Sumela Monastery – Trabzon



Where is Sumela Monastery (Virgin Mary) Monastery?

The Sumela Monastery, built on a steep rock on the skirts of Montenegro, overlooking the Altındere valley, within the borders of the Altındere Village of the Maçka District of Trabzon, is known as the “Virgin Mary”. The building, which is at a height of 300 meters from the valley, has continued the tradition of establishing monasteries outside the city, in forests, caves and water sides. Founded in the name of the Virgin Mary, the monastery is said to have taken the name “Sumela” from the word “molasses” meaning “black”. Although this name is thought to come from the dark-colored Montenegrins where the monastery was founded, the word Sumela can be connected to the black color of the depiction of Mary here.

History of Sumela Monastery

According to the legend, the monastery, which was founded by two priests named Barnabas and Sophranios from Athens during the time of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius (375-395), was repaired by Belisarios from the Generals in the 6th century when the Emperor Justinian wanted to repair and expand the monastery.

It is known that the Sümela Monastery has survived from its 13th century with its current state. From the Principality of Trabzon Comnenos founded in 1204, III. The importance of the monastery increased during the time of Alexios (1349-1390) and revenues were provided by edicts. III. Alexios’s son III. Sümela was enriched with new edicts in the period of manual and later princes.

After the eastern Black Sea coast came under Turkish rule, the Ottoman Sultans protected the rights of Sumela and gave some privileges, as in many monasteries.

Many parts of the Sumela Monastery were renovated in the 18th century, and some walls were decorated with frescoes. With the addition of large buildings in the 19th century, the monastery gained a magnificent appearance and experienced its richest and brightest period. The monastery, which took its final form in this period, has become a place visited by many foreign travelers and subject to their writings. The monastery was confiscated during the Russian invasion of Trabzon between 1916 and 1918, after 1923 it was completely evacuated.

The main parts of the Sumela Monastery; The main rock church is a few chapels, kitchen, student rooms, guesthouse, library and holy holy spring. This collection of structures is built on a very large area. The large aqueduct, which seems to bring water at the entrance of the monastery, is leaning on the slope. A large part of this multi-eyed arch has been destroyed today.

The main entrance to the monastery is reached by a narrow long staircase. There are guard rooms next to the entrance door. There is a staircase to the inner courtyard. On the left, there are various monastery buildings in front of the cave, which is the basis of the monastery and turned into a church. On the right is the library. Again, the large balcony section covering the front of the slope on the right was used as monk rooms and guest rooms and dates back to 1860. In the buildings around the courtyard, the effects of Turkish art can be seen in the cabinets, cells, furnaces and the rooms.