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The Monastery of Saint John Vazelon, otherwise known as Vazelon Monastery is the oldest monastery of Pontus and named in memory of Saint John the Forerunner (Gr: Αγίου Ιωάννου Προδρόμου). It was built in 270 AD in the Maçka region of Turkey close to the Sakhnoi and Kounaka villages 40 km south of Trabzon beside the Pritani river. In earlier times it was called Zavoulon however it was later named Vazelon

The monastery was attacked and ruined many times by regional enemies mainly the Persians and the Turks. In 490 AD it was attacked and ruined by Persians who also killed the 400 monks of the monastery. During Ottoman rule (1453-1922) the monastery was ruined many times and in 1922 was totally destroyed leaving it in it's current state.      

In 1821, Chrysanthos, the Prior of the monastery was able to avoid a general massacre of the 40 surrounding Christian villages via diplomatic means by the use of the monastery's enormous wealth. Of the monastery's rich archives only one item was saved and is now located at the Leningrad Museum. Following it's final destruction in 1922, the monastery's last monk Dionysios Amarantidis, saved the icon of Saint John the Forerunner which he transported and guarded at the monastery of Agia Triada in Serres, Greece.

Source: The Encyclopaedia of Pontian Hellenism

Vazelon Monastery, July 2014. Photo: Ingo Leonard.