This article is about the city. For the Province, see Samsun Province.
Not to be confused with Samson, Sanson, Sampson, or Samsung.
Metropolitan municipality

In order: Artificial lake near Liberation wharf, Statue of Honor in Belediye Park, Istiklal Street, bottom: View of SS Bandırma museum ship, Samsun tram, wall of covered market.

Location of Samsun within Turkey

Coordinates: 41°17′N 36°20′E / 41.283°N 36.333°E / 41.283; 36.333
Country  Turkey
Region Black Sea
Province Samsun
  Mayor Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz (AKP)
  Metropolitan municipality 1,055 km2 (407 sq mi)
Elevation 4 m (13 ft)
Population (2013)
  Density 573/km2 (1,480/sq mi)
  Urban 605,319
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 55
Area code(s) (+90) 362
Licence plate 55
Climate Cfa

Samsun is a city with a population over half a million people on the north coast of Turkey. It is the provincial capital of Samsun Province and a major Black Sea port. The growing city has two universities, several hospitals, shopping malls, a lot of light manufacturing industry, sports facilities and an opera.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk began the Turkish War of Independence here in 1919.


The present name of the city may come from its former Greek name of Amisos (Αμισός) by a reinterpretation of Eis Amison (meaning to Amisos) + ounta (Greek suffix for place names) to Eis Sampsunda (Σαμψούντα) and then Samsun[1] (pronounced [sɑmsun]).

The early Greek historian Hecataeus wrote that Amisos was formerly called Enete, the place mentioned in Homer's Iliad. It has also been known as Peiraieos by Athenian settlers and even briefly as Pompeiopolis by a Roman statesman who wanted it named after him.[2]

The city was called Simisso by the Genoese and during the Ottoman Empire the present name was written in Ottoman Turkish: صامسون (Samsoon).


Ancient history

Parts of goose-headed and camel-headed Phrygian pottery vessels
People from Samsun. National costumes in Ottoman era, 1910's

Paleolithic artifacts found in the Tekkeköy Caves can be seen in Samsun Archaeology Museum.

The earliest layer excavated of the höyük of Dündartepe revealed a Chalcolithic settlement. Early Bronze Age and Hittite settlements were also found there[3] and at Tekkeköy.

Samsun (then known as Amisos, alternative spelling Amisus) was settled between the years of 760–750 BC by people from Miletus,[4] who established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. The city's ideal combination of fertile ground and shallow waters attracted numerous traders.[5]

Around the time Amisus was settled by the Milesians in the 6th century BCE,[6] it is believed that there was significant Greek activity along the coast of the Black Sea, although the archaeological evidence for this is very fragmentary.[7] The only archaeological evidence we have as early as the 6th century is a fragment of wild goat style Greek pottery, in the Louvre.[8]

The city was captured by the Persians in 550BC and became part of Cappadocia (satrapy).[2] In the 5th century BC, Amisus became a free state and one of the members of the Delian League led by the Athenians; [9] it was then renamed Peiraeus under Pericles.[10] In the 4th century BC the city came under the control of the Kingdom of Pontus. The Amisos treasure may have belonged to one of the kings. Tumuli, containing tombs dated between 300BC and 30BC, can be seen at Amisos Hill but unfortunately Toraman Tepe was mostly flattened during construction of the 20th century radar base.[11]

The Romans took over in 71 BC[12] and Amisos became part of Bithynia et Pontus province. Around 46 BC, during the reign of Julius Caesar, Amisus became the capital of Roman Pontus.[6] From the period of the Second Triumvirate up to Nero, Pontus was ruled by several client kings, as well as one client queen, Pythodorida of Pontus, a granddaughter of Marcus Antonius. From 62 CE it was directly ruled by Roman governors, most famously by Trajan's appointee Pliny. Pliny the Younger's address to the Emperor Trajan in the 1st century CE "By your indulgence, sir, they have the benefit of their own laws," is interpreted by John Boyle Orrery to indicate that the freedoms won for those in Pontus by the Romans was not pure freedom and depended on the generosity of the Roman emperor.[13]Around 46 BC, during the reign of Julius Caesar, Amisus became the capital of Roman Pontus.[6] From the period of the Second Triumvirate up to Nero, Pontus was ruled by several client kings, as well as one client queen, Pythodorida of Pontus, a granddaughter of Marcus Antonius. From 62 CE it was directly ruled by Roman governors, most famously by Trajan's appointee Pliny. Pliny the Younger's address to the Emperor Trajan in the 1st century CE "By your indulgence, sir, they have the benefit of their own laws," is interpreted by John Boyle Orrery to indicate that the freedoms won for those in Pontus by the Romans was not pure freedom and depended on the generosity of the Roman emperor.[13]

