Sümela to become place for faith, cultural tourism

Sümela to become place for faith, cultural tourism

TRABZON - Anatolia News Agency
Sümela to become place for faith, cultural tourism

Sümela Monastery, an important monastery for Orthodox Christians, has drawn more interest from faith practitioners in the wake of the ceremony that took place two years ago in collaboration Patriarch Bartholomew (below). ‘There is a 40 percent increase in the number of foreign visitors to the monastery,’ says the mayor. Hürriyet photo

Authorities have begun new projects to develop faith and culture tourism at Sümela Monastery, one of the Black Sea region and Turkey’s most awe-inspiring sites.

The number of visitors has increased more than 100 percent since a special Mass was held Aug. 15, 2010, at the monastery, which is located on the side of the Karadağ Mountains in Trabzon’s Maçka district, according to a local official.

“The ceremony held at the Sümela Monastery became well-known on the international platform. An important monastery for Orthodox Christians, Sümela has drawn more interest from people of this religion in the wake of the ceremony,” Maçka Mayor Ertuğrul Genç said, adding that there had been a 40 percent increase in the number of foreign visitors to the monastery.

Not only promotion

Genç said their purpose was not only to promote the monastery, but also to serve tourism by highlighting the significant factors in the region through the monastery. “Our purpose is to promote Sümela-based tourism. We can call it faith and culture tourism, but beyond this, [eco-tourism] or maybe thermal-spring tourism will come to the fore,” he said.

A road to the nearby Çakırgöl ski center project is under construction, he said, adding that when the ski center of international standards opens, winter, summer, nature and cultural tourism would be possible in the region.

One of Turkey’s largest treatment and rehabilitation hospitals has also been established in Maçka, he said, adding that this would help develop health tourism. “In this way, Maçka will make use of all types of tourism.”

Ultimately, Sümela Monastery is a significant draw in all these types of tourism, Genç said, adding that they were bringing Sümela to the fore by promoting it internationally.

“In his latest visit to the region, Patriarch Bartholomew also visited the Vazelon and Kuştul monasteries, which are as old as Sümela, after the religious ceremony,” he said, adding that they hoped these monasteries would also be visited by many people in 2012. “His visit helped these monasteries become known to many.”

Genç said the ceremony took three days and contributed to the region. But, even one day or one hour was important to them, he said. “It is very important as long as it makes the region active. We plan to open Sümela Monastery to religious ceremonies on other important days for Christians and make tourism active throughout the year. Work is continuing to achieve this plan.”

Orthodox Christians want to hold celebrations at Sümela Monastery. “This may be Christmas or Easter. We are now preparing for Easter. We have had talks with Culture and Tourism Ministry officials and Patriarch Bartholomew,” he said.