Trabzon and the Sumela Monastery
Duration: 6 1/2 hours
Tour Code: tzx-001
Join us for a spectacular visit to the Sumela Monastery.
Officially known in Turkish as the Meryem Ana Manastiri, derived from the Greek Hagia Maria tou Mela (St. Maria of Mount Mela), the monastery looks as if it has been taken from heaven and pasted on the side of a mountain. No one has yet been able to answer the question of how man built such a huge monastery on the side of a mountain with the technology of the 6th century. From the bottom, the monastery looks as if it would be impossible to reach without divine guidance while from the top you may have an opportunity for some of the most gorgeous views anywhere. With eerie mists and forested background, Sumela is a truly magical sight. 14th-century additions gave it its final look, and today this ethereal structure is one of the most significant tourist attractions in all of Turkey. Vistors will have plenty of time to explore Sumela.
Following a visit to Sumela, guests will reboard the coach and return to the Seven Seas Navigator, for lunch served on board the ship.
After lunch, the tour continues with a visit to the country house of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic. Walk in the footsteps of this remarkable man, and appreciate the views of Trabzon from above, a landscape he once gazed across, keeping late hours, drinking raki, conversing with companions, and relaxing from the rigors of building a modern Turkish state.
From Ataturk's house you will visit the St. Sophia Museum, which was a church built by the Commenos family in the 13th century. St. Sophia was expanded by Emperor Manuel Paleologos VII in the same century, and then converted into a mosque in the 16th century. After looking around, you will see why this is the most important historical building in Trabzon, and was converted into a museum in 1957. Some beautiful, but faint frescoes are still visible inside this remarkable building.
From St. Sophia, the tour continues to Ortahisar Buyuk Fatih Mosque, or "The Golden Headed Mary Church", located in the Ortahisar district. This ancient Byzantine Church contains some of the most stunning examples of Ottoman ornamentation art. It is strange that the church's reputation is Ottoman, as its character is positively Byzantine, having been built in the 10th century, renovated in the following three centuries, and used for the crown ceremonies of Byzantine Emperors until the 15th century. However, in 1461 it was converted into a mosque after the Ottomans conquered the city of Trabzon, and so it stands today.
At the conclusion of the tour, guests will reboard the coach for the return drive to the pier.
Please note: Trabzon is a remote city that has limited facilities. Guests are encouraged to wear comfortable, rubber soled and enclosed walking shoes for this tour which involves extensive walking and many steep steps at the entrance of the Sumela Monastery. This tour is not recommended for guests with limited mobility or for guests who utilize a wheelchair. Guests are strongly encouraged to wear proper attire for an interior visit to the Monastery and are further encouraged to wear clothing that covers the shoulders and knees.