Photographer's Note

The Sumela Monastery is reached by means of a steep path through the forest. Its entrance was evidently designed with security in mind and final access to the building was via a long, narrow flight of steps.
It is said that “Sumela” (the Greek name of this monastery, founded in the name the Virgin Mary), comes from the word “melas”, which means “dark” or “black”. Many consider that this stems from the dark hues of the mountain valley in which the Monastery is situated. However, in the opinion of the author the word “sumela” could be an adjective used to refer to the icon of the Virgin Mary. The colour of the icon, which is so dark that it could be described as black, was one of the things that struck the eminent historian J.P Fallmerayer (1790-1861) when he visited the Monastery in 1840 and could well be the origin of the name. It is known that l2th century Georgian art produced a number of icons of the Virgin Mary known as Black Madonnas, and these icons found their way into a number of monasteries. Black was used in order to emphasise the mysterious expression on the Virgin's face. It is also considered that the origins of this Georgian style could be traced to ancient Indian art. If the close proximity of the Sumela Monastery to the Caucasus is considered, then it would be reasonable to assume that this icon is a Black Madonna from which the Sumela Monastery gained its name. Thus, the mountain also became known as Oros Mela (Kara Dağ) because of the Monastery.

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Additional Photos by Koray Mutlu (koray) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 120 W: 56 N: 87] (607)
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