The Sumela Monastery

Monasteries tend to be in out of the way and high places, for example check out the monasteries on bluffs in Meteora in Greece.  But Turkey has its own high altitude monastery which gives new meaning to the phrase high church.  Hanging off a high Turkish mountain and far from the madding crowd is the famous Sumela monastery which  Mark and I visited.   Here are two signs which explain the story of this monastery.  Like many such tales, this is a sad one, as it is now a museum visited by scores of tourists, not an active monastery.

One of the first things one sees is in fact the aqueduct which was built to bring water into the monastery hanging on a cliff. The walk up to the monastery can be called the upward call of God in truth.

For the really dedicated there is also a large hotel hanging on the side of the mountain where one can stay and have a little mountain vacation complete with holy site to visit. The final climb up to the monastery not only involves steep stairs but a door carved out of the mountain itself which one must pass through to get to the monastery.   Even before then there were natural wonders to see such as this waterfall—

We had to deal with rain and fog in the valley next to the mountain and here is a rather amazing picture of the fog coming down the mountain from the monastery while pilgrims walk up the path—

If ever there was an illustration of the Biblical principle that the tree does not support the root but rather the roots support the tree, here it is to the left.

The monastery seems to have been literally carved out of the mountain in stages as the picture to the left attests. 

One of the lessons one learns from visiting this monastery is whereas humans are very capable of creating what is true and beautiful,  God is the greatest artist of all as this beautiful waterfall attests.  Sumela monastery is one of those places which if you can’t get inspired here, you are incapable of inspiration.


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