Churches & Monasteries

Private: Agara Monastery

Located in the rolling hills of Akhaltsikhe lies the Agara Monastery, an ancient Georgian Orthodox complex dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries. Explore the main church which is one of the greatest and largest individual churches in Georgia. This multifaceted complex also contains ancient ruins of a monastery and bell tower that have inscriptions dating back to the 14th century. Visitors can walk or hike the grounds, which serve as an ideal spot for sightseeing.

Private: Baiebi Complex

The Baiebi rock-cut complex stands on a cliff west of the village of Tskordza and dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. According to legend it was built by the Baiashvili family, from which the name “Baiebi” originates. The complex served as a shelter (sakhizari) made up of a stronghold protected with a wall that could be entered only through a small stone gate.

It also has two small hall-churches, which look as if they protrude from the rock, and have been preserved inside the stronghold. The complex consists of a fence, two single-nave churches standing next to each other, a cave shrine and a tunnel.

Private: Agara Monastery

Located in the rolling hills of Akhaltsikhe lies the Agara Monastery, an ancient Georgian Orthodox complex dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries. Explore the main church which is one of the greatest and largest individual churches in Georgia. This multifaceted complex also contains ancient ruins of a monastery and bell tower that have inscriptions dating back to the 14th century. Visitors can walk or hike the grounds, which serve as an ideal spot for sightseeing.

Kumurdo Monastery

Kumurdo Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox Cathedral situated on Javakheti Plateau, 12 km southwest from Akhalkalaki. According to the inscriptions on the walls, written with the ancient Georgian writing of Asomtavruli, the Kumurdo Cathedral was built by Ioane the Bishop during the reign of King of the Abkhazians Leon III in 964.

It is the first church with emerging features of the 11-13th century architecture of Georgia. During the Middle Ages, Kumurdo was an important cultural, educational and religious center. The cathedral was restored twice, once in 1930 and again from 1970 to 1980.

The western rectangular arm of the church is three-nave, with internal narthex and three sided gallery arranged in its western end. The external layout of the church is cross-shaped, with a three-partite sanctuary and two triangular niches are arranged on it’s western façade. A porch-chapel was erected in front of the main entrance with a tiny shrine arranged in the thickness of the load-bearing wall.

Kvabiskhevi Church

The Kvabiskhevi church of the Dormition is also known as Mariamtsminda. It is a medieval Georgian Orthodox church, situated 2 km northwest of the village of Kvabiskhevi in the Borjomi Municipality. A three-nave basilica, the church was constructed in the 8th or 9th century on a high rocky mountain slope, overlooking a steep descent into the deep river canyon. The church is also popular for its 12th–13th-century fresco portrait of the young nobleman named Shota, who is popularly believed to be the poet Shota Rustaveli. The Kvabiskhevi church is featured on the list of Immovable Cultural Monuments of National Significance of Georgia.

The most decorated part of the Basilica is the western doorway, over the upper plate of which, in small circles, are engraved three simple crosses, which gives us the knowledge to date the church to the 8th or 9th centuries. On the north wall, on a green and gray background, two people are depicted – a man with the name “Shota” and a woman with the name “Iai”. Presumably they were the owners of the church. The rest of the paintings are in fragments.

Mtsvane (Green) Monastery

Located in a beautiful green forest, this monastery offers not only historical information, but also a peaceful setting for a walk or picnic. It is also referred to as the Chitakhevi St. George’s Monastery, but labeled the Green Monastery due to its lush location. It was restored in 2003, after being abandoned for almost 200 years and now serves as a popular tourism and pilgrimage site. On site, visitors can explore a church and two-story bell tower, which features a chapel and human remains on display. It is located in the village of Chitakhevi, 12 km southeast of the town of Borjomi.

Poka Monastery

On the shores of Paravani Lake there is a historical site where St. Nino was on a mission to bring Christianity to Georgia, and she rested here after arriving from Javakheti. It was at this spot in 1989 that a monastery was erected, shortly followed by a nunnery in 1992. For those who want to see festivities in her honor, go to St. Nino’s feast day, celebrated on June 1. Visitors can also explore the village ruins from pre and early feudal times or purchase cloisonne enamel works of art, cheese, artisan jams, honey, and porcelain that are cultivated and manufactured at the nunnery.

Samsari Church

Samsari church and settlement has a domed church carved out of Mt. Samsari rock and a monastery complex dating back to 10th century. It is situated in the river canyon near the village of Patara”little” Samsari. Traces of the monastery extend along the entire canyon. The main church is domed and hewn from the rock, highly accurate in form and proportion and equal to any brick or stone-built church. Its forms are perfect and delicate. In addition to the main church, there is a refectory, small and larger chapels, and monastic cells. In the canyon there are many two or three-story caves, however, the complex is rather damaged and many of its caves have collapsed.

