Amasya

Amasya (Greek: Ἀμάσεια) is a city in northern Turkey and is the capital of Amasya Province, in the Black Sea Region. Tokat from east, Tokat and Yozgat from south, Çorum from west, Samsun from north.

The city of Amasya (Turkish pronunciation: [aˈmasja]), the Amaseia or Amasia of antiquity, stands in the mountains above the Black Sea coast, set apart from the rest of Anatolia in a narrow valley along the banks of the Yeşilırmak River. Although near the Black Sea, this area is high above the coast and has an inland climate, well-suited to growing apples, for which Amasya province, one of the provinces in north-central Anatolia Turkey, is famed. It was the home of the geographer Strabo and the birthplace of the 15th century scholar and physician Amirdovlat Amasiatsi. Located in a narrow cleft of the Yeşilırmak (Iris) river, it has a history of 7,500 years which has left many traces still evident today.

In antiquity, Amaseia was a fortified city high on the cliffs above the river. It has a long history as a wealthy provincial capital, producing kings and princes, artists, scientists, poets and thinkers, from the kings of Pontus, through Strabo the geographer, to many generations of the Ottoman imperial dynasty. With its Ottoman-period wooden houses and the tombs of the Pontus kings carved into the cliffs overhead, Amasya is attractive to visitors. In recent years there has been a lot of investment in tourism and more foreign and Turkish tourists visit the city.
During the early Ottoman rule, it was customary for young Ottoman princes to be sent to Amasya to govern and gain experience. Amasya was also the birthplace of the Ottoman sultans Murad I and Selim I. It is thus of great importance in terms of Ottoman history. Traditional Ottoman houses near the Yeşilırmak and the other main historical buildings have been restored; these traditional Yalıboyu houses are now used as cafes, restaurants, pubs and hotels. Behind the Ottoman wooden houses one can see the rock tombs of the Pontic kings.

Antiquity

Archaeological research shows that Amasya was first settled by the Hittites and subsequently by Phrygians, Cimmerians, Lydians, Persians, and Armenians.

Hellenistic period

An independent Pontic kingdom with its capital at Amaseia was established by the Persian Mithridatic dynasty at the end of the 4th century BC, in the wake of Alexander's conquests. In the 1st century BC, it briefly contested Rome's hegemony in Anatolia. By 183 BC, the city was settled by Hellenistic people, eventually becoming the capital of the kings of Pontus from 333 BC to 26 BC. Today, there are prominent ruins including the royal tombs of Pontus in the rocks above the riverbank in the centre of the city. Ancient district in northeastern Anatolia adjoining the Black Sea.

Roman-Byzantine period

Amaseia was captured by the Roman Lucullus in 70 BC from Armenia and was quickly made a free city and administrative center of his new province of Bithynia and Pontus by Pompey. By this time, Amaseia was a thriving city, the home of thinkers, writers and poets, and one of them, Strabo, left a full description of Amaseia as it was between 60 BC and 19 AD. Around 2 or 3 BC, it was incorporated into the Roman province of Galatia, in the district of Pontus Galaticus. Around the year 112, the emperor Trajan designated it a part of the province of Cappadocia. Later in the 2nd century it gained the titles 'metropolis' and 'first city'. After the division of the Roman Empire by emperor Diocletian the city became part of the East Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire). At this time it had a predominantly Greek-speaking population.

Amaseia was also referenced in the first book of the Alexiad. Amaseia was the town where Emperor Alexios I Komnenos received the foreign general Ursel as a captive from the Turkic general Tutach. Ursel had, according to the book, looted and pillaged the Eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire until the at-the-time General Alexios convinced Tutach to capture him. Alexios agreed that he would pay "...such a sum of money as no one ever gained before." to Tutach for the capture of Ursel, however Alexios had no cash to give and the Emperor was unable to fund it, so he attempted to raise money from the people of Amaseia, however this caused serious unrest. However, after a speech by Alexios, he arranged a mock-blinding of Ursel which promptly caused the people to contribute funds. However, this is likely to be biased.

Early Turkish rulers

In 1075, ending 700 years of Byzantine rule, Amasya was conquered by the Turkmen Danishmend emirs. It served as their capital until the annexation of the Danishmendid dominions by the Seljuk ruler Kilij Arslan II.When he died, his realm was divided among his sons, and Amasya passed to Nizam ad-Din Arghun Shah. His rule was brief, as he lost it to his brother Rukn ad-Din Suleiman Shah, who subsequently became Sultan. In the 13th century the city passed under the control of the Mongol Ilkhanate, and was ruled by Mongol governors, except for a brief rule by Taj ad-Din Altintash, son of the last Seljuk sultan, Mesud II.

