Sumela Monastery – Akarsu Köyü, Turkey - Atlas Obscura

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Sumela Monastery

Akarsu Köyü, Turkey

A Turkish monastery tucked into a cliff wall. 


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

The monastery was closed for renovation in 2015 and was reopened in May 2019. The site had half a million visitors in 2019, so it is essential to avoid the main season and weekends. It is open all year daily, the fee is TRL 10.

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