Sapara Monastery

Take a step back into medieval times by visiting the Georgian Orthodox Sapara Monastery, located in Samtskhe-Javakheti. Believed to be built during or before 10th century, the monastery was once the residence of the prominent Jakeli family. Inside the monastery’s twelve churches, visitors can immerse themselves in historical church paintings and magical colors that are still intact. The Sapara Monastery is home to a complex of buildings, including the Chapel of Saint Stephanie, Sapara Castle, bell tower, and Saint George Church.

Tchule Monastery

Built-in the 14th century, this Georgian Orthodox monastery is a wonderful place for tourists to experience some of the ancient cultures of Christianity. It is also known as the Chulevi Monastery. The artwork and architecture in the monastery represent a battle for faith during the previous Mongol domination of that time. It is located on the left bank of the Kvabliani river, near the town of Adigen.

Besides the history and culture, the nature around Tchule Monastery is incredible. If you follow the path from behind the Monastery uphill you will reach a beautiful waterfall just in 10 minutes which is hidden in the forest.

Timotesubani Monastery

The beautiful Timotesubani Monastery, also called the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, is a cross-cupola church built in the 12th and 13th centuries. Timotesubani is a medieval Georgian Orthodox Christian complex located 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 most artistically exquisite. It was constructed during the “Golden Age” of medieval Georgia under Queen Tamar. A contemporary inscription commemorates the Georgian nobleman Shalva of Akhaltsikhe as a patron of the church.

The church has a domed cross-in-square design built of pink stone, with three apses projecting out on the east side. It’s dome rests upon the two freely standing pillars and ledges of the altar.

The interior was extensively frescoed in no later than the 1220s. The Timotesubani murals are noted for their vivacity and complexity of iconographic programs. These frescoes were cleaned and studied by E. Privalova and colleagues in the 1970s. They underwent emergency treatment and conservation with aid from the World Monuments Fund, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in the 2000s. The interior of the church is decorated with the best examples of Georgian mural painting of the 13th Century. Originally, the church had a blue roof, as the color blue was highly appreciated during the Middle Ages, but now it has been reverted to a stone-coloured hue.

The Monastery has a rich history. As legend says in ancient days it was often visited by warriors including the iconic brothers Shalva and Ivane Toreli who used it to pray before military campaigns. After one of their victories, in gratitude to the Virgin Mariam, the brothers built the Church of the Assumption in the nearby territory.

Ude Monastery

Ude Catholic Church was built by Georgian Catholics in 1904-1906 on the site of a former Orthodox church. This is one of the five temples disputed between the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church in Georgia. In 2012, construction and renovation of this monastery complex began in the vicinity of the Church of the Virgin Mary. A new fence was erected for the church along with a bell tower, a refectory, rooms and shops. During the construction, details of medieval Georgian architecture and fragments of tombstones were found around the temple, which are now arranged on the south facade of the temple.

Near the church there is a nunnery where the nuns produce wine, jerkie, snail marinade and other traditional Meskhetian dishes. They offer master-classes in Meskhetian cuisine and wine-tasting. For more information please contact us directly.

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.

Vanis Kvabebi

Vanis Kvabebi is a cave monastery near the town of Aspindza, and the famous cave city of Vardzia. The complex dates back to the 8th century, and consists of a defensive wall built in 1204 and a maze of tunnels running on several levels inside the mountain. There are also two churches in the complex. A newer stone church stands near the top of the wall, and a smaller, domed church which clings to the rock.

Vanis Kvabebi contains hundreds of caves carved into the rock on sixteen different floors. On the cave walls of the upper floors, are the remains of the 15th century inscriptions made by women who took refuge here. They transferred fragments taken from ancient Georgian poetry and prose. The date of its construction is unknown, but the architectural style is unique and can hardly be found among other Georgian churches.

Zarzma monastery

Crowned with one of the largest belfries in Georgia, the Zarzma Monastery of the Transfiguration boasts a domed church and a complex of buildings. They were built starting in the 8th century by Serapion of Zarzma. This site is fully functional and inhabited by Georgian monks. It was reconstructed towards the end of the 19th century, following previous centuries of abandonment after the Ottoman conquest in the 16th century. Art lovers will enjoy interior wall paintings that feature the portraits of Samtskhe rulers and historical figures. It is located in Zarzma, in the Adigeni municipality.

Although the church is under construction right now, travelers can enjoy the beautiful chant of monks during church services on Saturday and Sunday (also during holidays). Zarzma monks are famous for their incredible voices. 

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