Visitors flock to Sümela Monastery after 6 years of restoration
TRABZON – Demirören News Agency
While chapels, monks’ rooms and cellars draw attention in the monastery, which was fully opened to visitors for the first time in its history, efforts to reach the secret chapel discovered during the restoration continue.
The chapel, which is going to be reached by footpath, will be opened to visitors after a one month restoration project and the monastery will never be closed to visitors after the restoration works are completed, according to the officials.
Vehicles can drive as far as the parking lot at 950 meters height near the river. From that point, visitors need to hike for about one kilometer along an uphill trail to reach the entrance of the monastery, which is located 1,200 meters above sea level.
The restoration of the majestic monastery complex began in 2016 and was completed in two phases after landscaping, investigation and strengthening of the geological and geotechnical maintenance of rocks.
The iconic structure was closed to visitors on Nov. 1, 2021, for the fourth time in five years due to restoration and slope improvement projects.
Experts, including professional industrial climbers, fixed the 360-ton rock mass, which posed serious risks, right above the monastery’s entrance to the slope with 16-meter-long steel stakes.
The Sümela Monastery stands carved into the steep cliffside of the mountain 300 meters above the picturesque Altındere Valley and is one of the most important tourist attractions in Trabzon.
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.