In the Black Sea province of Trabzon, the Sumela Monastery has finally re-opened to visitors after undergoing a 5-year restoration project in Turkey. The monastery is also referred to as Mother Mary, or Virgin Mary, and is carved from rocks in a wooded slope of Mt. Karadag in Macka which sits 984 foot (300 metres) above the Altindere Valley.
Potential for added tourism revenue
Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the minister of Culture and Tourism announced after the opening that: “Last year we ended the season with approximately 16 million tourists and 12 billion USD in revenue.” He went on to say that: “I think we will end this year with 25 million tourists and over 20 billion USD in revenue if there is no serious change in conditions and a (corona)virus wave does not come again.”
According to Ersoy, the monastery was partially opened in 2019 and this was because it is such a huge draw for tourism within the country. In various parts of the monastery there are some incredibly important frescoes, and this is probably why colouring and revitalisation works continue in these particular areas.
The cost of the restoration
The restoration began on this fabulous monastery complex and according to the Province Culture and Tourism Directorate, the work was undertaken in two separate phases with a total cost of about 57 million Turkish Lira (6.53 million USD). The cost covers landscaping, investigation, and strengthening of the geotechnical and geological maintenance of the rocks.
The restoration and UNESCO status
Following an 88-year hiatus, the Culture and Tourism Ministry gave permission for the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon to re-open for religion practise on August 15, 2010. The Monastery has also been included in UNESCO’s list of temporary World Heritage sites around the world.
The Sumela Monastery closed in 2015 due to there being a risk of rocks falling from Mt. Karadog. As the country’s most important religious tourism centre the monastery was partly re-opened to visitors in May 2019 before finally completely re-opening in 2021.
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