Monasteries in Georgia

Jvari Monastery

Jvari is a sixth century Georgian Orthodox monastery near Mtskheta. Along with other historic structures of Mtskheta, it is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It stands on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, overlooking the town of Mtskheta. According to traditional accounts, on this location in the early 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with co ...
Founded: 590-605 AD | Location: Mtskheta, Georgia

Gelati Monastery

Gelati is a medieval monastic complex near Kutaisi. A masterpiece of the Georgian Golden Age, Gelati is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Gelati Monastery was built in 1106 by King David IV of Georgia. It was constructed during the Byzantine empire, during which christianity was the ruling religion throughout the empire. The main church was completed in 1130 in the reign of his son and successor ...
Founded: 1106 | Location: Kutaisi, Georgia

Vardzia Cave Monastery

Vardzia is a cave monastery site excavated from the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain on the left bank of the Kura River. The caves stretch along the cliff for some five hundred meters and in up to nineteen tiers. Vardzia was inhabited during the Bronze Age and indicated the reach of Trialeti culture. Four distinct building phases have been identified at Vardzia. The first was during the reign of Giorgi III (1156- ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tmogvi, Georgia

David Gareja Monastery

David Gareja is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face. Part of the complex is located in the Agstafa rayon of Azerbaijan and has become subject to a border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan. The area is also home to protected anim ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Rustavi, Georgia

Samtavro Monastery

Samtavro Transfiguration Orthodox Church and Nunnery of St. Nino in Mtskheta, Georgia, were built in the 4th century by King Mirian III of Iberia. The church was reconstructed in the 11th century by King George I and Catholicos-Patriarch Melkisedek. The famous Georgian Saint monk Gabriel is buried in the yard of Samtavro Church. Samtavro is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historical Monuments of Mts ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mtskheta, Georgia

Sapara Monastery

Sapara Monastery has existed from at least the 9th century, and has numbered among its monks many important figures in Georgian ecclesiastical history. At the end of the 13th century Sapara became a possession of the Jakeli family, whose leader, Sargis Jakeli, was adept at staying on good terms with the Mongols, which enabled Samtskhe to enjoy a peace unusual for the time. When he grew old, Sargis took monastic orders ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Akhaltsikhe, Georgia

Zarzma Monastery

The Zarzma monastery is nested in the forested river valley of Kvabliani in the Adigeni municipality, 30 km west of the city of Akhaltsikhe. It is the complex of a series of buildings dominated by a domed church and a belfry, one of the largest in Georgia. The earliest church on the site was probably built in the 8th century, by the monk Serapion whose life is related in the hagiographic novel by Basil of Zarzma. Ac ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Zarzma, Georgia

Alaverdi Monastery

Alaverdi Monastery is a Georgian Eastern Orthodox monastery located 25 km from Akhmeta. While parts of the monastery date back to 6th century, the present day cathedral was built in the 11th century by Kvirike III of Kakheti, replacing an older church of St. George. The monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, then a small village and former paga ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Akhmeta, Georgia

Bodbe Monastery

The Monastery of St. Nino at Bodbe is a Georgian Orthodox monastic complex and the seat of the Bishops of Bodbe. Originally built in the 9th century, it has been significantly remodeled, especially in the 17th century. The monastery now functions as a nunnery and is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Georgia, due to its association with St. Nino, the 4th-century female evangelist of Georgians, whose relics ar ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Sighnaghi, Georgia

Ikalto Monastery

Ikalto monastery was founded by Saint Zenon, one of the 13 Syrian Fathers, in the late 6th century. It was known as one of the most significant cultural-scholastic centres of Georgia. An academy was founded at the monastery during king David the Builder by Arsen Ikaltoeli (Ikaltoeli meaning from Ikalto) in the early 12th century. The Academy of Ikalto trained its students in theology, rhetoric, astronomy, philoso ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Ikalto, Georgia

