TRABZON, Turkey 

Turkey will reopen Sumela Monastery in the Black Sea province of Trabzon to visitors on Thursday with its new sections after the completion of over five years of restoration work.

The restoration of the majestic monastery complex began in February 2016 and is completed in two phases after landscaping, investigation, and strengthening of the geological and geotechnical maintenance of rocks at a cost of around 57 million Turkish liras ($6.53 million).

The main church in the monastery, 10 chapels of different sizes, the holy spring, bell tower, library, two-story kitchen, fountain, administrative spaces, rooms where the monks stayed, and guest house are all restored, according to Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate.

Also known as Mother Mary or Virgin Mary, the monastery is carved out of rocks in a wooded area on the slope of Mt. Karadag in the town of Macka, 300 meters (984 fts) above the Altindere Valley.

Some of its sections, including the guest house, chapel, monk, hermitage rooms, and cellar will be opened to visitors for the first time after more than five years.

A team of 100 people, including five engineers, 30 industrial mountaineers, 55 technical personnel, and 10 restoration workers, took part in the renovation.

The monastery, which is included in UNESCO’s temporary list of World Heritage sites, was reopened for religious practice on Aug. 15, 2010, with permission from the Culture and Tourism Ministry, following an 88-year hiatus.

The country’s most important religious tourism center was closed in 2015 due to a risk of falling rocks from the nearby Mt. Karadag.

It was partly reopened to visitors in May 2019 after more than three years of restoration efforts.

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