Turkish monastery welcomes over 123,000 tourists

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Sümela Monastery, located in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, was visited by more than 123,000 people in 99 days.

The monastery, one of the most important faith tourism centers of Turkey, was closed in 2015 due to the risk rocks falling from the nearby Karadağ Mountain posed.

After 70 percent of the restoration work was completed, the monastery was opened to the public from July 28 to Nov. 3, 2020. During this period, it received 123,933 visitors.

Also named after Mother Mary, Sümela Monastery is located on the slope of Karadağ Mountain in the town of Maçka 300 meters above the Altındere Valley and was carved out of rocks in a wooded area.

The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry launched a restoration project in February 2016 for environmental planning, researching and reinforcing the rocks geologically and geotechnically. The first phase of the project was completed and part of the monastery except its yard was opened to visitors in May 2019.

With the completion of a considerable part of the second phase, 65 percent of the monastery was opened on July 28, 2020. The opening was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan via teleconference and by Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy.

As part of the project, some rocks that posed a danger were brought down, some places were surrounded with steel webbing and the inner parts were restored at Sümela Monastery, which was closed for almost five years.

Having hosted nearly 5,000 visitors daily during the first days it was opened to the public, the monastery became one of the most visited archeological sites in Turkey.

The monastery is set to be opened to visitors one more time on Jan. 31.

Trabzon Culture and Tourism Provincial Director Mustafa Asan told the state-run Anadolu Agency that the efforts to create barriers on the slope by industrial mountaineers continue.

“There are 11 barriers in total, but there are an average of seven steel piles between each barrier. Steel piles, about 15 meters in length, are fixed to the rocks by experts, which is a difficult task. Five of the barriers have been completed, and the holes of six are about to be finished. The completion rate of the works at the Sümela Monastery exceeded 70 percent. Also, works for the frescoes in the monastery have been carried out by experts,” Asan said.

Sümela Monastery is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List and the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Trabzon Governor’s Office and Trabzon Metropolitan Municipality carry out serious work for the site to be put on the permanent list.

“Our goal is to see Sümela Monastery on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2022. It is very important that with the restoration at the monastery, we will have left a sound heritage to the future generations,” Asan said.

Hurriyet Daily News

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