Sumela Monastery

Sumela Monastery

Sumela Monastery A Hidden Gem Of Trabzon : In the region of Macka, you will find Trabzon city and the Sumela Monastery. This crazy high monastery is a 1600-year-old ancient Orthodox monastery of the Panaghia located 1200 meters high on a cliff.

The building itself, constructed in the midst of the rocks, combined with its natural setting lends Sümela Monastery a mystical appearance. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful monasteries on earth. According to legend, the current site of the Sümela Monastery was once a church, but two monks named Barnabas of Athens and Sophronios had the same dream, which persuaded the Greek Emperor of Trabzon, Alexios III to build the monastery. It is believed that before the monastery was built, the church had been there for a century.

In their dreams, the two monks foresaw that the most famous Virgin Mary painting by Apostle Luke, which had been lost for many years, was to be found. According to the clues in their dreams, they went to the place where the Sümela Monastery is now located. The Sümela Monastery is in the province of Trabzon in the district of Maçka, and its name came from its location where was previously known as Mela Mountain. In Greek “Stou mela” means “on Mela”. The present name of the monastery originally came from the Greek dialect as “Sou-mela” (Sümela). It is believed that the monastery was built between AD 365-395. As the reason for constructing the monastery was the icon of the Virgin Mary, so the monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is also known locally as the “Monastery of the Virgin Mary”. Throughout the centuries, the Sümela Monastery has been influenced by many different civilisations. During the time of the Eastern Roman Emperor, it was used as a place for education and coronation ceremonies. During the date of the Ottoman Empire, the monastery also played a significant role. To show respect to the Monastery, the Ottoman sultans bestowed a variety of gifts on the monastery over many years. Sultan Selim I gave a gift of two large candlesticks and is known to be amongst those who undertook restoration work. In 1923, the monastery was no longer liveable, and the monks had abandoned it. In 2010, 88 years later, for the first time, with the approval of the Turkish Government, a ceremony was organised for the day of the “Ascension of the Virgin Mary” officiated by the Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch. The Sümela Monastery was built on the top of rocks atop of a hill on the banks of the Panagia river, 1,150 metres above sea level. Considered from the perspective of its natural surroundings it is in an extremely challenging area. The architecture of the monastery resembles that of the churches of Cappadocia.

The cave church which is located at the center of the monastery actually has the appearance of a natural cave. Its eastern section was closed through additions of a wall and a chapel, both of which are covered by murals. These murals had been renewed during different periods, and they depict various subjects such as the creation of the earth, scenes from lives of Jesus and Mary, prophets mentioned in the Old Testament, and of various saints, and many others. The majority of the chapels are located at the northern section, and all of them are single naved. Many of these chapels are covered by murals, which are mostly dated back to 18th and 19th Centuries. At some places three different periods can be observed together. The oldest of these murals is dated back to 14th century, located at the Hidden Chapel.

The library which had been situated to the east of the entrance of the monastery and the bell tower which had been to the east of the cave church could not survive to date. Rare manuscripts of the library known to be quite rich in content are under protection at the Hagia…

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