Well placed on the historic Silk Road, Trabzon was a major trade center for centuries, attracting travelers and influenced by many religions, languages, and cultures. Hagia Sophia is a striking Byzantine church similarly influenced, having morphed into a mosque, and later a museum, where impressive frescoes still decorate its walls. Perched dramatically on a narrow ledge of a sheer cliff in the nearby forest, is the rock-hewn Sümela Monastery, where according to legend two Athenian priests found a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave. The cave became a Rock Church, and the monastery grew around it, expanding over the centuries.
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