The name Sumela is an abbreviated corruption of the Greek Panayia tou Melas meaning Monastery of the Black Virgin. In 385 a monk called Barnabas arrived with the famous icon of the Virgin painted by the apostle Luke, and after a visitation he placed the icon on a shrine in a cave high up a sheer cliff face. The monastery developed on this spot in the 6th century, with more additions in the 13th and 14th centuries. In Byzantine times, the Comneni emperors from Trebizond held their coronations here rather than in Constantinople. The Orthodox priests only left in 1923, under the exchange of populations agreed in the Treaty of Lausanne, taking their icon with them. What they couldn't take, however, were all the incredible frescos that cover the walls. The walk up to Sumela follows a pleasantly shaded zigzagging path.