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Akhali Shuamta (New Shuamta) nunnery complex is situated two kilometers from Dzveli Shuamta in a picturesque area along the Gombori Pass. The nunnery was built by Kakhetian King Levan II and Queen Tinatin in the 16 century. The complex includes a cruciform church with high cupola and a bell tower.
The church is decorated with 16th century fine frescoes depicting the scenes of Christ's life as well as of the Royal Family: King Levan II, Queen Tinatin and their son Georgi.
Alaverdi - cathedral is a symbol of blossoming of the Georgian culture. Built in 11th c - in a period of great cultural and political development of the country, it was one of the biggest Georgian structures and the tallest church of its time. The exterior is decorated with five elegant arches, the facade carries excellent stone decorations.
These often represent vine and sun symbols. The mural painting was badly damaged during the centuries, but some frescoes are partially restored. Cathedral is surrounded by impressive defensive walls.
Ananuri architectural complex belonged to the house of the Eristavi of Aragvi - a violent local ruler. The characteristic architectural design of the late medieval period includes a fortress, two churches, an old watch tower, prison and civic buildings.
Located on the famous Georgian Military Highway it stood as a guardian to the Northern boarders of Georgia. A picturesque view of reservoir spread bellow opens from the base of the Ananuri Fortress.
Anchiskhati Church is the only survived church of the first five churches built in Tbilisi in 5th century. This three-nave basilica was dedicated to the Virgin Mary but in 17th century acquired appellation of Anchiskhati, as the Anchiskhati icon was moved to this church from the Monastery of Anchi in the southwest of the country. The icon dates from the twelfth century and is the work of Beka Opizari - a famous goldsmith of the period.
In front of entrance to the church, stands an elegant bell tower, typical of the late medieval Georgian style.
Ateni Sioni is a masterpiece of monumental architectural art. It stands on a cliff side on the outskirts of a small village. The church dates back to the first half of the 7th century. It is built of carved greenish-grey sandstone which turns red when it gets old. It has two entrances: southern and northern ones. The walls of the church display unique Georgian writings of different periods. The murals, completed in the second half of the 11th century, follow the old Georgian traditional iconographical style. Most of the splendid frescoes are still visible today.
Bagrati church of the Assumption of the Virgin was built by King Bagrat III in Kutaisi, in 1003 AD. It is a marvellous example of domed-church architecture from the high Medieval period, noted with impressive examples of stone carving.
Partially ruined cathedral is situated on the top of the hill called Ukimerioni and commands a splendid view of Georgia's second city, Kutaisi. This was an ancient citadel, a royal palace and one of the most important castles from 6th to 17th c.
Betania The cupola church of 12th-13th was built of hewn stones and later repaired with bricks. The church is beautifully located in a lush forest in the surroundings of Tbilisi. Fragments of beautiful murals are preserved inside the church. The portraits of King George III, Queen Tamar and her son Lasha-Giorgi. are kept here.
The Birtvisi medieval fortress and towers, surrounded by rocky hills, deep canyons and impressive scenery, were built by local Lords. For centuries the Birtvisi defence system was in-conquerable, only at the end of 14th century this territory was taken by Tamerlane.
Bolnisi sioni is a three-nave basilica built in 5th c. The capitals and columns are decorated with geometric carvings, patterns depicting vegetables and pictures of birds and animals. The capital of the baptistery is decorated with a cross, peacocks and a bull head with another cross between its horns. Bolnisi Sioni has Georgia's most ancient inscriptions dating from the late 5th century, mentioning Bishop David and King Peroz.
The churches of Svaneti are mainly single-nave basilicas of the 8th-9th-14th cc., built with stone, without facade ornamentation. The interiors are uniquely unmolested for Georgia and usually richly decorated with frescos painted by artists Michael Maglakeli and Tevdore ("King's artist"). The frescos are mainly 10th-12th cc; the main churches are Kvirike and Ivlita, Ipari, Nakipari, Lenjeri, Latali, Tangili.
David-Gareja is a rock-cut monastery complex in a desert area at the border with Azerbaijan. The very first monastery was founded by St. David, one of the Thirteen Syrian Fathers who came to Georgia for strengthening Christian faith.
The complex consists of thirteen monasteries. Of particular interest are the complexes of Lavra and Udabno. Being the center of religious and cultural life in the past, today these sites surprise us with their architectural design and unique murals of the 10th -11th cc. According to the belief, visiting David-Gareja three times can be equaled to a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Dzveli Shuamta (Old Shuamta). The term "Shuamta" means "a place between mountains". The Shuamta complex consists of two sites: The Old and the New Shuamta. In the Old Shuamta complex boasts three churches, several chapels and ruins of human dwellings.
