Virgin Mary Monastery to draw Sümela’s visitors
GİRESUN – Anadolu Agency
AA photoThe historic rock-carved Virgin Mary Monastery in the Black Sea province of Giresun is expected to draw a lot more interest in the near future after a more famous nearby monastery, Sümela in Trabzon, was closed for restoration work.
The Virgin Mary Monastery, situated on a hill in the Kayadibi village in Şebinkarahisar, is known as Turkey’s second biggest natural and carved monastery after Sümela. Built for Orthodox Greeks, the monastery has been serving tourists for two years.
The four-story and 32-room monastery can be reached on foot in 20 minutes and visited for free.
The Sümela Monastery in Trabzon’s Maçka district was closed for restoration and officials expect that it will create an opportunity for the Virgin Mary Monastery.
Şebinkarahisar District Gov. Murat Çağrı Erdinç said the monastery was the site of one of 17 metropolitans in Anatolia in the history of Christianity.
There has been a serious increase in faith tourism in recent years, Erdinç said. “In this sense, we believe that we will host both local and foreign tourists. Sümela Monastery is a very important cultural heritage, but since it is undergoing a restoration process, we believe that demand for the Virgin Mary Monastery will increase.”
Erdinç said the Virgin Mary Monastery was made up four floors and 32 rooms.
“On the entrance floor, there is a bath and toilet. Resting, sleeping and eating places are on the second floor and classrooms are on the third floor. The fourth floor is home to a chapel,” he said.
Erdinç said some works had been carried out in the monastery for the tourism season. “Some places have been damaged with writings and drawings. Work is continuing for their restoration. Also walking routes, lighting, café, water and toilet works are continuing. I hope this year we will be able to host tourists,” Erdinç said.
Unique opportunity for faith tourism
Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Hulusi Güleç said the Virgin Mary was one of the oldest monasteries in the area.
“As Sümela Monastery was closed for maintenance, the Virgin Mary Monastery is a unique opportunity for faith tourism. Tourists visiting the Eastern Black Sea may also visit the monastery in our city. We believe that tourists will rush to the region,” Güleç said.
The Virgin Mary Monastery began to serve in the fourth century A.D., he said. “Of course it was not that big in its early years. It was a small place of worship in a hollow area in the middle of the rocks. Later on, when Christianity was recognized as the official religion by the Romans, additional parts were added to the monastery, and it took its current shape.”