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Sumela Monastery

This Greek Orthodox monastery perched high upon a mountainside (300 meters up) is one of the most picturesque sites in all of Turkey. You can see for yourself why monks chose this place, even if you don’t believe the story about the icon of the Virgin Mary flying off of St. Luke’s painting in Athens and alighting on this spot. It really looks like something out of a fairy tale, a massive building beautifully and stunningly incorporated into a vertical cliff. From the ground it seems that it would be impossible to reach Sumela except with divine guidance. The last monks left in 1923, however, after the Declaration of the Turkish Republic led to a population exchange between Turkey and Greece. Try to go to the site as early in the morning as possible to avoid crowds and to get the clearest view- the mists that often surround the area below the monastery give it an eerie, other-worldly air, but may not give you a full appreciation of the view from the top.

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