The Sumela Monastery hangs precariously on a steep cliff an hour north of Trabazon, Turkey. Founded in 386, the monastery, like everything in Turkey, has a long and complicated history. Built by Greek monks who found an icon of the Virgin Mary in a nearby cave, the monastery has fallen into run several times over it’s history. As you can probably guess, relations between Turkish Sulans and the Greek Orthodox Church haven’t always been the greatest. For a long time the monastery functioned under a special pass from the Sultan. Early in the 20th Century, the region was occupied by the Russians, who seized the monastery. Population exchanges between Turkey and Greece in the 1920s resulted in forced abandonment of the site.
Today the monastery still holds an important place in the Greek Orthodox Church. In 2010 the first divine liturgy in decades was held on site, an indication of the warming relations between Turkey and Greece.
As you can imagine, the place has a gorgeous view into the valley, and tucked away in a ravine, it’s the perfect place for a picnic lunch. Of course we had a little fun with the frescoes…
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