Under the Seljuks and the Ilkhan, the city became a centre of Islamic culture and produced some notable individuals such as Yaqut al-Musta'simi (1221-1298) calligrapher and secretary of the last Abbasid caliph who was a Greek native of Amasya. Schools, mosques, tombs and other architecture of this period still remain.

In 1341, the emir Habiloghlu occupied the city, before it came under the rule of the Eretnid emirate. Hadji Shadgeldi Pasha took Amasya from the Eretnids under Ali Bey, and successfully fended off the claims of Kadi Burhan al-Din, who had supplanted the Eretnids. Shadgeldi was succeeded by his son Ahmed, who managed to retain his autonomy for a while, with Ottoman assistance; but in 1391/92, the mounting pressure forced him to cede the city to the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I, who installed his son, the future Mehmed I, as its governor.

Ottoman era

After the disastrous Battle of Ankara in 1402, Mehmed I fled to Amasya, which (along with nearby Tokat) became his main residence and stronghold during the Ottoman Interregnum.
As a result, the city enjoyed a special status under the Ottomans.  A number of Ottoman princes were sent to the province of Amasya (the Rûm Eyalet) as governors in their youth, from Mehmed II in the late 14th century to Bayezid II in the 15th, through to Murat III in the 16th. Suleiman the Magnificent often stayed in the city, and even received the Habsburg ambassador Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq there. Already distinguished a cultural centre under the Seljuks, Amasya now "became one of the main seats of learning in Anatolia".

Between 1530 and 1545, several travelers documented a blood libel against some of the town's Jews.[11] After the disappearance of a local Christian, several Jews living in town were blamed for killing him for ritual reasons. The Jews confessed under torture and were hanged. When the supposed victim was discovered to still be alive, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent ordered that all accusations regarding religious rituals should be judged under "royal" and not local court.[11] In 1555, Amasya was also the location for the signing of the Peace of Amasya with the Safavid dynasty of Persia.

The population of Amasya at this time was very different from that of most other cities in the Ottoman Empire, as it was part of their training for the future sultans to learn about every nation of the Empire. Every millet of the Empire was represented in Amasya in a particular village—such as a Greek village, an Armenian village, a Bosnian village, a Tatar village, a Turkish village etc. (see: 1927 Population count data by DİE)

World War I and the Turkish War of Independence

In 1919 Amasya was the location of the final planning meetings held by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk for the building of a Turkish army to establish the Turkish republic following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. It was here that Mustafa Kemal made the announcement of the Turkish War of Independence in the Amasya Circular. This circular is considered as the first written document putting the Turkish War of Independence in motion. The circular, distributed across Anatolia, declared Turkey's independence and integrity to be in danger and called for a national conference to be held in Sivas (Sivas Congress) and before that, for a preparatory congress comprising representatives from the eastern provinces of Anatolia to be held in Erzurum in July (Erzurum Congress).

During the years of World War I and the Turkish War of Independence, the Christian inhabitants of Amasya (Armenian and Greek) suffered from atrocities. Many Armenian civilians fleeing the attacks sought refuge at the American missionary school Anatolia College, located in Merzifon outside Amasya. In 1921, Turkish troops closed down the school, and the local population relocated to Thessaloniki after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Also, in 1921 there was the Amasya trials which were special ad hoc trials, organized by the Turkish National Movement, with the purpose to kill the Greek representatives of Pontus region under a legal pretext.

Ecclesiastical history

Amasea became the seat of a Christian metropolitan bishop in the Eastern Roman Empire, in particular from the 3rd century AD. As capital of the Late Roman province of Helenopontus, it also became its Metropolitan Archbishopric and included the suffragans of Amisus, Andrapa, Euchaitae, Ibora, Sinope, Zaliche and Zela. In the 10th century the metropolis ranked 11th among the metropolises of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. From the 12th century the Christian element was reduced due to the Turkic migrations into Anatolia. The Orthodox metropolis of Amasea was active until the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey (1923) and in 1922 counted c. 40,000 Christians, 20,000 of them being Greek speakers. Last active metropolitan bishop was Germanos Karavangelis.

No longer being a residential diocese, Amasea is today listed by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church as a titular see.

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