The entire Black Sea coast’s compulsory sight, 46km south of Trabzon, was among the most revered of pilgrim monasteries in the Orthodox world. According to tradition, two Athenian monks founded Sumela in 386 around a cave which housed a icon of the Virgin Mary painted by St Luke. Later, the Comneni patronized the monastery, some being coronated here. The present buildings were erected last century to accommodate all the pilgrims. This monastery has the spectacular setting. Within a national park, Sumela, usually shrouded in mist, clings to the sheer rock face of towering mountain, 300m above a forested valley floor.
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