If you see posters or brochures advertising Turkey travel you will notice that there are three sites which invariably illustrate the ad: Istanbul´s Blue Mosque, Ephesus and..the Sümela Monastery.
Located at approx. 60km from the Turkish Black Sea city and port of Trabzon, the Sümela Monastry is glued to the side of a mountain overlooking the Altindere Valley at an altitude of 3900ft.
Founded in 386 AD by the emperor Theodosius I following the legend of two monks who discovered an icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave of the mountain, the Greek Orthodox monastery is dedicated to her.
Over the centuries, the original structure was expanded thanks to the fact that Byzantine emperors as well as Ottoman sultans supported it with grants.
The road from Trabzon leads through dense forests and along waterfalls to a parking at the foot of the monastery and from there it´s a steep and slippery climb to the entrance.
After that, many more steps need to be conquered to reach the arches, the Rock Church, the kitchen and other dwellings.
The view from the top is as breathtaking as the view from below when the monastery first comes into view and you just wonder how is manages to cling to such a sheer cliff.
If you went with a tour bus, the driver deposits you at the parking, then goes off with a cheerful `see you at the restaurant ´which means an equally precarious decent of about 300m over exposed tree roots, rocks and wet patches.
A musician stands always at the foot of the stairs which lead to the entrance to cheer visitors on.
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte writes at www.glamourgrannytravels.com
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