Discover Unique Facts About The Iconic Sumela Monastery In Turkey

Sumela Monastery became a popular tourist destination thanks to its Virgin Mary icon hand-painted by Apostle Luke as a tribute to the Mother Mary. Built in 385 A.D., the Sumela Monastery is over 1000+ years old, making it extremely challenging for the local authorities to restore the monastery ruins and maintain them over the years. The Sumela monastery tour arranged by several local Turkish tour operators gives you a sneak peek into the iconic monument and the rich heritage it carries along with its significance in Turkish culture.

Sumela Monastery Tour


If you are visiting Trabzon, your trip would be incomplete if you missed the Sumela Monastery tour. The Sumela Monastery is nestled over a 300-meter cliff in the Macka district in the outskirts of Altindere Village. But, before you know the significance of this iconic Turkish landmark, let’s give you a sneak peek of the Sumela Monastery history.

It is one of the top tourist attractions in Turkey is stationed on a cliff overlooking beautiful natural vistas 300 meters high, including gorgeous mountainous views. The grand iconic landmark is more than 1600 years old. This landmark was used as a Greek educational institution till the inception of the Turkish Republic in the year 1923.

The dazzling ancient masterpiece brings along unique aspects that significantly contribute to the rich cultural Turkish heritage. Dive into the fascinating Sumela Monastery history as you get to witness and get lost in the incredible natural beauty surrounding the ancient structure, starting from the hidden caves to the mighty waterfalls in the neighbourhood.

The Sumela Monastery tour is mentored and guided by an experienced guide which features an authentic traditional culinary treat from a tiny local village. The Sumela Monastery tour is available every day of the week and will surely leave you with several cultivated memories behind.

Tour Inception

The Sumela Monastery tour kicks off from the Trabzon city hotel post your breakfast. You will reach this ravishing architecture marvel within an hour’s drive.

Stopovers and tour itinerary

You will be in awe at the first look at the Altindere National Park. This waterfall series has a profound effect on all moods and will surely swing all emotions in your body in the right way—a perfect way to find some quiet moments to reflect and admire the natural vistas on offer. The waterfall sounds will surely rejuvenate your mind and soothe every stress point in your body. Don’t forget to capture these moments, and this will guarantee to sit in your memory block for a long time to come.

You may not have overcome the incredible beauty of the Altindere National Park & Waterfalls when you reach the Sumela Monastery observation point. The 15-minute walk to the observation point will give you instant access, and you can get to witness the entire length of the monastery with a gorgeous top view like never. The iconic landmark looks marvellous from the observation point, and the serene environment and natural surroundings of the lush green forest play a critical role in this majestic view. Snap photos for your Instagram profile as you soak in the tranquillity of this splendid natural wonder.

The neighbouring Cosandere Valley gives you a fitting reminder of how sumptuous Mother Nature builds splendid wonders. Reflect on your life or admire the dazzling views around you. You can enjoy a delightful lunch at Zigana Pass, where you surely get splendid pine trees to compliment and savour your meal.

The ancient Tortul Castle will surely inspire you with its majestic and splendid views. You don’t exactly need nerves of steel to manoeuvre to the 240-meter-high glass observation point. The incredible and unparalleled vistas are on display for those who make it there—stopover for some click moments and your Instagram selfies.

We then a stopover at the magnificent Karaca Cave. Placed at a towering height of 1500 meters above sea level. You will come across amiable stalagmites and stalactites along with many unique cave plants in your journey. These caves were used as study references for the students of the Karadeniz Technical University earlier to dive deeper into various types of rock minerals. This natural wonder is decorated with sufficient bright lighting to navigate the caves.

Post admiring the gorgeous natural vistas, we finally stop at the Hamsikoy region. This peaceful region features five tiny villages that have grown together. Try some local delicacies for fresh, authentic, and unique culinary treats. If you are looking for suggestions, the rice pudding or sutlac will surely tantalize your taste buds. Farming is very prominent here, and the freshness of every ingredient used in the dishes offered is a testimony to that.

