Kaymaklı Armenian Monastery (Amenaprgic Vank) in Trabzon

Kaymaklı Armenian Monastery is an ancient Armenian religious complex, located on a remote hill in the suburbs of Trabzon Province, Turkey.

What you’ll find in this article

  • Kaymaklı Monastery
  • Frescoes on the walls of the main church
  • Before (1913) / After (2021)
  • Find the door of the main church closed? Here’s what to do.
  • Where is Kaymaklı Monastery?

If you want to go off the beaten path in Trabzon and explore the lesser-known sites of the city, then Kaymaklı Monastery is definetely a great site to visit. Located 5 km (13 minute driving distance) away from the city center, Kaymaklı Monastery is one of the most important, yet largely unknown religious sites in the Black Sea region.

View of Trabzon from Boz Hill, where the Kaymaklı Monastery is located

Kaymaklı Monastery

The Armenian name of the monastery, “Amenaprgic Vank” (Ամենափրկիչ Վանք), translates to “Monastery of the All-Saviour”.

The monastery has 3 main parts: a chapel, a church and old rooms. There had also been a bell tower (which you can see in “Before / After” section further below) . However, it has since collapsed.

It is not known exactly when Kaymaklı Monastery was built. In the previous centuries, Kaymaklı Monastery had been an important center for Armenian manuscript production.

The original wooden roof of the monastery had collapsed in the early 20th century. After a small-scale restoration, a metal platform was installed on the roof of the monastery which can be seen today.

To read more about the history of the monastery, you can refer to the Wikipedia page.

Main Church

The main church is the biggest and most impressive of all structures of the monastery. Even though considerable parts of the frescoes have not survived, you’ll still see a good number of biblical depictions in the wall paintings covering the walls of the structure.

Here, take your time and slowly glance at the marvelous paintings of saints, angels and holy scenes. This is truly a fascinating art.

The frescoes are dated back to the 17th-18th centuries. The ones closer to the ground have been heavily damaged by the locals, treasure hunters and naturel elements. However, the ones that are above the ground are relatively better preserved.

Although it is not known exactly when the main church was built, it is presumed to have been constructed around the 15th century, on the ruins of a 12th-13th century Greek church.

There are no signboards giving information about the church. However, inside the structure, you’ll see some translations of the Armenian inscriptions on plaques on the walls and above the door.

Biblical scenes on the walls above the entrance to the church (photo by Gurdeep Mattu)

Chapel

This small chapel behind the church is the oldest structure of the Kaymaklı Monastery complex. The inscriptions embedded above the gate alludes that this small chapel was built in 1424 by Hodja Stephanos Shemsedli.

The chapel is heavily dilapidated. It is a miracle that the inscriptions remained legible. (photo by Gurdeep Mattu)

Rooms where priests lived

The old rooms where priests supposedly lived are in ruins. Also the doors to these ruins are locked with a padlock, so it is not possible to visit them. I think the residents of the houses around the main church use this place as storage rooms

Rooms where priests lived. (photo by Gurdeep Mattu)
There are a few houses built around the main church and on the ruins of the parts of the Kaymaklı Monastery (photo by Gurdeep Mattu)

BONUS-Underground rooms

There is another impressive site within the monastery that no one really knows of. Right before you arrive to the monastery, on the right side of the asphalt road, there is a narrow entrance to the underground rooms of the monastery.

When I went inside, there were a couple of holes dug by the treasure hunters, which is an illegal activity. Also the tunnel that stands right across the entrance is blocked.

Frescoes on the walls of the church

Before (1913) / After (2021)

Door of the main church is closed? Here’s what to do

When I went to the church, the door was closed. But this not a problem at all. All you have to do is to put your hand through the gap on the right side of the door, reach the lock from inside and pull the string towards left that opens the lock. It is just like accessing a banned webpage via VPN 🙂

Where is Kaymaklı Monastery?

The road leading up to the monastery is asphalt and, therefore, in good condition. However, it can get quite narrow and uphill in some parts.

Once you reach the monastery, you can park your car comfortably on the plain ground in front of the structure.

Check out my Trabzon Vlog on YouTube @ArgunKonuk



Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences in different parts of the world!

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