Turkey Trabzon 2001.08.07 - 08.09

Sumela Monastery

Greek Orthodox Sumela Monastery is 46km south of the large Black Sea city of Trabzon. Monday through Friday, Afacar Tur in Trabzon shuttles tourists and a guide to Sumela and back for a reasonable price. This seems to be the easiest and cheapest way to visit Sumela Monastery.

Originally built in 385 AD and enlarged in the 6th century, Sumela Monastery clings to a rock cliff face high above an evergreen forest and rushing stream. During WWI when Turkey fought Greece, the priest of Sumela moved to Greece. After being abandoned for 49 years, in 1972, Sumela became a protected monument and restoration work started. Today, restoration continues and is far from complete. Due to construction, none of the monastery's inner rooms are accessible to visitors. Still, it's worth a visit. Student card holders are admitted at half price.

About 4 buses per day depart the İstanbul otogar (bus station) and reach Trabzon 18½ hours later.

For more information on Sumela Monastery, see Tim Spalding's comprehensive website "The Sumela Monastery on the Web" at www.isidore-of-seville.com/sumela/.

Sumela Monastery is positioned high on a rock cliff. This exterior view on the approach is as interesting as the inner section that is open to visitors.

From within the walls of Sumela, a rock stairwell descends into the inner courtyard where assorted frescos partially remain after years of abuse by vandals and vain tourists hoping to immortalize their names.

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