Photographer's Note

Sumela Monastery was one of my main "targets" during my last trip to Turkey, in Trabzon province. It is really one of the most impressive sights in the whole Black Sea ("Karadeniz" in turkish, "Πόντος"="Pontos" in greek) region, and a great pilgrimage for all Pontic-Greeks. I visited it twice, the first day (when this photo was taken), the weather was very heavy, very cloudy, sometimes misty. The second day i started driving from Trabzon in full sunshine, but when I reached the Altindere Valley where the monastery is located, clouds started gathering once again, but still the atmosphere was much clearer than the first day (you will probably see some photo(s) from the second visit, in the near future).


"The Smela Monastery (Greek: Μονή Σουμελά, Turkish: Smela Manastırı) stands at the foot of a steep cliff facing the Altındere valley in the region of Maka in Trabzon Province, modern Turkey. Lying at an altitude of approximately 1200 metres, it is a major tourist attraction of Altındere National Park. Founded in the year 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375 - 395),[1] 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.[1]

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, Smela 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.

The Monastery was seized by the Russian Empire during the occupation of Trabzon in the years 1916-1918. The site was finally abandoned in 1923, following the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey after the Treaty of Lausanne. In 1930, the miraculous icon of the Panagia Soumel, as well as other sacred treasures of the monastery, were transferred 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, make it extremely popular for its aesthetic attraction as well as for its cultural and religious significance. Currently restoration works funded by the Turkish government are taking place (***MORE +++***)."


Copyright 2010 Hercules Milas. The reproduction, publication, modification, transmission or exploitation of any work contained herein for any use, personal or commercial, without my prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved

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Additional Photos by Hercules Milas (Cretense) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5327 W: 74 N: 16998] (68709)
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