Day 2  September 1, 2010                                                    Day 03     Table of content for Eastern Turkey Tour Journal
Wednesday Istanbul - Fly to Trabzon
Submitted by  Barbara Cutshaw

Left Ayasofya Hotel early for a 7 AM flight to Trabzon on Turkish Airlines.  It started to rain and our bus from the terminal got lost and took us to the wrong plane.  Thus, the flight was delayed, but it was sunny and warm when we arrived  Cengiz  met us with the bus and we drove to the Sumela Monastery.  2 more Americans joined us for the day. They were from  the cruise ship which was in Trabzon just for the day. When we arrived at the parking place of the monastery, Meli pointed out the right spot to see the general view of the monastery which looked like was neither on earth nor in heaven. It was just hanging on the side of the cliff above the old trees. We got on a smaller van and started meandering our way up to  the top of the hill. Once we got off from the minibus, we still had quite a ways to walk to get to the grand looking buildings.

Before we started our short hike through the trees and roots of the plants that surrounded us, we had experienced three things. A local man, with an impressive mustache, was playing Kemence, a three string instrument. The sound and the rhythm required developing a taste for it, but he seemed to be very proud of his little recital. We saw the young women weaving silver threads into beads to be used for jewelry. Also, Meli wanted to introduce us to the local produce : the hazel nut!  The hike to the monastery took us around 15 minutes. Meli kept saying that this was not a typical Black Sea weather. It was hot and sunny. It was great for photography. Once we reached the monastery, there was a pleasant surprise. The tour groups had already left the site. We could look down to the entrance of the church and feel like it was only ours to enjoy.




 A short lecture on the history of the early times of Christianity made it clear why this monastery was here: The Christians who were subject to the Roman Persecution were showing a tremendous example of solidarity. After Christianity was accepted as the state religion of the Eastern Roman Empire, having no reason to feel threatened, the Christians had lost their sense of communal support. The Church Fathers had to find a way to recreate the solidarity and to strengthen the church identity. In the late 4th century A.D., they came here to contemplate to figure out what could be done. The hermit life spent in complete isolation on this Black Mountain did help the Church Fathers. They have decided that the best way they could reinstall the unity that church should stand for could be achieved if the members of the congregation were well educated. The monasteries were going to be established and educated monks were going to educate the church members. This was the beginning of the Monastic Era in the history of Christianity. In the 12th Century, when Trabzon became an important city of Christendom, Sumela Monastery was built on the sacred spot where monasticism for Anatolia was started


The church is decorated with frescoes of Jesus and the Virgin Mother. Meli had pointed out that the features of eyes and the nose on both
Jesus and Mary  were very similar to the features of the natives, defined eye brows and long nose.



A Turkish family  who was posing under the    frescoes 
became popular for all the photographers of  the church.

Adam and Eve Before and after they sinned
   Pleasure in heaven - Hard work on earth

Half of the group decided to walk down to the parking lot while  few of us took the van down. After lunch, we droved back to Trabzon.  Our next stop was Aya Sophia of Trabzon. When the Crusaders conquered Constantinople in 1204, the Byzantines moved their capital to Trabzon and built this city and the church.

                                                                                                         Day 03     Journal Day 01