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Until the Russian occupation of Trabzon (1916–1918), the Sumela Monastery was active and was visited by monks and Christian and Muslim pilgrimages. In 1923, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and after the National War of Liberation, an independent Turkish Republic was founded by Ataturk. After 1923, the Sumela Monastery was abandoned following the population exchange between Greece and Turkey as laid down in the Treaty of Lausanne. In 1930, those who migrated founded a new monastery which they named as the new Panagia Sumela Monastery on the slopes of Mount Vermion, near the town of Naousa, in Macedonia, Greece. Some treasures from the old Sumela Monastery were carried to the new one in Greece.

In 1930, the wooden parts of the Sumela Monastery were destroyed by fire and in the years following other parts of the monastery were damaged and pillaged by treasure hunters.

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Today, the Sumela Monastery is a museum open to visitors. Restoration work is funded by the Government of Turkey. As of 2012, the Turkish government is funding reconstruction work, and the monastery is enjoying a revival in pilgrimage from Greece, Georgia and Russia. The monastery's primary function is as a tourist attraction. It overlooks forests and streams, making it popular for its aesthetics as well as its cultural and religious significance.

On 15 August 2010, Orthodox divine liturgy was allowed to take place in the monastery compound. A special pass issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is required to visit on August 15, the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos or Feast of the Assumption, when a divine liturgy is held. Only 450 to 500 visitors are allowed inside the monastery, although widescreen televisions are available to observe the event at a nearby cafe.


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Panagia Soumela - Παναγία Σουμελά

Construction and buildings

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 library is to the right.

The large building with a balcony on the front part of the cliff was used for the monks' cells and for housing guests. It dates from 1840.

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The inner and outer walls of the Rock Church and the walls of the adjacent chapel are decorated with frescoes. Frescoes dating from the era of Alexios III of Trebizond line the inner wall of the Rock Church facing the courtyard. The frescoes of the chapel which were painted on three levels in three different periods are dated to the beginning of the 18th century. The frescoes of the bottom band are of superior quality.


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Sumela Frescoe Church

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