A local mayor has launched initiatives to open the Sumela Monastery

Ertugrul Genc, the mayor of Trabzon's Macka town, said he was working to enable Christians celebrate their religious feasts at the Sumela Monastery.
"Our aim is to open Sumela Monastery to celebration of religious feasts of Christians and Orthodox people. This can be Christmas or Easter," Genc told AA correspondent.

Genc said the municipality had launched efforts to open the monastery to a religious mass in the Easter, and had met executives of the Turkish Culture & Tourism Ministry and Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I.

On August 15, 2009, the Sumela Monastery was opened to one-day religious mass.

Standing at the foot of a steep cliff facing the Altindere valley in Trabzon's Macka town, Sumela Monastery lies at an altitude of approximately 1,200 metres. Founded in the year 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375-395), legend has it that two priests undertook the founding of the monastery on the site after having discovered a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain.

The principal elements of the Monastery complex are the Rock Church, several chapels, kitchens, student rooms, a guesthouse, a library, and a sacred spring revered by Orthodox Greeks. The entrance to the Monastery leads up a long and narrow stairway.

The inner and outer walls of the Rock Church and the walls of the adjacent chapel are decorated with frescoes. The main subject of the frescoes are biblical scenes telling the story of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

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