Author: İMAMOĞLU HUSEYIN VEHBI
The port of Trabzon was one of the central points of the Black Sea trade of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire assigned policies to control Black Sea trade and tried to turn Black Sea into an inland sea from the 15th to the 18th century. Policies were developed to adapt to economic situations that changed from time to time and commercial privileges of various kinds were provided. However, the wide hinterland of the port of Trabzon and its advantageous position as an outlet of the Eurasian trade, enabled the area to keep the monopoly in Black Sea commerce. In this sense, it was desired for the Black Sea to be closed to international commerce. Commerce which developed in line with the port of Trabzon developed in the form of inland sea commerce for a long time . However, the rise of the Russian Empire and its expansion to the northern Black Sea coast in the last third of the 18th century changed the course of Black Sea commerce. On the other hand, the attacks of Kazakh and Abkhasian pirates did a great damage on sea trade during the past centuries. .
Following the 1774 treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, the port of Trabzon partly entered an unproductive period. After the commercial privileges Russia gained, Austria in 1784 and France and England in 1802 gained similar rights. Although the port of Trabzon was not immediately influenced by these treaties, freedom of French and English commercial ships damaged the competitiveness of the port of Trabzon .
The port of Trabzon was remarkable for its international trade, is imports and exports that were carried out in the Black Sea Region for the Ottoman Empire . The fact that land transport was long, difficult and costly brought the hinterland of the port of Trabzon to the forefront. In commercial life, Christian Turks living in the area played an important role in the area. Other traders and commercial agents were Khazar, Bulgarian and Patzinak Turks along with Ottoman Greeks and Armenians and foreign tradesmen who came to the area. In commerce which developed between the North and South of the Black Sea, exported goods were silk, cotton and hemp fabric, while imported goods were agricultural and animal products from the North, which were further directed to İstanbul .
Of the Black Sea port cities, Trabzon was the most important export gateway of the the Silk road trade with goods from Iran forwarded to Europe on board ships. At the same time, Trabzon was also the exit of commerce coming from Eastern Anatolia to be forwarded by way of sea to Europe and İstanbul. In this sense, it was the most important export port between European countries and Iran and Caucasus . The route in the direction of east-west and North-south in Anatolia combined at the port of Trabzon with roads coming from Azerbaijan. In this trade, silk was a basic raw material and the silk coming from Armenia and Azerbaijan and Iran entered the Ottoman Empire by using Erzurum-Trabzon line. While the historical Silk road kept the social and economic life of the city alive, it also caused competition between the Russia, and the Ottoman State . While the fight between Ottoman State and Russia was effective in Black Sea in general, the opening of the Suez Canal, the construction of a port in Batumi by the Russians after 1878 and the opening of Iran-Georgia railroad partly decreased the significance of the port of Trabzon and contracted the city’s hinterland. However, Trabzon remained a cosmopolitan city with 9 different foreign consulates in Trabzon shows the hinterland of Trabzon port .
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