It is an excellent example of Georgian early Christian architecture. The main church is a three-nave basilica built in 6th century. There are also two tetra-conch cupola churches built in 7th century. In one of them the remains of mural paintings can still be seen. The site was abandoned in the 14th century.
Gelati complex comprises the churches of the Virgin (the main church), of St Nicolas, of St. George, as well as the academy which was the centre of cultural and spiritual life. The Gelaty monastery complex was founded by King David the Builder in the 12th c. It is noted by the finest examples of Georgian mural painting. Among them is the only surviving portrait of King David the Builder whose grave can be found at the gateway of the monastery. The giant 12th century mosaic of the Virgin with Child is completely unique.
Gergety Trinity Church built in XIII-XIV c is the only cupola church in the Khevi region. Perched on the top of the Tsminda Sameba (Holly Trinity) hill at 2170 meters above sea level, it is something of a symbol of Georgia.
The severe beauty of glaciers and austerity of local people are reflected in the construction of such a huge church on such a height. The trek up to the Gergety Trinity church starts at the village Gergety and passes through lush forests and alpine fields.
Gremi - architectural complex of 16th-17th cc was built by King Levan and Queen Ketevan on a rocky hill. In the 16th c Gremi was the capital of Kakheti Kingdom, but all that remains of the former town are some ruins of a market, baths, caravanserai and a palace. The present complex used to be a citadel and consists of a tower, king's chambers, defensive walls and a central-dome Archangel's church built of square bricks. The interior of the church is decorated by frescoes of 17th century.
Gurjaanis Kvelatsminda - The Church of the Dormition of the Virgin is situated in a forest, two kilometers from the town of Gurjaani. This church is a unique example of twin-domed architecture in Georgia.
The complex was destroyed by invaders, and rebuilt and repaired several times by local nobles and Georgian kings. It offers a graphic example of the new type of large cathedral with several chapels.
Ikalto Academy - is a religious and educational center which was founded by King David the Builder in 11-12th centuries. The first church of the complex was founded in 6th century by Zenon, one of the Thirteen Syrian fathers who came to Georgia to strengthen Christian faith.
The complex consists of the Sameba church - 6th c; one nave basilica - 9th c, the main church dedicated to "peritsvaleba" - transfiguration built in 8-9th c and reconstructed in 19th c, and a medieval academy. According to a legend the famous Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli studied there.
Jvari is a masterpiece of the early Medieval Period. It stands on a mountain opposite the ancient city of Mtskheta. St. Nino erected the first wooden cross at the site. Its pedestal can still be seen in the centre of the church. This example of classic tetra conch design with all its miniature size, strikes the viewers with its grandeur and integrity.
The interior, once decorated with mosaics is rather bare today, but a spectacular view opens from the church, which is seen from far away, equally well from all directions.
Kashveti Church of St. George (1904-10), situated in the heart of Tbilisi on Rustaveli Avenue, is distinguished by richness of ornamentation, especially by the stone carvings around windows, arches and corners. As a model for the present Kashveti Church, the Samtavisi Church was used. The mural painting is a masterpiece of the famous Georgian painter - Lado Gudiashvili. In this two-storey church the Russian orthodox church functioned in the first floor, whereas the second floor was belonged to the Georgian orthodox church.
Khertvisi Fortress - ranks among one of the oldest fortresses in Georgia, but the exact date of its construction is not known. The fortress already existed in the 10th c, although there is an evidence of earlier construction work. According to a legend, Queen Tamar held a competition to see who could build the best tower.
From the eastern wall two tunnels lead down to the river, one served as a water supply route, the other for communication. A legend has it that Alexander the Great visited the site during his Eastern Campaign in the 4th century BC.
Kintsvisi is located on a picturesque wooded mountain slope. The domed cross-planed church of St. Nicolas is adorned with remarkable mural paintings portraying King Giorgi III, Queen Tamar and her son Lasha-Giorgi. Among these murals especially impressive is "The Angel of Kintsvisi". Nearby the main church, on the bank of the Kintsvura river stands the only surviving part of the single-nave basilica dedicated to the Virgin. This small church has suffered greatly from frequent floods. The artistic technique and style of the murals in the remaining part of the main apse, resemble those of the main church of St. Nicholas.
Manglisi cross-cupola church situated near the village of Manglisi was built in 11th c. The church was erected on an important trade route which connected eastern countries with the Byzantium. In thirties of the 4th century, a church already stood here, and in the first half of the 11th century it was replaced by the present church - a tetra conch in plan. The wall paintings preserved in the church are of the 11th century.
