Cerasus (Greek: Κερασούς or Κερασούντα, Turkish Giresun) is a town in northeastern Turkey with 90,000 inhabitants (2003 estimate) on the Black Sea. It is the capital of Giresun Province. It lies along the Black Sea about 110 miles (175 km) west of Trabzon.
Cerasus and its surrounding region has a rich agriculture, specializing in cherries, hazelnuts and walnuts, as well as hides and timber. It has become an important port since the construction of an artificial harbour in the 1960s.
The English word cherry, French cerise, Spanish cereza and Southern Italian dialect cerasa (standard Italian ciliegia) all come from Classical Greek κέρασος 'cherry', which has been identified with the ancient name of Cerasus. The cherry was first exported to Europe from Cerasus in Roman times. The town was also known as Kerasounta during the Byzantine period and, under that name, was the second city of the Empire of Trebizond.
The older parts of the city lie on a peninsula crowned by a ruined Byzantine fortress, sheltering the small natural harbour. Nearby is Giresun Island, in ancient times called Ares. Cerasus was known to the ancient Greeks as Choerades or Pharnacia. Its history goes back to the 2nd century BC, when it was founded by Greek colonists from Sinope. Old Cerasus lies on a peninsula dominated by a Byzantine fortress. Nearby is Giresun Island, the only major Black Sea island in Turkish territory. According to legend, the island was sacred to the Amazons, who had dedicated a temple to the war god Ares here. Even today, fertility rites are performed here every May, now shrouded as a popular Muslim practice, but really a 4,000 year old celebration.
Prior to 1924 and the compulsory exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, the city had a large Greek population. Many, after the exchange, founded and settled in Nea Kerasounta, Preveza prefecture, Epirus.