Today called Sinop, seaport on the southern coast of the Black Sea,
northern Turkey. It lies on an isthmus linking the Boztepe Peninsula to
the mainland and is shut off from the Anatolian Plateau to the south by
high, forest-clad mountains. Because it has the only safe natural
roadstead on the north coast of Asia Minor, Sinope was in antiquity the
foremost port on the coast, with its land approaches barred by a huge
citadel (now in ruins) and its sea side defended by a strong wall. Its
decline was associated with its lack of easy access to the interior and
its rivalry with Inebolu on the west and with Samsun on the east; the
latter has emerged as the largest Turkish port on the Black Sea.
According to legend, Sinope was founded by the Amazons, who named
it after their queen, Sinova. The city's ancient inhabitants ascribed its
foundation to Autolycus, a companion of Hercules. Destroyed by the
wandering Cimmerians, it was refounded toward the end of the 7th
century BC by a colony of Milesians. It ultimately became the most
flourishing Greek settlement on the Euxine (Black) Sea. As a terminus
of the trade routes from Upper Mesopotamia, it commanded much of
the maritime trade of the Pontic region and by the 5th century BC had
established many colonies on the coast and enjoyed naval supremacy
in the Black Sea. In 183 BC it was taken by Pharnaces I and became
the capital of the Pontic kings. Under Mithridates VI the Great, who was
born there (as was the 4th-century-bc founder of the Cynic sect,
Diogenes), it enjoyed a high degree of prosperity and was embellished
with fine buildings, naval arsenals, and well-built harbours. The Roman
Lucius Licinius Lucullus captured the seaport in 70 BC, and the city
was nearly destroyed by fire.
Taken by the Seljuq Turks from the Comneni of Trebizond (modern
Trabzon) in AD 1214, it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in
1458. In November 1853, shortly after the outbreak of the Crimean
War, the Russian navy dramatically attacked Sinop, destroying the
Ottoman fleet and reducing large parts of the city to ashes.
Sinop's extant monuments include a ruined ancient citadel rebuilt
during Byzantine and Seljuq periods, some isolated columns and
inscribed stones built into the old walls and dating from the early Greek
and Roman periods, and the Alâeddin Cami (a mosque), built in 1214.
A 13th-century Alâiye religious school now houses the local museum.
Sinop is linked by road with Samsun and by sea with Istanbul.
The hinterland around Sinop is drained by the Gök River and is
mountainous and partly forested. Agriculture employs most of the
labour force. Corn (maize), flax, and tobacco are grown in the valleys
and on the fertile coastal strip. Pop. (1985) city, 23,148.