A rock-carved church believed to date back to the fourth century in the northern Black Sea province of Giresun has recently been opened to religious tourism. The Virgin Mary Church, lying near Giresun city center, has undergone a thorough restoration, and tourists can visit the church two days per week.
A landscaping project was also conducted to better present the church to visitors thanks to support from the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Hulusi Güleç, deputy head of the Provincial Culture and Tourism Department, said there are few rock-carved churches in Turkey. The restoration works on the church were completed in 2013, but the landscaping around the church is ongoing.
Güleç added that in the 1960s, the sea used to reach the church. "Sailors used to take fresh water with them from the fountain at the bottom of the church. It is said that sailors regularly visited the church to pray as well," he said.
Stressing that the Virgin Mary Church is a significant cultural heritage site, also he highlighted that the church is a rare site in the region considering its exceptional features, adding that more historical cultural heritage sites will add to the region's tourism. When the project is completed, the church will be open on both weekends and weekdays.