The city was first founded by Colonists from Sinope and Miletus during the 8th century BC, originally called Trapezus (derived from the ancient Greek word for table) and situated above the harbour. It prospered under the Romans and Byzantines, mainly in the shipping trade, and as a branch of the Silk Road.When the Fourth Crusaders seized Constantinople in 1204, the imperial family from Comnenus established an empire along the Black Sea Coast and Alexius set up the Empire of Trebizond. This was a golden era for the city, was 13th and 14th centuries, that it saw the successful reign of Alexius II who created great wealth, trade and culture, making Trebizond something of an artistic icon to rival the great Italian Renaissance. His reign ended after a destructive civil war in 1341, and over a century later Mehmet the Conqueror brought the city under Ottoman rule and revived the port as a trading centre. The city was then conquered by in 1461 by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and while Selim the Grim was the Prince, Suleyman the Magnificent was born here and came to power in 1520. During the late Ottoman period, the city had a great Christian influence in terms of culture, and a wealthy merchant class who created several Western consulates. The city is still a busy trading centre, more so after the collapse of the USSR, although the shipping industry fell into decline after the rail route between Ankara and Erzurum, and the road to Iran.