Sumela Monastery

Discover Trabzon and its hidden sanctuary

Hidden Sanctuary in Clouds

Sumela Monastery, which is located in Macka district of Trabzon province in the Black Sea region, is a site of historical and cultural significance as well as a major tourist attraction. It was included on the UNESCO Tentative List in 2000.

Sumela Monastery

One of the highlights of the Black Sea region, Sumela Monastery sits on a steep cliff at an altitude of 1200 m. Carved out into the Karadag Mountain above the Altindere Valley, the monastic complex dates back to the 4th century AD and is a striking place to visit.

Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Known as the Monastery of Virgin Mary by the local people, it was founded in the 4th century AD as the dream of two monks named Barnabas and Sophronios, who came from Athens and built a small church here. Sumela was expanded into a monastery during the Byzantine Empire and has become a science and culture center with its rich library. After the conquest of Trabzon by the Ottoman Empire, it continued to be used uninterruptedly until 1923.

Unbelievably nestled on a steep cliff, Sumela is, no doubt, the most magnificent and hierarchical of the many monasteries in this region. As it was in the past, it is the most well known and most visited of the monasteries today.

Extraordinary Complex

Clinging to a cliff 50 km south of Trabzon, Sumela Monastery is a monument to human perseverance. Apart from the church building, chapels and monks' rooms in the monastery that is spread to a very large area; there are libraries which were used once bookcases where valuable manuscripts were kept, kitchens and cellars where food was stored, divisions used as holy spring. In addition to the architecture of the Sumela Monastery, which is an important cultural treasure that continues to fascinate its visitors with its appearance, it also has a number of frescoes that draw attention from the Bible.

UNESCO Tentative List

Sumela Monastery (The Monastery of Virgin Mary), which was included on the UNESCO Tentative List in 2000, is one of the outstanding universal values of Turkey.

  • Official Name: Sumela Monastery
  • Architectural Type: Sanctuary
  • Date of Submission: 2000
  • Category: Cultural
  • Reference: 1397
  • Location: Trabzon, Turkey

Visiting the Monastery

Due to risk of rocks falling over, Sumela Monastery was closed to visits in September 2015. After 4 years of restoration, it was opened for visits in July 2020 again.

Hidden Sanctuary in Clouds
Backyard of the Sumela, Trabzon