Sumela Monastery was built by taking the cave (the Rock Church) as the center. According to the legend, the Icon of Virgin Mary was found on the rocks in a cave by two monks from Athens and they built up a church to cover the cave.
The main parts of the Monastery are the Rock Church, kitchens, student rooms, chapels, library and the spring which is believed to be sacred by Orthodox Greeks.
Sumela Monastery is built on a steep cliff which has only one main entrance after numerous steps through a pathway. The ruins of the large aqueduct that once supplied water to the monastery can be seen at the side of the cliff at the entrance. The aqueduct used to have ten arches and now is being restored.
Next to the entrance is the guard-room. With a few steps down, you can reach the inner courtyard of the Monastery. On the left is the cave and the Rock Church, and the large building with a balcony on the front side of the cliff is dating from 1840 which consists of many cell-like rooms for monks and guest and a library to the right. Near the church there was a fountain to collect the sacred spring water from the mountain, which is partly ruined today.
Around the courtyard, there are also several chapels. These chapels are in very bad condition today, and they are mostly dilapidated but in one of these chapels murals on the walls can be seen which is considered to be dating from the 15th century.
When we look at the old photographs of Sumela Monastery, we see that some walls facing the courtyard had wooden balconies and porches which are now completely destroyed probably after the fire in 1930.
When looking at Sumela from a distance, an impressive building at the far end of the courtyard is seen which might be thought as the most important part of the monastery, however this impressive-looking building contiguous with the cliff was the monksâ€™ living area, which would not be the most important part of the building architecturally or artistically. It is a three-floor building with cellars. The building once was covered with a wooden roof with wide overhanging eaves which were destroyed by time. The tower on the front wall would offer breath-taking picture of the mountains and to feel the height of the structure. Sometimes the only thing one can see from this attitude would be white clouds and fog which adds the monastery a numinous and mystic atmosphere more than any other days.