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The Monastery of Virgin Mary

Turkey, Sebinkarahisar (Giresun)

The Monastery of Virgin Mary

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The Virgin Mary Monastery (Turkish: Meryem Ana Manastırı) is a ruined monastery in the Giresun Province of Turkey. Built into a cave in the Pontic  Mountains, the monastery sits high above ground, up a steep flight of stairs. The four-story building contains a dining room, church, rooms for the  monks, and a classroom. The Virgin Mary Monastery dates back to at least the Byzantine period. It resembles the famous Sumela Monastery, which  Turkish sources estimate was completed in the late 5th century.

Hulusi Güleç, the director of culture and tourism in Giresun, says the monastery was first used during Roman occupation of Anatolia. According to him,  early Christians secretly practiced within the monastery during the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Virgin Mary Monastery lies in the  borders of Şebinkarahisar District, a subdivision of Giresun Province. In the 1880s, the area around Şebinkarahisar had a little over 8,000 Pontian  Greeks. Every year between the 26th and 28th of August, Greeks from nearby visited the monastery to celebrate and worship.

However, the Greek/Turkish population exchange severely decreased the Pontian Greek presence in the region. The 1939 Erzincan earthquake made  the abandoned monastery inaccessible, after which it fell into great disrepair. In the early 2010s, the four-story monastery underwent restoration work.  This was an effort to make the monastery into a tourist attraction, especially while Sumela Monastery, another tourist draw, was closed for repairs.

Both Anadolu Agency, a state-run Turkish news source, and an independently run paper report that the monastery has recently attracted the Pontian  Greek diaspora. Forty residents of Kavala, Greece, descendants of Pontians forced out of Şebinkarahisar during the population exchange, visited Virgin  Mary Monastery in 2015 as well as Patriarch Bartholomew.


Although the first foundation of the Virgin Mary Monastery is written as the middle ages (481 – 490 years) in the sources, it is understood that it was  burned in the 19th century and was completely destroyed and completely renovated. The monastery units are scattered on the sloping land between  the southeast of the village center and the steep cliffs where the monastery is located. There is a Jewish cemetery (mashatlik), a chapel (small church),  a cistern (ayazma), a fountain, and a water tank, as well as a reception hall (room) on the monastery route in the main location.

The monastery building, which was built into the hollow of monolithic natural rock, consists of four levels. At the first level, there is the entrance section  with a low round-arched opening built of smooth chipped stones, which is reached by stairs. Based on the evacuation chutes of the units here, it is  understood that there are sections such as a bathroom, toilet, and laundry. The second level is entered by a round-arched door. This level forms the  central part of the Monastery. As it is understood from the remaining traces, there is a kitchen section consisting of a stove and an oven in this section.  The dining hall is accessed through the opening on the north wall of the kitchen. There is a storage room under the dining room. To the north of the  central space, there is the manager-cominos room. The third level is reached by stairs passing through a round-arched opening to the east of the  central section. In this section, there is a large terrace and cells to the north of the terrace. These cells are places for monks to rest and seclude  themelves. On the fourth level, there is a basilical planned church and a cloister. The church with three apses is quite plain in terms of decoration.



Información de la localidad

The Monastery of Virgin Mary
Other monuments and places to visitThe Museum of Giresun, Giresun Castle, Island of Giresun, Sebinkarahisar Castle.
Natural Heritage
Historical Recreations
Festivals of Tourist Interest
Tourist Office
Specialized Guides
Guided visits
AccommodationsHotel or bed and breakfast in Sebinkarahisar, several options from 3-star hotels to the pensions can be found around the area.
RestaurantsColonia Park Otel (Bülbül, Şehir Merkezi, Ptt Cd., 28400 Şebinkarahisar/Giresun), Karsi Bahçe Hotel (Tamzara, Giresun Cd. No:123/A, 28400 Saplica/Sebinkarahisar/Giresun)
Videos dailymotion.com
Monument or place to visitThe Monastery of Virgin Mary
StyleEarly Byzantine masonry.
TypeMonastic complex.
Epochc.5th century – present.
State of conservationGood condition.
Degree of legal protection
Mailing addressKayadibi, 28400 Sariyer/Sebinkarahisar/Giresun
Coordinates GPS40.27°N 38.50°E
Property, dependency
Possibility of visits by the general public or only specialists
Accessible to public visitors.
Conservation needs
Visiting hours and conditions
Ticket amount
Research work in progress
AccessibilityVisitors can rent a car to drive from Sebinkarahisar to Kayadibi (22 mins).
Signaling if it is registered on the route
Darke, Diane (1987). Guide to Eastern Turkey and the Black Sea Coast. London: Michael Haag.
Sinclair, Thomas Alan (1989). Eastern Turkey: An Architectural and Archaeological Survey. London: Pindar Press.
Smith, John. Restored Monastery Draws Tourists Exploring Pontic Greek Heritage, Greek Reporter, 11 July 2018, greekreporter.com
Winfield, David; June Wainwright (1962). "Some Byzantine Churches from the Pontus". Anatolian Studies. British Institute at Ankara. 12: 131–161.
Information websiteswikipedia.org
LocationKayadibi, 28400 Sariyer/Sebinkarahisar/Giresun