The Sümela Monastery, located on the foothills of the scenic Mela Mountain in the Maçka district of Turkey's Trabzon province, is preparing to welcome tourists in May after going through an extensive renovation process, the local tourism directorate said Sunday.
The historical monastery will open on May 18, after the completion of the first phase of renovations, Trabzon Culture and Tourism Director Ali Ayvazoğlu told Anadolu Agency.
Ayvazoğlu noted that the monastery attracts local and foreign tourists alike, even though it is undergoing renovations.
"The monastery will welcome tourists on May 18, which marks the museum week," Ayvazoğlu said.
Around 4,000 tons of rocks have been cleaned, the 300-meter walking trail has been reorganized and historical aqueducts, the building located on the monastery's entrance and the stairs leading to the monastery have been restored, Ayvazoğlu said, adding that they are currently preparing for the opening.
The second phase of the renovations, which has already started, is expected to be completed by 2020, Ayvazoğlu said.
The Sümela Monastery, which was registered on the Tentative World Heritage List of UNESCO in 2000, has sparked the interest of local and foreign tourists even while it has been closed for restoration and rehabilitation works. Tourists that come to the region can watch a 3D introduction to the monastery while visiting the Hagia Varvara Monastery, situated on the path going toward Sümela. They can also see Sümela Monastery from different angles from the observation terrace of the Hagia Varvara Monastery.
Welcoming over 600,000 visitors annually, Sümela is located in Trabzon's Maçka district, within the Pontic Mountains range, at an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,900 feet).