Vardzia Cave Monastery

Tmogvi, Georgia

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 (1156-1184), when the site was laid out and the first cave dwellings excavated. The second period was between his death and the marriage of his successor Tamar in 1186, when the Church of the Dormition was carved out and decorated. The third was from that date until the Battle of Basian c.1203, during which time many more dwellings as well as the defences, water supply, and irrigation network were constructed. The fourth period was a partial rebuilding after heavy damage in the earthquake of 1283.

The Church of the Dormition, dating to the 1180s during the golden age of Tamar and Rustaveli, has an important series of wall paintings. The site was largely abandoned after the Ottoman takeover in the sixteenth century.

Now part of a state heritage reserve, the extended area of Vardzia-Khertvisi has been submitted for future inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Georgia

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gáspár Parlagi (2 years ago)
The Tmogvi Fortress is not easy to reach (15 min by car [4x4 recommended] or 25 min by walk) but definitely worth it! One of the most beautiful view have ever seen! On a painting I would say the artist pushed it a bit too far such a beautiful composition does not exist in reality - but if you are there you must accept that, nevertheless, yet there is... ;-)
Michael Pope (3 years ago)
Tmogvi Fortress has amazing views of the valley below. But I recommend against climbing all the way up to the castle, as the “trail” is very treacherous. You could easily slip & tumble down the hill; I almost did. If you have a drone, bring it and get your good pics that way. Also, the road up to the fortress is quite difficult without a 4x4, but I did manage to slowly make it up there with a Toyota Prius.
Nino Meskhidze (3 years ago)
The fortress in in a good condition, bat the views from there was incredibly amazing
Zuzanna Molska (3 years ago)
There is a small bridge from which a dirt road takes you up the hill, straight to the fortress. It’s accessible via 4x4, though it’s a slow and bumpy ride. I wouldn’t recommend it to drivers afraid of heights. The views are amazing even if you don’t decide to climb the ruins themselves.
Giorgi Kiviladze (6 years ago)
Awesome place, great view, don't miss it!
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