Turkey’s Majestic Sumela Monastery Reopens For Prayers After Being Restored

The UNESCO World Heritage Interim List site was closed to visitors in September 2015 for repair work owing to the risk of boulders falling over the building.

FILE PHOTO: Aerial view of Sumela Monastery in in Turkey’s Black Sea province. (AA Archive)

After being closed for repair for almost five years, the stately Sumela Monastery in northern Turkey has reopened its doors for mass for the first time in nearly five years.

The monastery, which overlooks a verdant valley on the Black Sea coast, reopened its doors to Christian Orthodox worship on Saturday after completing four years of repair work.

The ceremony on Saturday coincided with Christians’ observance of the Assumption of Mary.

FILE PHOTO: Aerial view of Sumela Monastery in in Turkey’s Black Sea province. (AA Archive)

Local officials are taking the essential precautions to maintain safety and social distance. They also made plans to offer devotees with lodging and transportation. The service is overseen by Patriarchate authorities. Before, Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew I presided at the liturgy.

Due to the unique coronavirus epidemic, only a limited number of people will attend the mass this year. The mass will last from 0600 to 0900GMT, and no more guests will be permitted for two hours after it concludes.

Restoration work

Due to the risk of rocks falling on the structure, the site was closed to tourists in September 2015.

The structure was cut into the Pontic Alps about 1,600 years ago.

The surrounding rocks were subjected to the initial phase of environmental planning, as well as fortification efforts and geological and geotechnical study, with one portion of the monastery, including its yard, opening to the public in May 2019.

Once the second phase of rehabilitation was completed, 65 percent of the monastery reopened on July 28, 2020, in a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by teleconference and Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy in person.

Rich History

Sumela Monastery, which is also on the UNESCO World Heritage Interim List, is located 300 meters above the woodlands that fill the Altindere Valley in Trabzon’s northeastern region. Meryem Ana is the native name for it (Virgin Mary).

The majority of the monastery was rebuilt in the 18th century, and some of the walls were frescoed. The erection of huge structures in the nineteenth century brought the structure to its current form, and it had its wealthiest era.

The main stone church, some chapels, a kitchen, teaching rooms, guest rooms, a library, and a holy spring are all important parts of the monastery.

A massive aqueduct used for water distribution may be seen leaning against the cliffside near the monastery’s entrance. There are guard rooms at the entrance, from which one can descend into the inner yard by steps.

The church is located in front of a large cavern on the slope of Mount Karadag, which also houses other monastic structures. The chapel’s frescoes come from the early 18th century, with three layers built in three separate eras. The frescoes on the bottom layers are of the finest quality.

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