The estimated population of the city around 150 CE is between 20,000-25,000 people, classifying it as a relatively large city for that time.[14] The city functioned as the commercial capital for the province of Pontus; beating its rival Sinope (now Sinop) due to its position at the head of the trans-Anatolia highway [9]

In Late Antiquity, the city became part of the Dioecesis Pontica within the eastern Roman Empire; later still it was part of the Armeniac Theme.[15] Samsun Castle was built on the seaside in 1192, it was demolished between 1909 and 1918.

Early Christianity

Though the roots of the city are Hellenistic,[6] it was also one of the centers of an early Christian congregation.[6] Its function as a commercial metropolis in northern Asia Minor was a contributing factor to enable the spread of Christian influence. As a large port city –the commercial capital of Pontus [16] - travel to and from Christian hotbeds like Jerusalem was not uncommon.[17] According to Josephus, there was large Jewish diaspora in Asia Minor,.[18] Given that the early evangelist Christians focused on Jewish diaspora communities, and that the Jewish diaspora in Amisus was a geographically accessible group with a mixed heritage group, it is not surprising that Amisus would be an appealing site for evangelist work. The author of 1 Peter 1:1 addresses the Jewish diaspora of the province of Pontus, along with four other provinces: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” (Peter 1:1) As Amisus would have been the largest commercial port-city in the province, it is believed certain that the spread of Christianity in the region would have begun there.[18] In the 1st century Pliny the Younger documents accounts of Christians in and around the cities of Pontus.[19] His accounts center on his conflicts with the Christians when he served under the Emperor Trajan and describe early Christian communities, his condemnation of their refusal to renounce their religion, but also describes his tolerance for some Christian practices like Christian charitable societies.[20] Many great early Christian figures had connections to Amisus, including Caesarea Mazaca, Gregory the Illuminator (raised as a Christian from 257 CE when he was brought to Amisus) and Basil the Great (Bishop of the city 330-379 CE).[21]

Christian bishops of Amisus include Antonius, who took part in the Council of Chalcedon in 451; Erythraeus, a signatory of the letter that the bishops of Helenopontus wrote to Emperor Leo I the Thracian after the killing of Patriarch Proterius of Alexandria; the late 6th-century bishop Florus, venerated as a saint in the Greek menologion; and Tiberius, who attended the Third Council of Constantinople (680), Leo, the Second Council of Nicaea (787), and Basilius, the Council of Constantinople of 879. The diocese is no longer mentioned in the Greek Notitiae Episcopatuum after the 15th century and thereafter the city was considered part of the see of Amasea. However, some Greek bishops of the 18th and 19th centuries bore the title of Amisus as titular bishops.[22] In the 13th century the Franciscans had a convent at Amisus, which became a Latin bishopric some time before 1345, when its bishop Paulus was transferred to the recently conquered city of Smyrna and was replaced by the Dominican Benedict, who was followed by an Italian Armenian called Thomas.[23] No longer a residential diocese, it is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[24]

Medieval and modern history

Samsun was part of the Seljuk Empire[25] and Sultanate of Rum and the Empire of Trebizond and was one of the Genoese colonies. After the breakup of the Seljuk Empire into small principalities (beyliks) in the late 13th century, the city was ruled by one of them, the Isfendiyarids. It was captured from the Isfendiyarids at the end of the 14th century by the rival Ottoman beylik (later the Ottoman Empire) under sultan Bayezid I, but was lost again shortly afterwards.

The Ottomans permanently conquered the town in 1420, and it became part of the Sanjak of Canik (Turkish: Canik Sancağı), which was at first part of the Rûm Eyalet.