New Athos Monastery

New Athos Monastery is a monastery in Akhali Atoni (New Athos), in a breakaway republic of Abkhazia, founded in 1875 by monks who came from the St. Panteleimon Monastery in Mount Athos. They founded the church of St. Panteleimon on Mount Iveria, on the territory of present New Athos. Construction works of the monastery were carried out in 1883-1896 as well. In the centre of the west building bell-tower 50 metres hi ...
Founded: 1875 | Location: Akhali Atoni, Georgia

Kintsvisi Monastery

The Kintsvisi Monastery complex consists of three churches, of uncertain origin. The central (main) central church dedicated to St Nicholas is thought to date to the early 13th century, in what is generally regarded as the Georgian Golden Age. A very small chapel standing next to it is dedicated to St George, and dates from around the same time. The oldest church, dedicated to St Mary dates from the 10-11th centurie ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Georgia, Georgia

Vanis Kvabebi Cave Monastery

Vanis Kvabebi is a cave monastery in Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia near Aspindza town and the more famous cave city of Vardzia. The complex dates from 8th century and consists of a defensive wall built in 1204 and a maze of tunnels running on several levels in the side of the mountain. There are also two churches in the complex. A newer stone church that is in quite good shape stands near the top of the w ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Aspindza, Georgia

Betania Monastery

The Betania Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a remarkable piece of architecture of the 'Golden Age' of the Kingdom of Georgia, at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries, and is notable for its wall paintings which include a group portrait of the contemporary Georgian monarchs. The history of the monastery is poorly recorded in Georgian historical tradition. It was a familial abbey of the Ho ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

Lurji Monastery

The Lurji Monastery is a 12th-century Georgian Orthodox church built in the name of Saint Andrew in the Vere neighborhood of Tbilisi. The popular historical name lurji ('blue') is derived from its roof, adorned with glazed blue tile. The original edifice of the Lurji Monastery was built in the 1180s, in the reign of Queen Tamar. It was a domed cross-in-square design, with a pair of dome-bearing colum ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

Shio-Mgvime Monastery

According to a historic tradition, the first monastic community at this place was founded by the 6th-century monk Shio, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers who came to Georgia as Christian missionaries. St. Shio is said to have spent his last years as a hermit in a deep cave near Mtskheta subsequently named Shiomghvime ('the Cave of Shio') after him. The earliest building – the Monastery of St. John the ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Mtskheta, Georgia

Ubisa Monastery

Ubisa is a small village and a medieval monastic complex in Georgia. It comprises a 9th-century St. George’s Monastery founded by St. Gregory of Khandzta, a 4-floor tower (AD 1141), fragments of a 12th-century defensive wall and several other buildings and structures. The monastery houses a unique cycle of murals from the late 14th century made by Damiane apparently influenced by art from the Byzantine Palaiolo ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Ubisa, Georgia

Katskhi Monastery

The Katskhi Monastery of Nativity of the Savior was built at the behest of the Baguashi family in the period of 988–1014. The church building is noted for a hexagonal design and rich ornamentation. Closed down by the Soviet government in 1924, the monastery was revived in 1990 and is now operated by the Eparchy of Sachkhere and Chiatura of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The Katskhi monastery is a octagonal build ...
Founded: 988-1014 AD | Location: Katskhi, Georgia

Achi Monastery

The Achi monastery is a single-nave hall church, built of hewn stone. Constructed at the end of the 13th century or in the early 14th, it was later reroofed, renovated and surrounded by a defensive wall. The whole interior is frescoed. Some murals, stylistically dated to the late 13th century and betraying affinities with the Palaeologan art, are iconographic rarities, such as those depicting the life of Saint George. ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Achi, Georgia

Timotesubani Monastery

Timotesubani is a medieval Georgian Orthodox Christian monastic complex located at the eponymous village in the Borjomi Gorge. The complex consists of a series of structures built between the 11th and 18th centuries, of which the Church of the Dormition is the largest and artistically most exquisite edifice constructed during the 'Golden Age' of medieval Georgia under Queen Tamar (r. 1184-1213). A conte ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Tsaghveri, Georgia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.