We will finally drop you off from your pickup location or hotel post the trip.

What does the Sumela Monastery tour include?

The Sumela Monastery tour includes a pickup & drop-off at Trabzon, a scrumptious lunch, transport, delightful treats, entry fees to the Sumela Monastery, and professional guide charges.

You may have undergone several trips to refresh your body, mind, and soul. But the Sumela Monastery tour revitalizes your memory and refreshes all moods with its incredible natural beauty and surroundings. You will cherish lifelong every minute spent here.

The Sumela Monastery Complex

Sumela Monastery

Many people admire the outside of the Sumela Monastery without even going inside. However, it is worthwhile to see the monastery up close. Now that the restoration has been finished, you can explore the entire complex when you visit. Some of the tourist attractions on the site comprise the Rock Church, the library, the aqueduct, and the monks’ living area.

  • The Aqueduct- When you enter the monastery, you can observe the remains of a full-size aqueduct made into the cliffside. Several arches of the Aqueduct have been fixed up, and you may walk along the lane running alongside this aqueduct. The Aqueduct is utilized for bringing water to the monastery and is viewable at the monastery’s entrance.
  • The Rock Church- The Rock Church, the oldest part of the Sumela Monastery, forms the heart of the monastery complex. Tradition has it that the icon of the Virgin Mary was discovered in this church, which was constructed by hollowing out a cave, smoothing its surfaces, and sealing the cave’s entrance with a straight wall. Both the interior and exterior walls of the Rock Church feature frescoes depicting Jesus and Mary. The smaller chapel was added later, and most of its murals date from the 18th century, though older paintings may lie underneath or have been ruined over time. The frescoes have suffered damage over the years, with many faces obscured.
  • Main Monastery Building- The inner courtyard has a view of several fascinating rooms, such as the monastery and library. At the courtyard’s far end, a narrow passage leads to the large monastery structure. This is where the monks resided, with three main floors above and a series of cellars below. This section appears to dangle from the cliff when looking at the monastery from afar.

Visiting Sumela Monastery

The Sumela Monastery in Turkey is easily accessible on your way to Trabzon or the nearby towns along Turkey’s Black Sea coast. All it takes to arrive at the monastery, with its imposing exteriors, is a 40-minute drive from Trabzon.

To reach the monastery from Trabzon, you may hire a car and drive to the Altındere National Park, where it is situated. You will need to take a shuttle from the parking lot to get closer to the monastery itself. The last bit requires walking along a steep forest path and climbing many narrow stairs up the cliffside where the monastery clings. But once at the top, the views make the strenuous hike worthwhile! You can explore the monastery grounds, and there is also an on-site museum to visit.

From the upper parking area, take a short stroll to the tiny Aya Varvara chapel. And do not miss the scenic viewpoint located just behind it. Before ascending the stairs, walk along the boardwalk by the aqueduct and pay a small fee to take in the views over the archaeological site.

Guided tours to the monastery from Trabzon are another option. Tour groups will be required taking the park’s shuttle up to the monastery site.

Tours & Day Trips to Sumela Monastery

If driving yourself to the monastery is not ideal, there are some guided tour options from Trabzon to consider.

Sign up for a half-day tour highlighting the monastery, or join a full-day tour with stops at the historic Zigana Pass and Karaca Cave. These tours also include pick-up from your hotel or the rendezvous spot.

Both tours will take you into the national park and allow a couple of hours to explore the monastery.

However, the full-day tour heads you to Zigana Pass, a staple route on the old Silk Road. The tour next proceeds to Karaca Cave, known for its magnificent stalactites, stalagmites, and travertines.

  • Duration: Tours are available in half-day or full-day lengths.
  • Tour type: Small groups of up to 15 people. Private tours can also be booked.
  • Excludes: Fees for museums and attractions, lunch, park shuttle charges
  • Cost: Around $50, depending on the tour. Budget an extra 150 Turkish Lira for fees and shuttle rides. Private tours will be more expensive.

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