Originally known as Hakmış under the Hittites, the Amasya area has been inhabited continuously since around 5500 BC. The city was
conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, then became the capital of a successor kingdom ruled by a family of Persian satraps (provincial governors). By the time of King Mithridates II (281 BC), the Kingdom of Pontus was entering its golden age and dominated a large part of Anatolia
During the latter part of Pontus’ flowering, Amasya was the birthplace of Strabo (c 63 BC to AD 25), the world’s first geographer. Perhaps feeling restricted by the surrounding mountains, Strabo left home to travel in Europe, west Asia and north Africa, writing
47 history and 17 geography books as a result of his journeys. Though most of his history books have been lost, we know something of
their content because many other classical writers chose to quote him.
Amasya’s golden age ended when the Romans decided to take control of Anatolia (47 BC); it was supposedly the conquest of Amasya that prompted Julius Caesar’s immortal words Veni, vidi, vici – ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’. After Rome came the Byzantines, the Seljuks (1075), the Mongols (mid-13th century) and the notional republic of Abazhistan. In Ottoman times, Amasya
was an important military base and testing ground for the sultans’ heirs; it also became a centre of Islamic study, with as many as 18 medreses and 2000 theological students by the 19th century.
After WWI, Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) escaped occupied İstanbul and came to Amasya, where he secretly met with friends on 12 June 1919 and hammered out the basic principles of the Turkish struggle for inde- pendence. The monument in the main square commemorates the meeting and depicts the unhappy state of Anatolian Turks before the revolution. Each year, Amasyalıs commemo- rate the meeting with a week-long art and culture festival.