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Sumela Monastry, Trabzon, Turkey

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Sumela Monastery (Turkish: Sümela Manastırı; Panagia Soumela, Soumela “Virgin Mary’s in greek) is a rock carved out impressive monastery perched dramatically narrow shelf and steep woods south of Trabzon. It was built in the fourth century, just before the Roman Empire divided into east and west, two in Athens, priests and Sofronio Barnabas, who according to legend, he found the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave. Monastery of the tumultuous geopolitical position of this side of the world, of course, given the time and was ruined several times during its history, with a flourishing times of the Byzantine and Ottoman.

Sumela is 1600 year old Orthodox monastery is located at 1200 meters above sea level is steep in the town of Macka in Trabzon, Turkey.

The monastery is built with stones accessible path through the forest. Beautiful frescos of the monastery of the 18th century of biblical scenes on the walls of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

The site was abandoned in 1923 and became a museum and popular tourist destination thanks to its superb location, structure and landscape. 15. August 2010 authorization of the Government of Turkey, the Orthodox mass is held for the first time Sumela monastery since 1923.

Sumela History

According to legend, the monastery was founded by two Greek priests called Barnabas and Sofronio in 386 AD during the reign of Roman Emperor Theodosius I (379-395) is also known as Flavius Theodosius.

That in the sixth century during the reign of Emperor Justinian, the monastery was repaired by one of his commanders named Belisario. In the 13 th century, Trabzon and areas have begun to be under the control of a new formation called the Comnenus dynasty, development as an independent state of the Byzantine Empire.

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Trabzon became its own capital and princes the title of the true heirs of the Byzantine Empire. During the reign of Alexander III Comnenus (1349-1390), the monastery took its current form. It has been funded annually by the imperial golden age.

When the Ottomans came and conquered Trabzon Sultan Mehmet II in 1461, ordered the monastery to protect and Sumela following the Sultans Mehmed II remained faithful to the order and gives special rights and privileges for the monastery in 1916.

Until the Russian occupation of Trabzon (- 1918), the Monastery of Sumela remained active and visited by the monks and Muslim and Christian pilgrimages. In 1923, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and after the war for national freedom, independence of the Republic of Turkey was founded by Ataturk.

After 1923, the Sumela Monastery was abandoned due to the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey under the Treaty of Lausanne. In 1930, those who migrated founded a new monastery which they named as the new monastery of Panagia Soumelis on the slopes of Mount Vermion, near the city of Naoussa, Macedonia, Greece.  Some treasures of the ancient monastery of Sumela were carried out in the new Greece.

With the fire in 1930, was the wooden parts of the monastery destroyed Sumela. The following year, hunters Treasury damaged the remaining parts of the monastery.

Today Sumela Monastery is a museum open to visitors from around the world, and the restoration work was funded by the Turkish government.

Sumela Location

Today Sumela Monastery located on the cliffs high mountains Zigana an attitude of 1200 meters in the region Macka Trabzon province on the Black Sea in Turkey, 46 km (26 miles) from Trabzon.

The monastery is Altindere National Park, surrounded by a beautiful forest and down the mountain manages one of the arms Degirmendere Creek. Vehicles can access the car park at 950 meters near the river, and from this point you have to walk up the road about 1 km path (0.7 mile) to reach the entrance of the monastery, situated in a position of 1200 meters above sea level

Regular tours are available from Trabzon city.

If you want to do it on your own, take a minibus from Trabzon to Macka, and from Macka to Altindere National Park which will take you to the bottom of the mountain. You may also take a taxi to the site.

Legends in SumelaHow to reach Sumela

Foundation of the monastery
During the reign of Theodosius I (375 – 395), two Athenian priests named Barnabus and Sophronius, while travelling from Athens to Trabzon, found a miraculous icon of Virgin Mary in a cave on a mountain, and decided to build a church there to create a house for the icon. This cave or hollow today forms the center of the monastery.

According to the legend, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, St Luke, made the icon and after his death the icon was sent to Athens. However, during the reign of Theodosius I, the icon wished to leave Athens and it was carried by angels from Athens to Trabzon and put into this cave for Barbanus and Sophronius to find it.

