Religious sites in 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

Kvetera Church

Kvetera Church is a Georgian Orthodox church in a historic fortified town of Kvetera in Kakheti. Kvetera Church was built in the early part of the 10th century. It is a relatively small church and resembles the Georgian cross-dome style of architecture. The dome rests on a round tympanum and rises over the central square pace. The Projections end in an apse, which have niches between them. The facade of the church i ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Akhmeta, Georgia

Manglisi Cathedral

Manglisi Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox cathedral near the town of Manglisi. The first church was built in 4th century. The current cathedral was constructed in 6th-7th century. The cathedral went through a huge restoration in 1002.
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Manglisi, Georgia

Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral

Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox basilica was built in 478–493. It is the oldest extant church building in Georgia. Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral is known for its Georgian Bolnisi inscriptions. These are one of the oldest historical documents of the Georgian alphabet.
Founded: 478-493 AD | Location: Bolnisi, 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

Church of St. Simeon the Canaanite

The Church of St. Simeon the Canaanite is located near the town of Akhali Atoni in Abkhazia/Georgia, dating from the 9th or 10th century. The church is dedicated to St. Simon the Canaanite, who, according to the 11th-century Georgian Chronicles, preached Christianity in Abkhazia and Egrisi and died and was buried at the town of Nicopsia, to the north of Abkhazia. A nearby grotto is associated by popular legends wi ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Akhali Atoni, Georgia

Poti Cathedral

Poti Cathedral is an imitation of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, and it was built in 1906-07 with the great contribution of Niko Nikoladze, the mayor of Poti. Notably, Niko Nikoladze chose the location of the cathedral in the center of the town to make it viewable from every side of Poti. A. Zelenko and M. Marfeld were the architects of this Neo-Byzantine cathedral and the capacity of the church is 2,000 people. The orna ...
Founded: 1906-1907 | Location: Poti, Georgia

Pitsunda Cathedral

The Pitsunda or Bichvinta Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox Cathedral located in Pitsunda, in the Gagra district of the de facto independent Republic of Abkhazia, internationally recognised as constituting a part of Georgia. The cathedral is currently used by the Abkhazian Orthodox Church and serves as that body"s seat, although this usage is disputed by the Republic of Georgia and is considered irregular ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Pitsunda, 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

Ateni Sioni Church

The Ateni Sioni Church is an early 7th-century Georgian Orthodox church in the village of Ateni, some 10 km south of the city of Gori, Georgia. It stands in a setting of the Tana River valley known not only for its historical monuments but also for its picturesque landscapes and wine. The name 'Sioni' derives from Mount Zion at Jerusalem. Sioni is an early example of a 'four-apse church with four ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Ateni, 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

Nikortsminda Cathedral

Nikortsminda Cathedral was built in 1010-1014 during the reign of Bagrat III of Georgia and was repaired in 1634 by the King Bagrat III of Imereti. Three-storied bell-tower next to the Cathedral was built in the second half of the 19th century. Frescoes inside the Cathedral date from the 17th century. Nikortsminda has a massive dome and has unbroken arcatures as its twelve windows, which are decorated with ornamente ...
Founded: 1010-1014 | Location: Nikortsminda, 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

Shavnabada Monastery

Shavnabada Monastery is a medieval Georgian Orthodox monastic complex that is located upon Shavnabada Mountain. It was named in honor of St. George who, according to a local legend, wore a black cloak (shavi nabadi, hence the mountain’s name) while leading the army of the king of Georgia in one of the victorious battles of the time. The monastery of Shavnabada is known for a rare variety of wine, also called Sh ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Kvemo Teleti, Georgia

Gagra Church

The Gagra Church, also known as Abaata, is an early medieval Christian church at Gagra in Abkhazia, Georgia. One of the oldest churches in Abkhazia, it is a simple three-nave basilica built in the 6th century and reconstructed in 1902. The Gagra church stands in the territory of the contemporaneous fortress known as Abaata, now completely in ruins. It is built of blocks of rough ashlar stone. The main entrance i ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Gagra, Georgia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.