Samsun as a city isn’t very impressive. It’s short on star attractions and there’s not much reason for tourists to visit, but it does have a few points of interest if you find yourself passing through.
A good place to start exploring the city is the wide-open Cumhuriyet Meydanı, Samsun’s main square. It features several modern buildings, a mosque, and a market.
The Gazi Müzesi, chronicling Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the Turkish War of Independence, is on a street behind the square. The building was actually a hotel he stayed in during his four visits to the city between 1919 and 1930. It was gifted to him in 1924 as a home. It’s open 8am to 5pm and closed on Mondays.
North of the square there are just a couple of interesting buildings that caught my eye – the old Banque Imperiale Ottomane building, which now houses a branch of Garanti Bankası, and the Eski Belediye Binası (old municipality building), built in 1911.
The Saat Kulesi (clock tower) sits in the center of a small square. It was built in 1886.
There are only a few mosques of interest. The first is the tiny Kefeli Camii, a short walk south of Cumhuriyet Meydanı. It has two minarets – one tall and one short.
Next is the Büyük Camii. It sits on the site of the old Samsun Kalesi, a Byzantine castle built in 1192 but demolished between 1908 and 1918. Some of the old castle walls are visible near the mosque.
Finally, there’s the Yalı Camii, built in 1312. It used to sit right on the Black Sea, but the land in front of it was reclaimed.
The rest of the streets in the city aren’t very exciting to wander down. It’s just a big city lacking beauty.
I guess one good thing about Samsun is the amount of parkland situated near the waterfront. It gives the city a nice contrast to the ugly port on the Black Sea. There are numerous green spaces I walked through, many which were under construction.
Scattered throughout the parks are monuments, an international trade building, a huge hotel, the archaeology and ethnographic museum (open 8am to 5pm, closed Mondays), and government buildings. A replica of the SS Bandırma which brought Mustafa Kemal Paşa (Atatürk) from Constantinople to Samsun sits in one of the parks. You can even find some beaches.