The icon is believed to be of a great age and to possess miraculous properties.

In the center of the Monastery, there was a sacred pool into where large drops of water from thirty or forty meters above were falling. Not only in Christianity but also in Muslim religion Mother Mary is believed to bring health to people. So over the centuries, Christians and Muslims came to the monastery to seek for health from these sacred water drops after offering gifts and sacrifices to the monastery.

Name of the monastery
Sumela is the Greek Name of the monastery, founded in the name of Virgin Mary (Μονή Παναγίας Σουμελά, in English monastery of the Panaghia which is the name of Virgin Mary in Greek).

There are two theories of the reason of the name ‘Sumela’ to be put in this monastery. ‘Mela’ in Greek means ‘dark’ or ‘black’. This may refer to the black forrest and the mountains where the church is built. But it may also refer to the icon of Virgin Mary too because in the icon Virgin Mary is dark, or could be even described as black. Also the mountain’s name became known as Oros Mela (Black Mountain) because of the Monastery.

In the 12th century, it was very common to describe Virgin Mary in black to emphasize the mysterious expression on Virgin Mary’s face. These icons were called Black Madonna mostly used in Georgian art and Eastern Europe which is also believed to be the traces of ancient Indian art. This Black Madonna’s are usually found in the heights of forests in the mountains near a healing spring and is believed to arrive there for a miraculous purpose. These places become a pilgrimage place for Christians.

The icon in Sumela Monastery could also be black by the black wooden surface. Enough research could not be done so we do not have clear information about the age of the icon or if it is a true Black Madonna or not. There is an old photograph of the icon and in this photo the wooden surface and the silver frame surrounding the icon is seen clearly.

Sumela Monastery in World Media

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FINANCIAL TIMES August 15 2010 22:18 By David O’Byrne in Istanbul

‘Turkey lifts ban to allow mass at monastery ‘

‘Five hundred Greek orthodox Christians have celebrated mass in the beautiful 1,600-year-old Sumela monastery in north-eastern Turkey, ending an 88-year ban on religious services at the site.’
‘Conducted by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Dimitri Bartholomew I, the mass attracted orthodox Christians from Greece, Russia, Georgia, the US and Turkey to the monastery that sits on a ledge high in a cliff inland from the Turkish Black Sea port of Trabzon.’

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REUTERS CANADA Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:30am EDT By Ayla Jean Yackley

‘Orthodox flock to once-banned holy site in Turkey’

‘Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians, celebrated the Divine Liturgy to mark the Feast Day of the Virgin Mary. The faithful believe Jesus’s mother Mary was taken up to heaven on August 15 after her death.’

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ASSOCIATED PRESS August 15 2010, By Erol Israfil

‘Patriarch holds historic Mass at monastery’

‘The mass conducted by Patriarch Bartholomew I, religious leader of all Orthodox Christians, marks the first official religious service carried out at the ancient monastery since the foundation of the modern Turkish Republic. ‘

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BBC NEWS August 15 2010

‘Orthodox Christians from around the world have been attending a rare Mass at an ancient monastery in Turkey.’

‘At least 1,500 pilgrims, including people from Greece and Russia, travelled to the Byzantine-era monastery.’

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GREEK REPORTER EUROPE August 15 2010 by Anny Tzotzadini

‘ “After 88 years, the tears of the Virgin Mary have stopped flowing,” the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos, said during the service.’

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DIE PRESSE.COM 16.08.2010 | 08:59
‘ Türkisches Kloster Sumela: Erste Messe seit 90 Jahren ‘

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EURONEWS 15/08 16:36 CET
‘Rare Orthodox mass held at Turkish monastery. ‘

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EL NACIONAL.COM 15 de agosto 2010 | 10:22 am – EFE
‘Celebran misa cristiana en el monasterio turco de Sumela por primera vez en 88 años’

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POLSKA AGENCJA PRASOWA SA 15 August 2010
‘Pierwsza od 88 lat msza w prawosławnym klasztorze Sumela w Turcji’

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Cappadocia

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Cappadocia which is unique and is a miraculous nature wonder is the common name for the region of the provinces of Aksaray, Nevsehir, Nigde, Kayseri and Kirsehir in central Anatolia region.