In the later Ottoman period, the land around the town mainly produced tobacco, with its own type being grown in Samsun, the Samsun-Bafra, which the British described as having "small but very aromatic leaves", and commanding a "high price."[26] The town was connected to the railway system in the second half of the 19th century, and tobacco trade boomed. There was a British consulate in the town from 1837 to 1863.[27]

Samsun, then home to an Armenian community numbering over 5,000, was heavily affected during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. According to local eyewitnesses, such as Hafiz Mehmet, many of the Samsun Armenians were drowned in the Black Sea.[28] Others were deported from Samsun and ultimately massacred in provinces further south. After the Armenian Genocide, there remained eleven islamicized Armenians and two Armenian physicians. Armenian orphans who had survived were given to Turkish families.[29]

Replica of the cargo ship SS Bandırma, which carried Atatürk from Istanbul and arrived in Samsun on May 19, 1919, the date which traditionally marks the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the Turkish liberation movement against the Allies in Samsun on May 19, 1919, the date which traditionally marks the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence. Atatürk, appointed by the Ottoman government as Inspector of the Ninth Army Troops Inspectorate of the Empire in eastern Anatolia, left Constantinople aboard the now-famous SS Bandırma May 16 for Samsun. Instead of obeying the orders of the Ottoman government, then under the control of the occupying Allies, he and a number of colleagues declared the beginning of the liberation movement. Later in the War of Independence, the city was bombarded by the Greek Navy.

By 1920, Samsun's population totaled about 36,000.[30]


During the Tanzimat some people were exiled from the Balkans [31] and in the mid-19th century Circassians expelled from the other side of the Black Sea.[32] However the grandparents of many of the present inhabitants migrated to Samsun from further east on the Black Sea. In the 21st century some foreigners arrived, some for the universities and some as refugees (there are more Iraqis than Syrians).Overwhelming majority of people are Muslims.


The council has various service units.[33] There is a 2010 to 2014 strategic plan.[34] Samsun has a budget deficit of TL 323 million.[35]


Kızılırmak, an important Wetland in the Black Sea area of Turkey

Samsun is a long city which extends along the coast between two river deltas which jut into the Black Sea. It is located at the end of an ancient route from Cappadocia: the Amisos of antiquity lay on the headland northwest of the modern city center.

The city is growing fast: land has been reclaimed from the sea and many more apartment blocks and shopping malls are currently being built. Industry is tending to move (or be moved) east, further away from the city center and towards the airport.


To Samsun's west, lies the Kızılırmak ("Red River", the Halys of antiquity), one of the longest rivers in Anatolia and its fertile delta. To the east, lie the Yeşilırmak ("Green River", the Iris of antiquity) and its delta. The River Mert reaches the sea at the city.


Samsun has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cfa), like most of the eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey.[36]

Spring temperatures can vary by over 10 degrees from one day to the next. Summers are warm and humid, and the average maximum temperature is around 27 °C (81 °F) in August. Winters are cool and damp, and the lowest average minimum temperature is around 3 °C (37 °F) in January.

Precipitation is heaviest in late autumn and early winter. Snow sometimes occurs between the months of December and March, but never more than a few centimeters of snow falls in the city, and temperatures below the freezing point rarely last more than a couple of days.

The water temperature, as in the whole Turkish Black Sea coast, is always cool, fluctuating between 8–20 °C (46–68 °F) throughout the year.

Climate data for Samsun
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.2
Average high °C (°F) 10.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 7.2
Average low °C (°F) 4.2
Record low °C (°F) −8.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 68.1
Average rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 13.5 13.5 15.4 14.2 12.7 9.4 5.8 6.3 9.9 12.2 12.0 12.9 137.8
Average relative humidity (%) 68 72 77 80 82 78 74 74 75 72 71 69 74.3
Mean monthly sunshine hours 77.5 90.4 102.3 129.0 192.2 246.0 263.5 254.2 186.0 136.4 102.0 74.4 1,853.9
Percent possible sunshine 26.3 30.3 27.7 32.3 42.8 54.2 57.2 59.4 49.7 39.6 34.5 26.1 40.01




AnsaldoBreda Sirio in Samsun

Long distance buses the bus station is outside the city centre, but most bus companies provide a free transfer there if you have a ticket. Passenger and freight trains run to Sivas via Amasya. The train station is in the city center. Freight trains are taken by ferry to railways at Kavkaz in Russia, and will later see service to the port of Varna in Bulgaria and Poti in Georgia.[38]

Modern trams run between the train station and Ondokuz Mayıs University. There is a plan to run electrically powered bus rapid transit between the railway station and Tekkekoy. City buses carry passengers actively.Dolmuş, the routes are numbered 1 to 4 and each route has different color minibuses. The 320 m (1,050 ft) long Samsun Amisos Hill Gondola serves from Batıpark the archaeological area on the Amisos Hill, where ancient tombs in tumuli were discovered.

