The 1000-year-old Monastery of the Virgin Mary atSumela is among the most impressive sights of Turkey’s Black Sea coast.
The excursion to Sumela is best done as a half-day excursion from Trabzon, 47 km (29 miles, 1 hour) south of Trabzon (map).
The monastery’s alpine setting, clinging to a sheer rock cliff in the midst of evergreen forests loud with the splash of chill mountain streams, comes as a surprise for those who think of Turkey as a land of rolling steppe. The land around the monastery is now preserved as Altındere National Park.
It’s a 1-km (6/10 mile), 35 to 45-minute hike uphillfrom the parking lot to the monastery entrance. You rise 250 meters (820 feet) in the climb.
To avoid the crowds, arrive early in the morning— particularly if you want good photographs—and avoid summer weekends when the crowds can be intense.
Bring a picnic lunch to eat at one of the tables next to the vigorously splashing brook, or buy snacks from a vendor.
Distances & Travel Times
Trabzon: 46 km (29 miles) N, 45 minutes
—by Tom Brosnahan
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