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.
The Achi monastery was favored by the Princes of Guria, especially Simon I Gurieli and Kaikhosro I Gurieli in the 17th century. Both made significant donations to the church and Kaikhosro made it a metochion of the bishopric see of Shemokmedi. The abbotship of Achi was then hereditary in the Salukvadze-Taqaishvili family. The church housed a gilded silver cross with a Georgian inscription mentioning the queen Tamar, which was discovered by Ekvtime Taqaishvili. The item was preserved in the Salukvadze family during the Soviet period and returned to the Achi church in 2015.References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.