Samsun-Çarşamba Airport is 23 km (14 mi) east of the city center. It is possible to reach the airport by Havas service buses: they depart from the coach park close to Kultur Sarayi in the city center. [39] Horse-drawn carriages, (Turkish:fayton) run along the seafront. There was automated bike rental along the seafront, but it is not currently operational.


Hospital of Ondokuz Mayıs University's Faculty of Medicine in Samsun.

Samsun has a mixed economy [40] with a cluster of medical industries.[41]

Ports and shipbuilding

Former Ottoman Bank branch in Samsun.

Samsun is a port city. In the early 20th century, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey funded the building of a harbor. Before the building of the harbor, ships had to anchor to deliver goods, approximately 1 mile or more from shore. Trade and transportation was focused around a road to and from Sivas.[30] The privately operated port fronting the city centre handles freight, including RORO ferries to Novorossiysk, whereas fishing boats land their catches in a separate harbour slightly further east. A ship building yard is under construction at the eastern city limit. Road and rail freight connections with central Anatolia can be used to send inland both the agricultural produce of the surrounding well rained upon and fertile land, and also imports from overseas.

Manufacturing and Food Processing

There is a light industrial zone between the city and the airport. The main manufactured products are medical devices and products, furniture (wood is imported across the Black Sea), tobacco products (although tobacco farming is now limited by the government), chemicals and automobile spare parts.

Flour mills import wheat from Ukraine and export some of the flour.

Local government and services

Provincial government and services (e.g. courts, prisons and hospitals) support the surrounding region. Agricultural research establishments support provincial agriculture and food processing.


Samsun Piazza Mall

Most of the many new shopping malls are purpose built, but the former tobacco factory in the city center has been converted into a mall.


The Atatürk Culture Center

Atatürk Kültür Sarayı (AKM - Palace of Culture). Concerts and other performances are held at the Kultur Sarayi, which is shaped much like a ski jump. "Samsun State Opera and Ballet" performs in The Atatürk Culture Center. Founded in 2009 it is one of the six state opera houses in Turkey. The Samsun Opera have performed Die Entführung (W. A. Mozart) in the annual Istanbul Opera Festival. In collaboration with The Pekin Opera, The Samsun Opera performed Puccini's Madama Butterfly in the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival in 2012. Other performances include La bohème, La traviata, Don Quijote, Giselle. The current musical director is Lorenzo Castriota Skanderbeg.


Gazi Museum

Folk Dancing

There is an annual international festival.[42]


There are two universities in Samsun: the state run Ondokuz Mayıs University and the private sector Canik Başarı University. There is also a police training college [43] and many small private colleges.


There is a local newspaper called Haber Gazetesi and a local TV channel.


There are many public and private hospitals.

Parks, Nature Reserves and other greenspace

Statue of Atatürk by the Austrian sculptor Heinrich Krippel in Samsun's city center.


Nature Reserves

Other greenspace

As of 2015 there are 3 army barracks in the city (Esentepe Kışlası, Gökberk Kışlası and 19 Mayis Kışlası) with substantial greenspace. Should they become surplus to military requirements in future, for example due to reduced conscription, it is currently unclear what would happen to the greenspace.


In ancient Roman times gladiator sword fighting[46] apparently took place in Amisos, as depicted on a tombstone dating from the 2nd or 3rd century CE.

Tekkeköy Yaşar Doğu Arena opened in 2013.

Football is the most popular sport: in the older districts above the city center children often kick balls around in the evenings in the smallest streets. The city's football club is Samsunspor, which plays its games at the Samsun 19 Mayıs Stadium.

Basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, cable skiing (in summer), horse riding, go karting, paintballing, martial arts and many other sports are played. Cycling and jogging are only common along the sea front, where recreational fishing is also popular.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Sister city of Samsun.

