Hezit Ilys, Turkey
The former Monastery of St George in Peristera can be reached from the village of Esiroglu (Yesirogu in the Maçka valley) which lies 28km/17mi south of Trabzon. A local guide is advisable and the walk will take at least three hours. This monastery and look-out post for Trabzon was built in the reign of Justinian (532). A famous collection of manuscripts was destroyed by a fire in 1906 and in 1923 the monks had to abandon the monastery.
About 5km/3mi south of Trabzon a steep track off the main Erzurum road leads to the Monastery of Kaymakli, where Armenian monks lived until 1923. The two-story building with an arcaded facade stands alongside the ruins of a bell-tower. In the vicinity two chapels can be found: one (1424) is now used as a hay barn and the other (1622) contains the remains of some paintings.
Kücük Konak, a village 46km/29mi south of Trabzon, is the starting point for a 10km/7mi walk to the Vazelon Monastery (St John of Vazelon) which is set on a rock high above the Degirmendere valley. It is one of the most important Pontic monasteries and was used by Justinian as a look-out post to warn of attacks from hostile mountain tribes. The monastery was linked with Trapezunt by a cobbled road (King's Road). The main building which has been altered many times stands in front of a cave. The nearby Chapel of St John (John the Baptist) which was built by Manuel III in 1410 contains the remains of some paintings.
The Sumela Monastery is set in a dramatically stunning location, built on a steep section near the base of a huge rock wall.
The main road from Trabzon to Erzurum and Erzincan, runs southwest through the Eastern Pontic Mountains and climbs the 2,030m/6,660ft Zigana pass. It was perhaps on a mound near here (about an hour's walk) that Xenophon and his Ten Thousand caught their first glimpses of the Black Sea ("Thalatta!").
Map of Trabzon Attractions