Upper Vardzia Monastery


Upper Vardzia (Zeda) Monastery is an 11th-century Georgian Orthodox church, of the Theotokos. It is located in the Aspindza Municipality, 3 km northwest of Vardzia. The medieval rock-hewn complex is on the list of the Immovable Cultural Monuments of National Significance of Georgia.

After the Ottoman conquest of Samtskhe the monastery was deserted and the church building fell into decay. The church was brought to scholarly attention by the French student of the Caucasian antiquities, Marie-Félicité Brosset, who visited the area from 1847 to 1848. In 1875, the Georgian scholar Dimitri Bakradze reported that Upper Vardzia was used by the locally settled Kurds as an animal stall. Later, under Soviet rule, the building was restored, from 1975 to 1978, by the architects R. Gverdtsiteli and T. Nemsadze. In 1997, the church was returned to a Christian use and settled by a community of nuns.

Wall painting of the church might be of the same period, although due to the very small portion of the surviving frescoes in a poor condition, more accurate dating seems difficult.  In time the building itself suffered some damage, the southern porch had turned into ruins, but in the 70s the church was reconstructed to its original condition.

Nuns at the Monastery have various services for tourists. Upon reservation travelers can take part in arts and crafts activities in the monastery.

error: Content is protected