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Amit MukerjeeAmit Mukerjee
Dear Mevlut,It was wonderful to meet you and spend five days in Turkey with Pomegranate Tour.It was amazing to see the coordination at each location and the wonderful groups and guides.Everything was exactly as mentioned in the tour.The lunches arranged were very good with wonderful ambiance.The hot...
Amit Mukerjee
Turkey Travel Destinations - Sumela Monastery
Founded in the year 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375 - 395), legend has it that two priests undertook the founding of the monastery on the site after having discovered a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain.
During its long history, the monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various Emperors. During the 6th Century AD, it was restored and enlarged by General Belisarius at the behest of Justinian.
It reached its present form in the 13th century after gaining prominence during the reign of Alexios III (1349 - 1390) of the Komnenian Empire of Trebizond (established in 1204). At that time, the monastery was granted an amount annually from imperial funds. During the time of Manuel III. son of Alexius III, and during the reigns of subsequent princes, Sümela gained further wealth from imperial grants. Following the conquest by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1461, it was granted protection by order of the Sultan and given rights and privileges which were renewed by following sultans. Monks and travelers continued to journey there through the years, the monastery remaining extremely popular up until the 19th century.
In 1682 and for a few decades it housed the Phrontisterion of Trapezous, a well known Greek educational institution of the region.
The Monastery was seized by the Russian Empireduring the occupation of Trabzon in the years 1916-1918. The site was finally abandoned in 1923, following forced population exchanges between Greece and Turkey. The departing monks were not allowed to take any property with them, so they buried Sumela's famous icon under the floor of the monastery's St. Barbara chapel. In 1930 a monk secretly returned to Sumela and retrieved the icon, transferring it to the new Panagia Soumela Monastery, on the slopes of Mount Vermion, near the town of Naousa, in Macedonia, Greece.
Today the monastery's primary function is as a tourist attraction. Its place overlooking the forests and streams below, makes it extremely popular for its aesthetic attraction as well as for its cultural and religious significance. Currently restoration work funded by the Turkish government is taking place. It is currently enjoying a revival in pilgrimage from Greece and Russia.
On 15 August 2010 Orthodox divine liturgy was again allowed after decades in the monastery compound.
It is important to know that if somebody wants to visit the monastery on the 15th of August (day of the Assumption of Mary , a big christian orthodox feest) for the divine liturgy they need to acquire a special pass. The number of people entering the monastery on the 15th of August is limited to 450-500, thus anyone not having such a pass cannot enter the monastery. Nonethless, widescreens are available to observe the diving liturgy at the cafe some hundred meters away from the monastery. More information about the passes should be found by contacting the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.