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MONASTERIES ON CLOUDS
sanctuaries for seclusion
1. sumela monastery turkey

One of the types of sanctuaries that are commonly seen in the present or previous Christian lands are the monasteries built on the peaks of the high hills or on the edges of high cliffs. The purpose of choosing such construction methods is both to live in a defensable structure and to have a isolated lifestyle dedicated to god. There are dozens of monasteries built in this way and similar locations, but in this article we will mention about three similar structures.

The first one of these monasteries that we will mention is the Sumela Monastery which is located in the city of Trabzon in Turkey.
Nestled in a steep cliff at an altitude of about 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) facing the Altındere valley, it is a site of great historical and cultural significance, as well as a major tourist attraction within Altındere National Park. 

İnterior of Sumela Monastery Complex.

The principal elements of the Monastery complex are the Rock Church, several chapels, kitchens, student rooms, a guesthouse, a library, and a sacred spring revered by Eastern Orthodox Christians.
The large aqueduct at the entrance, which supplied water to the Monastery, is constructed against the side of the cliff. The aqueduct has many arches which have mostly been restored. The entrance to the Monastery leads up a long and narrow stairway. There is a guard-room next to the entrance. The stairs lead down from there to the inner courtyard. On the left, in front of a cave, there are several monastery buildings. The cave, which was converted into a church, constitutes the center of the monastery. 
The large building with a balcony on the front part of the cliff which was dated from 1840 was used for the monks' cells and for housing guests. 
The inner and outer walls of the Rock Church and the walls of the adjacent chapel are decorated with frescoes dating from the era of Alexios III. These frescoes, the main subject of which are biblical scenes about Christ and the Virgin Mary were seriously damaged due to vandalism. During the 2015-2017 restoration works, a secret tunnel was discovered which lead to a place which is believed to have served as a temple or chapel for Christians. Also, unseen frescoes were discovered depicting heaven and hell as well as life and death

Above is the slightshow about the exterior and interior of the  Sumela Monastery

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2. Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona / ıtaly

The 16th century Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona, is nestled into the side of a cliff in northern Italy. İt is located near Lake Garda on Mount Baldo and the church seems to float over the clouds.  Its relative inaccessibility has been its main importance by being largely untouchable through the years.

The site of the church was originally a hermitage, where holy men would gather for silent contemplation. Later, in 1530, construction on the church was started and it was continually expanded through the 19th century. In fact, its gothic style facade is the result of a revamp in 1899. Though the church had been fairly well-preserved, signs of wear began to show over time. So much so that in the late 1970s there was a complete restoration of the site, with some of the damaged parts being torn down. Upon completion of the restoration in 1988, Pope John Paul II made a visit to the sanctuary.

Nowadays, the Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona is a pilgrimage site that draws visitors from around the world. The Sanctuary campus is accessible only on foot and  there are two paths leading to the church. The original pathway is a long set of steps leading from the nearby town of Brentino. In the 1920s, an asphalt pedestrian road was added which has fourteen bronze statues representing the Stations of the Cross to guide pilgrims on their way.

Above is the slideshow about the Sanctuary of madonna della Corona

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3. ostrog manastery montenegro

Above is the slightshow about the exterior and interior of the  Sumela Monastery

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The Monastery is told to be founded by Vasilije who was the Metropolitan Bishop of Herzegovina in the 17th century. He died there in 1671 and some years later he was glorified. His body is enshrined in a reliquary kept in the cave-church dedicated to the Presentation of the Mother of God to the Temple.

The present-day look was given to the Monastery in 1923-1926, after a fire which had destroyed the major part of the complex. The two little cave-churches which are the key areas of the monumentwere spared. The frescoes in the Church of the Presentation were created towards the end of the 17th century. The other church, dedicated to the Holy Cross, is placed within a cave on the upper level of the monastery and was painted by master Radul, who successfully coped with the natural shapes of the cave and laid the frescoes immediately on the surface of the rock and the south wall. Around the church are the monastic residences.

The Orthodox monastery of Ostrog is one of the most frequently visited sancturary on the Balkans with over 100,000 visitors a year. It is visited by believers from all parts of the world. It represents the meeting place of all confessions like the Orthodoxhes, the Catholics and the Muslims. 

Above is the slideshow about Ostrog Monastery

Panagia Kakaviotissa GREECE
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The church of Panagia Kakaviotissa has been named one of Greece’s most unique and beautiful churches. Located on Lemnos island, in the North Aegean, it was named Kakaviotissa, after the mountain “Kakavos” upon which it is built.

This Greek Orthodox church is famous for not having a roof and for being built inside a cave. The hard-to-access location of the church in the midst of cliffs and on top of a mountain, was founded in 1,416 A.D. by some monks who managed to escape the Turkish invasion in Agios Efstratios island.

The church used to be a shelter for monks and hermits. The hidden gem has a striking location from where it offers an impressive view to the sea and the mountainside of Lemnos.

The best time to visit would be in the evening when the chapel is flooded by natural light. The chapel of Panagia Kakaviotissa celebrates on Tuesday after Easter. It requires a 20-minute walking through a dirt road from the end of the asphalt road, which is why this chapel is a frequent hiking destination on the island.

 
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