In the period of Myos higher in the Cappadocia region because of volcanic eruptions occurred in Erciyes, Hasandag Gulludag and was in the region formed a vast plateau of volcanic tuff and in collaboration with the erosion of the river and the wind Kizilirmak over ten years thausands appeared the chimney rocks, which is a natural wonder. In the early Bronze Age of Cappadocia, which was the area the population of the Assyrian civilization later has hosted the Hittite, fridge, Pers, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman civilizations. The early Christians have fled persecution in the Roman Empire in the second century BC came to Cappadocia in Antakya and Kayseri and they settled here. The early Christians are the underground cities of Cappadocia has been hidden in these underground cities which gates were made so that they could not easily observable, and they fled persecution by the Roman soldiers.

Because of this they live in underground cities for long without being able to get what they have developed these underground cities by making provisions rooms, ventilation chimneys, places of production of wine, churches, abbeys , water wells, toilets and meeting rooms.

In prehistoric times, the first settlements began and humans have built underground cities in the tuff as a result of protection against wild animals and lived long in these underground cities. There are underground cities for many in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, but the biggest is the city of Derinkuyu underground.

In such cities as parts connected to each other some of the rooms were connected to each other, only with narrow tunnels and allow the passage of one person. To access the gates of these tunnels there were huge stone rollers used for closing the tunnels for safety reasons.

Cappadocia introduction movie



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The first people in the region of Cappadocia was Luvie Hattie and the Hittites. In the years 3000-2000 BC, the Assyrians have established trade colonies in this region. Cappaddocian tables with cuneiform in Assyrian language founded in Kanes illuminates the social and political life of the time and were at the same time, trade and economic agreements are the firs written tablets of Anatolia. According to these documents from the period in Anatolia were founded small local kingdoms, not by a central authority. Usually, their hands in a small area and live in peace. The region to form the core of the Hittite Empire later passed under the dominion of Phrygia and Persian civilization Katpatuka Persons called this region and its center was Mazak.

When Datames Satrab (Starab: District Administrator in a small Persons) Cappadocia has bear arms against the biggest king of Pers, the other Anatolian Satrabs supported him, but the rebellion broke. In 33 BC, Alexander the Great had captured an important part of Cappadocia. Cappadocia in 188 BC, which is recorded in the Roman Empire was captured in 100 BC, king of Pontus, Mithridates, but Mithridatesd 63 BC, Pompey was defeated and took over Cappadocia under the domination of Rome. During the period of Tiberius the Roman Cappadocia gainded space of the city.

Cappadocia was one of the most important in times of Christianity. The early Christians trying to escape from Roman soldiers, who wanted to avoid the spread of Christianity in the region have settled in Cappadocia, which was so suitable for hiding and then were able to continue to spread their nature and religion. San Basileious by the Kaiser, and St. Gregory of Nyssa had settled from Cappadocia. In 647 AC together with occupation of Kayseri Cappadocia Muaviye met with Arab attacks. Cappadocia which went under the domination of the Seljuks in 1072 has been added to the lands by the Ottoman Empire in 1399 the Ottoman sultan Yildirim Beyazit.

Forest birds Reed

Kayseri Erciyes Dagi and south of, or Sultansazligi Sultan Marshes is an extensive wetland area, which surrounds the Plain Develi. The road to Kayseri is a city Develi offers a very scenic drive following the Karasu River Tekir Yaylasi a popular ski resort located on the eastern side of Erciyes Dagi. The road descends the southern slopes of the mountain, where the Sultan Marshes ecosystem size, scattered throughout the majestic, snow-covered mountain. And ‘the closest, and the reeds swaying breeze and iridescent blue water sparkles in the sun and the masses of pink flamingos in the Yay Golu fury.

