…An Unknown Monastery…
Situated, literally, on a cliff face – a few miles away from Kayakoy – Afkule Monastery (which means “Tower of mercy” or “Tower of hope”) overlooks the Mediterranean sea.
It’s location is relatively unknown, considering its close proximity to Fethiye and it has an ostentatious position cut into the tall and prominent cliff face. On clear days the Greek island of Rhodes can be seen.
To get to the Tower of Hope, you have to go on a short, pretty woodland hike, passing through the sprouting wildflowers and ancient pine trees.
The Monastery, which was built in the 11th Century by an eccentric Monk was used until the 1920’s. The monk, called Ayios Elefterios discovered this far-off spot, and decided that it would be a brilliant place to worship God and pray. Soon after finding this location, he began constructing a monastery on a 10 square meter area right beside the steep slopes. It is said, that “Building of the monastery was his way of doing penance to God in utter solitude, and it cost him his whole lifetime”.
After the First World War though we he monastery became useless because the Greeks who worshipped at the Monastery were sent back to Greece because of the population exchange which occurred in 1923, as part of the Treaty of Laussane.
Nowadays, the Monastery seems to be little known except for the locals, who come for picnics and fires with their whole families.
The ancient Monastery is still standing strong though, clinging to the steep, high cliff face with steps still cut into the rock. Perhaps the incredible view and scenic walk are the reasons why the locals who do come enjoy this secluded place.
You approach the ruins from above and then scramble part of the way down to a wide ledge where you can take in the spectacular views. Following the track down, you come to the ruins. The ruins include cisterns , storerooms, cells (Monastery rooms), a wine cellar and possibly a vaulted tomb. One chapel, which is on the same level as the cells, still has painted frescoes which can still be seen faintly. The Monastery is located up some steps, which have been cut into the commanding cliff face and are accessible with care.
From the top of the Monastery, Rhodes can be through the slight mist. Incredibly, the Monastery has a balcony type structure which you have to climb through a small window to get onto, again, please take care when climbing!
Inside, frescoes can stil be seen on top of doorways, and even wooden beams are still apparent in the remaining arches.
Afkule Monastery makes for a wonderful weekend picnic place for all the family. It’s beautiful setting and brilliant walk make it completely worth while and not too much of an energetic hike is required.
To conclude, I’d certainly recommend Afkule Monastery as a brilliant day trip, this weekend, for those who enjoy historic adventures.