Founded in 386 AD, the Sumela Monastery or the “Virgin Mary” as it is popularly known, is a large complex situated in a cliff 1200 meters above the surrounding Turkish forest. Ruined and repaired numerous times over its 1800 years, the monastery, despite being an Athenian Christian order, was protected by the Ottoman emperor Mehmed II and his successors. Today the monastery is little used by monks, but is a popular attraction and is undergoing restoration by the Turkish government.
Know Before You Go
As of August 2017, the monastery was closed for reconstruction. According to their official site, the monastery was supposed to have reopened in September 2016, but a new date hasn’t been set. Check before going there. You can still walk to an observation platform to see it from the distance, but low clouds can sometimes block the view.