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The historic Soumela Monastery in Pontus, has come under intense vandalism despite the site being included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Many of the icons and murals in the historic monastery have been vandalised so destructively, that many of the faces painted are no longer visible.

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The historic Soumela Monastery in Matzouka (Ματζούκα, Turkish: Maçka) in the Pontus region was closed in 2015 due to so-called restoration work.

At the time it was said that it would be temporarily closed for a year but due to the repair works it did not open for 5 years, according to the official story.

After a long recovery period, the monastery reopened on July 28 and began to receive visitors. However, those who visited the monastery, which dates back to the 13th century, shared photos on social media with the destruction they saw there.

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Visitors saw that all the faces of the murals that one could reach were scribbled over. In addition, some murals have been completely engraved, while others have names written on them.

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Only the faces of the frescoes on the ceiling of the monastery remained intact.

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A Twitter user claimed responsibility for the damage to the murals, writing “I confess I have taken on this sacred duty,” according to Turkish media.

This Greek Orthodox monastery and ecclesiastical complex located at 1,150 meters above sea level and 300 meters from the valley has existed since the 13th century. It was founded in 1204 by the Komnenian principality of Trapezounta (Τραπεζούντα, Turkish: Trabzon).

The monastery which is the most important pilgrimage for the Greeks of the Black Sea, is famous for its sanctification and annually receives hundreds of thousands of visitors.