Names on frescoes of Sümela Monastery erased
Work has been initiated in the historical Sümela Monastery to erase the names and love quotes on the frescoes that have been restored painstakingly by a group of 14 restaurateurs and chemists. The monastery, located in the Maçka district of the northern province of Trabzon, was opened to visitors this year after six years of restoration work, and even the waterways have been changed for the restoration of the frescoes on the walls.
The Sümela Monastery on the outskirts of Karadağ is one of the most important historical and religious places of Türkiye and visited by thousands of local and foreign tourists.
In the closed monastery, industrial climbers covered and strengthened the slopes with steel nets against stone falls. The restoration team also worked on the interior areas. Protected by the “bundling” system, where steel nets are laid on the hillside, the monastery was opened to visitors with all its areas six years later after the restoration work was completed.
During the restoration, hidden spaces in the monastery were also unearthed. The 10 chapels, bell tower, guesthouse, monk and student rooms, cellar and similar structures to the right of the Main Rock Church were opened to visitors for the first time in the history of the monastery.
As part of the fine restoration, work was also carried out on the frescoes that were destroyed by the leaking surface waters. Now a special work has been carried out to erase the names and love quotes engraved on the frescoes.
“Now it is time to work on the landscaping, lighting and most importantly, the frescoes in the monastery. The frescoes have been destroyed. The Culture and Tourism Ministry has a team of experts from Istanbul, Trabzon, Gaziantep and Ankara. This is very delicate work. They carry out their work just as a surgeon treats his patient very meticulously in a surgery. It will take time to fix the frescoes that have been destroyed due to natural conditions and human factors. The expert teams can only work during the summer months. Since the summer season is short in the region, the works are not at a level that can be seen by the visitors. The most prominent work is carried out on the Virgin Mary-Child Jesus figure inside the monastery. We will unearth the frescoes and present them to the visitors,” said the Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Tamer Erdoğan.
The monastery, which has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List since 2000, is also known as the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Virgin Mary and is believed to have been constructed by two monks in the late fourth century.
The monastery was closed to visitors on Nov. 1, 2021, for the fourth time in five years due to restoration and slope improvement projects.
The restoration began in 2016 and was completed in two phases after landscaping, investigation and strengthening of the geological and geotechnical maintenance of rocks.