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The Monastery of Saint John of Vazelon

Turkey, Fatih (Istanbul)

The Monastery of Saint John of Vazelon

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The Monastery of Vazelon (Μονή Βαζελώνος) is or the Monastery of Ioannes Prodromos (Αγίου Ιωάννου Προδρόμου) a ruin located in the Black  Sea region of Turkey, which had been regarded as a center of Greek Orthodox life in Maçka area, retaining some control over surrounding villages until  its disestablishment. Today, the monastery is accepted one of the most important historical sites of great significance in Trabzon, in this light, the  remains of complex has been under the restoration plan since 2020 in order to boost the faith tourism.

According to the tradition, the monastery was founded founded in 270 or in 317 which makes it the first Pontic monastery. After the division of the  Roman Empire, Vazelon became a part of Byzantine Empire. The monastery was attacked and ruined on numerous occasions by invading forces such  as Sassanids in the 6th century. Byzantine emperors financed the monastery as well as allowed Vazelon to expand. After the Sack of Constantinople,  Pontus became a part of the Empire of Trebizond, furthermore, Trapezuntine emperors continually funded Vazelon throughout the Middle Ages. The  monastery, along with the other Pontic monasteries, was handsomely endowed by the emperors. During the Ottoman Era and into the World War I,  Vazelon continued to perform its religious functions. However, the Russian occupation of Trabzon from 1916 to 1917 resulted by the seizure of a  respective number of monastic archives to St. Petersburg. In the beginning of 20th century, Vazelon was abandoned by its inhabitants because of first  the condition of war and later, due to the exchange of population between Greece and Turkey which took place in 1923. After the exchange of  population, Dionysios Amarantidis tranferred the icon of Ioannes Prodromos to the monastery of Agia Triada in Serres, Greece. The monastic complex  was seriously damaged by treasure hunters, or pillagers. The Turkish authorities started restorations in 2020 as a part of religious and spiritual tourism.


Vazelon Monastery is a multi-story stone structure as it was improved and updated from the time of its building to the time of its abandonment in  1923. The body of the monastery is made from lime mortar, and local stone, possibly granite. Outside walls are thicker than those separating interior  rooms. Wood makes up the roof and floors; much of this has disappeared over time. The monastery has four stories, including a variety of rooms.  Vazelon Monastery once housed a dining hall, a kitchen, and a cistern for collecting water. The monastery was once accessed by a hanging wooden  ladder, which was brought inside at night to prevent trespassing. This was removed in the 1800s. Vazelon’s wooden stairs were replaced with stone  stairs around the same time.

The monastery contains two chapels. Atop the monastery lies one church built into a cave. At one point, this church housed a bell tower. The other  chapel stands about 30 m (98 ft) north of the main monastic complex. Chrysanthos who was the metropolitan bishop of Trebizond during the early  1900s, identified the chapel. He read existing texts on Vazelon Monastery and decided that the chapel had been dedicated to Elias, therefore, the  building, named «St. Elias» in medieval sources, may date to 1219.

Many of the historic frescoes in Vazelon Monastery remain to this day. One ceiling displays the image of baby Jesus in a cradle. Other frescoes depict  the Last Judgement, Heaven, and Hell. The separate chapel dedicated to Elias also holds many paintings of Christian religious figures. The monastery has fallen into disrepair after years of abandonment, treasure hunting, and vandalism. Many historic frescoes have been picked away, and a bell tower  that once stood atop the monastery has disappeared.



Información de la localidad

The Monastery of Saint John of Vazelon
Other monuments and places to visitThe Bridge of Maçka, the Monastery of Soumela and the Monastery o Peristera (Kustul).
Natural Heritage
Historical Recreations
Festivals of Tourist Interest
Tourist Office
Specialized Guides
Guided visits
AccommodationsNo hostel near to the monastery. Hotel or bed and breakfast in the village of Kiremitler (6-8 min by walking), Maçka (30 min by car) or Trabzon (37 minutes by car).
RestaurantsMeseici Aile Oteli ve Restaurant (Bakımli, Köybasi Sokak, 61750 Maçka/Trabzon), Cizbiz Et Mangal ( Gürgenagaç,
Yukarı Küme Evleri No 2, 61750 Maçka/Trabzon).
BibliographyWilliam Miller, Trebizond: The last Greek Empire of the Byzantine Era: 1204-1461, Chicago: Argonaut, 1969.
Antonio Sagona, The Heritage of Eastern Turkey from Earliest Settlements to Islam, Macmillan, 2016
Anthony M. Bryer, The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos, ACLS Humanities, 2009.
Monument or place to visitThe Monastery of Vazelon (Μονή Βαζελώνος)
StyleRemains of Late Antique fourth century local masonry structures, later medieval as well as modern addictions.
TypeEnclosured monastic complex.
Epoch4th century – present.
State of conservationBad condition (Under restoration plans).
Degree of legal protection
Mailing addressVillage of Kiremitler, Maçka/Trabzon
Coordinates GPS40.76°N 39.53°E
Property, dependency
Possibility of visits by the general public or only specialists
Accessible to public visitors.
Conservation needs
Conservation need.
Visiting hours and conditions
Reaching to the monastery may be problematic due to the environmental obscurities.
Ticket amount
Research work in progress
There is no current restoration going on the site.
AccessibilityTo reach the entrance of the complex visitors will have to take a vehicle for transportation from Maçka to the village of Kiremitler,or registering for the tours for approximately 37 kilometers: cars are rarely admitted to themonastery entrance and this part of the route is not accessible by either cars or large tourist bus. The visitor has to walk for approximately 6-8 minutes.
Signaling if it is registered on the route
Not yet registered.
William Miller, Trebizond: The last Greek Empire of the Byzantine Era: 1204-1461, Chicago: Argonaut, 1969.
Antonio Sagona, The Heritage of Eastern Turkey from Earliest Settlements to Islam, Macmillan, 2016
Anthony M. Bryer, The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos, ACLS Humanities, 2009.
Information websiteswikipedia.org
LocationMountain Zaboulon, the Village of Kiremitler, Macka/Trabzon.