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 (1156-1 ...
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

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.