This wetland consists of two freshwater lakes covered with reeds, and Col Golu Egrigol, north and south of Develi plain Yay Golu a salt lake between them and the surrounding wetlands. It is the largest wetland ecosystem in Turkey and is fed by many springs and streams of the surrounding mountains. Its location at the time of three continents makes it an important breeding ground for birds and over 250 species found here. While the Sultan marshes are of particular interest to ornithologists, the flamingos Yay Golu is just as impressive for most travelers like Lake Nakuru in Kenya and Lake Manyara in Tanzania.

There is a watchtower on the Ovaciftlik just east of Kayseri-Nigde highway along the road connecting to Yahyali, a village where women weave carpets distinctive local patterns of world renown. Villages near Sindelhuyuk Develi Ovaciftlik and is convenient to take action to see the flamingos Yay Golu, but boat trips on various lakes are generally negotiated by one of the villages that surround the area.

Underground Cities

Although underground ‘city’ the term of Cappadocia, was probably temporary or permanent refuge in the hidden city. Constant darkness is hardly conducive to life, and some passages are a little ‘more than crawl spaces, would be unsustainable in the long-term situations. No there is no certainty a number of underground communities exist, or even that they were built.

The two largest communities that have been excavated, are located on Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, 20 and 30 km. south of Nevsehir Nevsehir-Nigde road. It is believed that the Hittites may have excavated the lower levels of the rock where they were attacked by the Phrygians around 1200 BC. But some archaeologists believe that the oldest caves, those hewn with stone rather than metal tools, which are much older. These rooms were later extended to a complete cave complex by Christians escaping the Arab invasions of the 7th and 8th century.

Discrete inputs give way to elaborate systems of underground air with trees, tree waste, wells, chimneys and connection time. The higher levels were used for housing, while lower levels were used for storage, wine making, flour milling and worship in the chapels simple. Everywhere the walls were blackened by the use of torches. There is a tunnel connecting Kaymakli and Derinkuyu that allowed three people to go through the same time, but it is not available to the public through the tunnel collapsed.

0nly 10 kms. This is another Kaymakli Cavetown to Mazikoy that may be related to Derinkuyu but this remains to be demonstrated. This community was built in the walls of a cliff. Unlike Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, there are no stairs or classes of moving from one level to another. In contrast, the levels are well defined with connecting tunnels through which the people went up or abandoned by their own footholds carved into the walls of trees. Mazikoy is often ignored because it is a small community, its location is far from the main road and some flexibility is needed to fully appreciate its capabilities.

Cut Rock Churches and Monasteries

Many of the settlements in Cappadocia had been established primarily monastic communities. Bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in the 4 th century, St. Basil the Great wrote the rules of monastic life, which are still followed by monks and nuns of the Greek Orthodox Church. She claimed the life of the community, prayer and physical labor as a solitary asceticism that was popular at that time and it was his leadership that the first churches built in the valley of Goreme. This small communities, each with their churches, formed a large monastic complex which is now the Open Air Museum. Hundreds of churches are reported to have been built in this valley, but not in the churches of St. Basil of minutes. Goreme, Tokali Kilise or “Buckle Church” is easily the most beautiful churches, with arches and beautiful frescoes.

The monastery is the most impressive monastery in Cappadocia is Eskigumus Nigde Nigde-Kayseri road. It is the southernmost of the monasteries of Cappadocia and is close to the road that the Arabs invaders, which is crossed by the southern mountains of Tarsus in Kayseri looting in the seventh century. This road follows the river through a hastily called Tarsus Bogazi Gulek unclean. He was known in the ancient world as Gates, Cilicia, and was used by Alexander the Great in his campaign against the Persians East. The entrance to the monastery of any Eskigumus was designed to protect the monastery from passers attackers. It was so successful that the monastery was not discovered until 1963, having escaped the vandalism, which most churches and monasteries of Cappadocia were submitted. The large courtyard surrounded by high walls of the monastery boasts rooms and shops. The main church is spacious and airy, and well-preserved murals considered the best example of Byzantine art in all of Cappadocia.

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