Last updated: 8 april, 2010 - 16:10 GMT


Return to Trebizond

To play this content JavaScript must be turned on and the latest Flash player installed.

Play in either Real OR Windows Media players

The founding of modern Greece and Turkey in 1923 with the Lausanne treaty came with a huge exchange of populations on religious grounds.

Hundreds of thousands of Christian Pontic Greeks left the city of Trebizond on the Black Sea and the surrounding area and half a million greek Muslims moved in.

After years of political division, the descendents of those dissipated communities are beginning to come together to celebrate their shared heritage in music and song.

Greek Orthodox Christians with roots in Trebizond come from all over the world to celebrate the feast of the Virgin Mary. Muslims come to the festival, too, as do Russians of greek descent. All three nations converge at this cultural crossroads. In particular at the monastery of Soumela up in the mountains.

But is this a story all about the region's future harmony, or do remnants of resentment still remain?

Presenter Tom de Waal traces the history of this ancient port and explores the region's modern politics.

Return to Trebizond

  • A man by the Black Sea with the modern city of Trabzon in the background
    The fabled city of Trebizond - trading post on the old spice route to India - is now a collection of modern tower-blocks with a motorway separating town from sea.
  • Monastery of Soumela
    Clinging to a mountainside at the top of a valley, is the ancient Monastery of Soumela - where every year on 15 of August - Greeks from all over the world congregate.
  • Woman with a meadow on her back
    The hills surrounding the monastery have been fertile grazing areas for livestock for thousands of years and the people here still farm in the traditional manner.
  • Procession up the mountain
    People from Russia, America, Australia, Turkey, Greece and elsewhere proceed up the mountain path leading to the Soumela Monastery - at the beginning of a day of celebration for the feast of the Virgin Mary.
  • A woman touches an icon
    A replica of the icon of the Virgin that used to be kept in the monastery has been brought from Greece by Orthodox priests for the feast of the Virgin Mary celebrations.
  • Tom de Waal and producer Neil Trevithick talking to Sotiria  Liliopoulos Yeyenis Saiyneedes
    Sotiria Liliopoulos Yeyenis Saiyneedes has come all the way from Australia to celebrate the feast of the Virgin Mary.

All photographs are by click Eleftherios Kostansof Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, USA. His photographs document a culture in transition and show how it has survived across three continents, regardless of borders and faith.

First broadcast on 9 April 2010



More From This Series

Documentary Archive

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.