Situated in a very beautiful and natural setting, Sumela Monastery built in the 14th century is nestled into the side of rocks in a famous valley in Maçka district, only 50 kilometers away from Trabzon. The setting is 1200 meters above the sea level.
Two Greek monks, Barnaby and Sophronios, started to build the original building. The 7th century Icon apparently painted by an anonymous Trabizond (Trabzon) artist became the symbol of the monastery.
Some say that the name "Sumela" comes from the Greek word "melas" which means "black" and it refers to the characteristic dark color of this icon. But others say that "Melas is the name of the mountain above the monastery, "sou" in the Pontian Greek dialect means "at the", so Sumela (Sou + Mela) means "at the Melas (mountain).
The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin and the large monastery complex had 5 floors and a total of 72 rooms. The upper floor was used as a gallery and a lookout post. The whole building was full of frescoes and the wall paintings. The large part of the building was hewn out of the rock. It stands in front of a beautiful valley scenery and sharp rocky mountains behind.
Today there is a tiny road to the Monastery which you can walk uphill or take a van, after which you have to walk a path and climb some steps to reach the building.