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A Black Sea Wonder: Sumela Monastery, Trabzon

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Trabzon, which has hosted dozens of civilizations throughout history, is a very rich city in terms of historical artifacts. So much so that there are 983 cultural assets and 25 archaeological sites in the city. Undoubtedly, the most striking of these historical monuments is the Sumela Monastery, which has become the symbol of Trabzon. Located within the borders of Altındere Village of Maçka District, this imposing structure was built on a steep rock. Here is the history and unknown story of Sumela Monastery, one of the wonders of Trabzon…

Black Monastery Sumela

sumela monastery

Sumela Monastery, also known as “Virgin Mary” among the people, is located at an altitude of 300 meters. The monastery was founded in the name of Virgin Mary. It is known that the word “Sumela” derives from the word “molasses”. “molasses” means black. It is thought that the depiction of the Virgin Mary is black or comes from the Montenegrins as the reason for this name.

Its Current Version Dates Back to the 13th Century

There are many rumors about the Sumela Monastery. However, the most common rumor is; Sumela Monastery was founded by two priests named Sophranios and Barnabas who came here from Athens during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I (375-395). In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian wanted this place to be repaired and the monastery was repaired by General Belisarios. According to what is known, the Sumela Monastery took its present form in the 13th century. Ruled during the Trabzon Komnenos Principality, which was established in 1204, III. During the time of Alexixos, the importance of this place increased. Even here, income was provided by edicts. The monastery continued to be enriched during the reign of Alexios’ son and other princes.

sumela monastery trabzon

It came under Turkish rule, its rights were protected and privileges were given.

After a while, the eastern Black Sea coast came under Turkish rule. However, the Ottoman State protected the rights of the monastery and made concessions. In the 18th century, some walls were decorated with frescoes and many parts were renovated. Large buildings were added in the 19th century. After that, a bright and rich period was experienced and it gained its present magnificent appearance. Again in this period, many travelers visited the monastery and mentioned the monastery in their writings. The monastery was seized during the Russian occupation between 1916 and 1918. However, by 1923 it was completely evacuated.

trabzon sumela monastery

The Structure of the Sumela Monastery

Among the sections of Sumela Monastery are the library, holy spring, student rooms, guest house, kitchen, chapel and bedrock church. The buildings are located on a large area. There is a large aqueduct on the slope where the water comes from. However, some parts of the arch are in ruins today. The monastery is entered by a narrow and long staircase. There are guard rooms right next to the entrance door. From this location, you can go down to the inner courtyard. The influence of Turkish art is also seen in the hearths, cells and cabinets of the rooms of the buildings surrounding the courtyard. The outer and inner walls of the rock church and the adjoining chapel are filled with frescoes. Again in the inner courtyard III. There are frescoes from the Alexios period. The frescoes in the Sumela Monastery contain scenes from the Bible.

trabzon province

Gül Demirci

Hello, I am Gul, I write content for Expat Guide Turkey every day. Don't forget to check it out!

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