Profanation: Turkey turns famous cliffside monastery into dance club for advertisement

Trabzon, Turkey, February 7, 2022

Panagia Sumela Monastery. Photo: Panagia Sumela Monastery. Photo:     

Orthodox Christians are outraged at a new advertisement that shows the famous Panagia Sumela Monastery in Turkey being used as a dance club.

A clip from the making of the ad shows a DJ playing loud electronic music in the monastery courtyard with people dancing. The same courtyard is the site of the Divine Liturgy celebrated annually on the feast of the Dormition.

The makers of the clip say the ad, intended to promote the monastery as a tourist attraction, was made with permission of the Turkish authorities, according to Greek Reporter.

“Many comments in social media speak of desecration of the historic monastery as along the music, church bells can be heard in the background. Some even demanded explanations from Turkish authorities, as the holy monastery had essentially turned into a nightclub,” the outlet reports.

The monastery, believed to have been built in the 4th century under Emperor St. Theodosius I, is currently a candidate for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), Chairman of the Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations, offered comments on the sad event:

It was with great concern that we saw the magnificent Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the Chora Monastery with its famous frescoes deprived of museum status and actually closed for Christians in 2020. These holy sites as museums were places of world pilgrimage and served as a symbol of mutual respect and understanding between the two world religions. At present, these holy sites common to all Christians are de facto inaccessible to them.

Today, religious peace in the country has been frustrated again, as local authorities permitted a disco at the main historic holy site of Pontic Greeks—the Panagia Sumela Monastery in the Trabzon Province. They say it was done to attract tourists. I’m convinced that Russian tourists, who make up the majority in Turkey, would never consent to such a cynical trampling upon a Christian holy site. In Russia, this kind of attitude to a church or a mosque would entail punishment for the offenders. It’s good to see that at least the locals and representatives of the tourist trade are protesting what happened.

At one time, the Russian Orthodox Church had done a lot to make this once glorious monastery accessible to pilgrims and to make it possible to celebrate annual divine services there. We categorically protest the profanation of Orthodox holy sites in Turkey and hope that its state leadership would will turn a blind eye to this outrage, especially in light of the strengthening Russian-Turkish relations.


For centuries, the cliff-side monastery in the Black Sea city served as the cradle of Pontian Hellenism. After 88 years of banning access to the site, Turkey reopened it on August 15, 2010, and a new tradition of Patriarch Bartholomew celebrating the monastery’s patronal feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos there began. However, the monastery was closed for restoration in February 2016, and the Patriarch was not permitted to serve throughout the restoration process, which mostly addressed the stability of the cliff.

It was reopened in July 2020, and the Divine Liturgy was celebrated again on Dormition that year.

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Theodoros2/9/2022 1:30 am
To Michael, Archbishop Elpidophoros appeared at the Turkish mission in NY with Erdogan and the leaders of the occupied part of Cyprus. I would be surprised if he and his Patriarch have not blessed the Turkish military against Greece and Cyprus. These two have no moral principles of any kind. They want to impose themselves over all Orthodox and they are prepared to work with any regime anywhere to undermine the Russians because only the Russian Church can stop them.
Michael 2/8/2022 12:14 am
Incredibly sad to read but aren’t these Turks the good friends of Bart and Elpi? Didn’t they bless the tanks that occupy and have occupied Cyprus? The Ecumenical Patriarch is reaping what he has sown. Poisonous fruit.
John McGee2/7/2022 11:05 pm
BLASPHEMY.....SIMPLY BLASPHEMY! if we turned a mosque into a strip club.....we would hear automatic condemnation from every lefty throughout the world, and every world leader
Theodoros2/7/2022 11:02 pm
To common sense, Patriarch Bartholomew was being assisted by the Russians who served the liturgy with him at this monastery for the feast of the dormition in 2010. It is a tragedy that Patriarch Bartholomew has decided That his power matters more than Orthodox unity does. The desecration of this monastery by the Turks is an outrage but the Turks are Muslims. The distortion of Orthodox faith and ecclesiology by a Patriarch is bigger outrage. The Patriarch should deal with his problems in Turkey and he can begin by repenting for supporting the fake bishops in Ukraine and When he humble apologizes to all Orthodox Churches and breaks with the State Department then he will be in a Better position to defend his holy sites from the Turks.
Common Sense2/7/2022 7:37 pm
Theodoros, What is this you're going on about? Do you just blame every inconvenience or disturbance on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew? There is no "distortion of Orthodox ecclesiology" here.
Alexander Leitner2/7/2022 7:02 pm
I can hardly read this! Our Most Holy Panagia and Her Holy Shrine! Such horrible blasphemy.
Theodoros2/7/2022 3:46 pm
When this monastery reopened for worship in 2010, Russian bishops and faithful were present worshipping with Patriarch Bartholomew. It is indicative of how ungrateful and selfish Patriarch Bartholomew is for the support the Russians gave him. The Russians were more vocal in condemning the church Of Hagia sophias conversion into a mosque than the Patriarch Bartholomew was. The Phanar cares only for personal power. As much as I care about the holy places in Constantinople and Asia Minor, I believe the distortion of Orthodox ecclesiology Is more serious and needs to be addressed as the top priority by the Orthodox Church.
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