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Sümela Monastery


Based around rock church, this mountainside monastery is one of the great sites of the Black Sea, though it has taken quite a bashing from history. Founded by Athenean monks in AD 386, it was seized during the Russian occupation of 1916–18 and abandoned following the population exchange of 1923. Fire and vandalism followed, and the frescoes have suffered, so it was in a rather sorry, if still wildly dramatic state when Jeremy James visited for an article in Cornucopia 3, now a collector’s item. In 2010 the Orthodox liturgy was heard once more, but in 2015 the monastery closed for a year for essential repairs.


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