Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Type / Christian religious centre

Sumela Monastery

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Sumela Monastery

About the site

Corridor: Via Pontica
Country: Turkey, Trabzon
Type: Christian religious centre
Epoch: Middle Ages, Antiquity
World Heritage:
Middle AgesAntiquityChristian religious centre

The monastery, known as Panagia tou Melas ("Our Lady of Black Mountain"), later Sumelas or Sumela, is a monastic complex built into the rock cliffs of the Altindere Valley. Its construction began in 385AD and continued until the 19th century. Barnabas, a monk from Athens and his nephew Sophronios built the section which comprised the first two rooms of the monastry in rocks. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian (AD 527-568) ordered the enlargement of the monastery.
The monastery was looted and burnt by the Byzantines in AD 650. However the Comnenids restored and enlarged the monastey.
The monastery with its 72 rooms and a rich library, lived its most flourishing time during the period of Alexios III.
The monks (and the books) left for good in 1923, during the "population exchanges" between Greece and Turkey. (A new Sumela monastery was founded in northern Greece which functions to this day.) The old one suffered from neglect and arson.
The Monastory complex is authentic in desing, materials, workmanship and survives in a spectacular natural setting.

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