It about three years ago when we found ourselves traveling through Turkey during Ramadan. Turkey itself is a wonderful place to travel but what we found difficult was that as we headed further east, to the more religious parts of the country, we encountered the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. During the holiday, Muslims traditionally don’t eat during the day and instead pig out at night. Trying to be sensitive, and challenged by what food options were available to us, we tried to do the same which left us hungry during the day and awake at night as our busses made frequent food stops.
This past week we read an article in The Economist detailing how a Byzantine Monastary was being used as a Mosque to celebrate Ramadan. The article took me back to that time on the trip, travlling through that very city during this same very holiday. Although we didn’t visit this specific site, The Hagia Sophia of Trabzon, we were passing through during Ramadan and did visit another Byzantine Monastery, the Sumela Monastery. The site was itself quite beautiful and, as a tourist site, made a nice reprieve for us from the restrictions of traveling during Ramadan. Reading the Economist article I am left to wonder if it may to find a day when its own purpose is changed to another religion. This is something that happens all the time, especially in the Middle East, but I just can’t help to wonder what the future holds for sites such as this.
I intend to offer no opinion regarding the cultural and religious politics of that region of Turkey, but instead just want to offer a few photos from the Sumela Monastary