Samsun is twinned with:

Notable people

See also


  1. Özhan Öztürk. Karadeniz: Ansiklopedik Sözlük (Blacksea: Encyclopedic Dictionary). 2 Cilt (2 Volumes). Heyamola Publishing. Istanbul.2005 ISBN 975-6121-00-9
  2. 1 2 "Samsun Guide" (PDF).
  3. "..:: REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM ::..". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  4. "..:: REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM ::..". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  5. {Cohen, Getzel M. (1995). “The Hellenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands, and Asia Minor.” Berkely and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. p. 384.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Wilson, M. W. "Cities of God in Northern Asia Minor: Using Stark's Social Theories to Reconstruct Peter's Communities". Verbum et Ecclesia 32 (1). p. 3.
  7. Topalidis, S. "Formation of the First Greek Settlements in the Pontos". Pontos World. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  8. Tsetskhladze, G.R. (1998 ) “The Greek Colonisation of the Black Sea Area: Historical Interpretation of Archaeology.” Stuttgart: F. Steiner. p. 19.; Louvre page
  9. 1 2 Wilson, M. W. "Cities of God in Northern Asia Minor: Using Stark's Social Theories to Reconstruct Peter's Communities". Verbum et Ecclesia 32 (1). p. 4.
  10. Jones, A.H.M (1937). “The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces”. Oxford: The Carendon Press. p. 149.
  12. "Antik Amisos Kenti".
  13. 1 2 Orrery, J. B. (1752). “The Letters of Pliny the Younger: With Observations on Each Letter; and an Essay on Pliny's Life, Addressed to Charles Lord Boyle.” The 3rd ed. London: Printed by James Bettenham, for Paul Vaillant. p. 407.
  14. Mitchell, S. (1995). “Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor.” Journal of Roman Studies, 85. p. 301-302.
  16. Society For The Promotion Of Hellenic Studies. (2013). “Roads to Pontus, Royal and Roman.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies (Vol. 21). London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published pre-1945, year unknown) p. 105-6.
  17. Wilson, M. W. "Cities of God in Northern Asia Minor: Using Stark's Social Theories to Reconstruct Peter's Communities". Verbum et Ecclesia 32 (1). p. 2.
  18. 1 2 Schalit, A. "Asia Minor." Encyclopedia Judaica. Accessed March 11, 2015.
  19. "Pliny and Trajan on the Christians." Pliny and Trajan on the Christians. Accessed April 7, 2015.
  20. Alikin, V. A. (2010). ‘Chapter 7.’ In “The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering Origin, Development and Content of the Christian Gathering in the First to Third Centuries.” Leiden: Brill. p. 270.
  21. Wilson, M. W. "Cities of God in Northern Asia Minor: Using Stark's Social Theories to Reconstruct Peter's Communities". Verbum et Ecclesia 32 (1). p. 7.
  22. Siméon Vailhé, v. Amisus, in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. XII, Paris 1953, coll. 1289-1290]
  23. Jean Richard, La Papauté et les missions d'Orient au Moyen Age (XIII-XV siècles), École Française de Rome, 1977, pp. 170–171 and 235-236
  24. Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 831
  25. "File:Anatolia 1097 it.svg". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  26. Prothero, W.G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 61.
  27. "Foreign Office: Consulate, Samsun, Ottoman Empire: Entry Books and Registers of Correspondence".
  28. Kieser, Hans-Lukas (2006). Turkey Beyond Nationalism Towards Post-Nationalist Identities. London: I.B. Tauris & Co. p. 111. ISBN 085771757X.
  29. Kevorkian, Raymond (2011). The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History. I.B.Tauris. pp. 487–91. ISBN 0857730207.
  30. 1 2 Prothero, W.G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 54.
  31. "The Exiles from Balkans to Black Sea Coast After the Tanzimat".
  32. "Report to the Board of Health of the Ottoman Empire, Samsun, May 20, 1864".
  35. "İstanbul, Ankara contribute 60 pct of tax revenue in Q1". TodaysZaman. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  36. "Climate: Samsun - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". 31 August 2013.
  37. "Samsun". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  38. "Samsun-Kavkaz ferry line to link Turkey with Russia, Central Asia".
  39. "Samsun". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  40. "..:: REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM ::..". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  41. "2023 Export Target 5 Billion Dollars".
  43. "Police college website (Turkish)".
  44. Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. Banknote Museum: 7. Emission Group - One Hundred Thousand Turkish Lira - I. Series, II. Series & III. Series. – Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  46. "Tombstone for the gladiator Diodorus".
  47. "Samsun - Twin Towns". © Retrieved 2013-10-19.

Coordinates: 41°17′25″N 36°20′01″E / 41.29028°N 36.33361°E / 41.29028; 36.33361

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