Travelogue

Saffron and Sumela Monasteries

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Deyrulzafaran monastery, also called Mor Hananyo or Saffron monastery, is seldom mentioned in mainstream tourism for Turkey but it is a must see while in the Mardin region. Dayro d-Mor Hananyo was founded in 493 by Mor Shlemon on the site of a sun worship temple that was converted into a citadel by the Romans. After the Romans withdrew from the fortress, Mor Shlemon was transformed it into a monastery. The monastery was the patriarch seat for the church until 1932. The name, Saffron Monastery comes from the saffron grown around and as a result, the warm colour of the building. The Monastery has 365 rooms for each day and offers lodging for visitors. The Sumela Monastery was founded in 397 in eastern Anatolia by the monks Samuel and Simon; this monastery has been the heart of the Orthodox Syrian community for centuries. Nestled in a steep cliff at an altitude of about 1,200 metres, it is facing the impressive Altındere valley, a site of historical and cultural significance in Altındere National Park. Looking at its unaccesible walls it is not surprisingly that the Mongolians failed to destroy it 700 years ago despite the massacre of 40 friars and 400 Christians. Although the monastery is situated in an area at the centre of conflicts between Kurdish separatist with the armed PKK group and the Turkish army, Mor Gabriel welcomes 20,000 pilgrims every year. The very impressive aqueduct at the entrance to the monastery supplied water to the Monastery; many of the arches have been carefully restored.

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