Metekhi Church, was built in 1289 under the order of king Demetre the 2nd ('The Devoted'), although the former church stood here already in 5th century. This area was considered both religious and royal site, as in 12th century royal palace was moved near the church. The name "Metekhi" may be translated as "the area near palace". The Church was destroyed and later repaired several times. Under Russian rule the site was the home of the infamous Metekhi jail. In the Soviet period the church stopped functioning and was used as a theatre. However, with independence of Georgia, it has regained its original purpose. At present, Metekhi is an active Orthodox Church.
Motsameta monastery complex (8th-11th CC) is beautifully situated between the valleys of two rivers near Kutaisi. In the 8th century, brothers David and Konstantine Mkheidzes, the Lords of the region, were assassinated here by Arabs, for refusing to convert to Islam.
The old church was destroyed. A present monastery complex was built on the site of the old church by King Bagrat in 11th century. "Motsameta" monastery means "monastery of martyrs". The sacred remains of the brothers are kept in the Crypt of the church.
Mtatsminda - a holly mountain with the Holly Father David's church. The church dates from 1879 and was built on the original site of Saint David's cell. David came to Georgia as one of the thirteen Syrian fathers to preach Christianity. He has chosen this mountain, uninhabited at that time and slightly away from the town and lived there in a cell. The interior of the present church is fully decorated with frescoes. The church is surrounded by the Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures of Georgia.
Narikala fortress or Shuris Tsikhe - the Rival Fortress, is the ancient site of Tbilisi built by Arabs in 4th c. Much of what we see today, dates from 8th c. With its unique strategic location both local rulers and foreign invaders looked to make Narikala their headquarters.
The Shakhtakhti Tower was built as an observatory. Archaelogical research in 1967 revealed that there was a twelfth century church inside the Narikala complex. The church was rebuilt in 1996 and designed in keeping with the fortress surrounding it. The interior is decorated with frescoes, depicting both biblical scenes and the history of Georgia.
Nekresi monastery complex in Kvareli region with a beautiful view of the Alazani valley was founded by St. Abibo Nekreseli, one of the Thirteen Syrian monks who came to Georgia in the 6th century to strengthen Christian faith. But already in the 4th century one of the first Christian churches was built here.
The oldest church is a tiny basilica with the open arches in the facade to conduct service from outside. The main church of Assumption of the Virgin was built in 6-7th cc. The naves of this three nave basilica are divided by walls and form a three-church basilica, unique to Georgia.
Nikortsminda domed cathedral was built in 1010-1014 by King Bagrat III to the north of Kutaisi, in the hilly region of Racha. Nikortsminda is remarkable for its exterior stone carvings. Each part of the design is related to the theme of divine greatness of Christ.
The monument is a masterpiece of its period. The interior in decorated with mural paintings of the late medieval period. There are portrayals of saints, multi figure scenes, realistic and fantastic animals.
Ninotsminda nunnery complex was built in 6th century. With semicircular apses and profound niches, this beautiful example of an early flower shaped cupola-church architecture, preceeding the Jvari Church architecture. The cupola and walls of Ninotsminda church collapsed as a result of an earthquake that took place in the first half of the 19th century. Some fragments of frescoes and an elegant bell tower are preserved in their original shape.
Samtavisi Cathedral built in 11th century is famous for its slender architecture and unique facade decorations. It stands out by richness of ornamentation, especially by stone carvings around windows, arches and corners. Unfortunately, there are only a few frescoes preserved within. The church we see today was built on the site, where originally a monastery complex founded by one of Thirteen Syrian monks (6th century) stood.
Samtavro monastery complex - former residence of the lords of Mtskheta is a burial and coronation site of Georgian royal family. The first Christian King, Mirian and his wife Nana are buried in the church. The main building of the complex is the great church of Samtavro. The tiny church of St Nino dates from the 4th c. In the North-west stands a handsome three-storey bell-tower of 13th c. The South-west buildings have functioned both as a nunnery and theological seminary of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Sapara monastery complex, perched on the edge of a cliff, already existed in 9th century, but was expanded by the Akhaltsikhe governors Sargis and Beka Jakeli. The complex consists of churches of St.Saba, St. Stefane and The Assumption of Godmother. The church of St.Saba is the largest of all, and is notable for its architecture and mural paintings of the 14th century. The earliest surviving structure is the 10th century church, dedicated to the assumption of the Godmother. There used to be a famous 11th century stone iconostasis - Kankeli.
Shatili The main part of this fantastic fortress-village stands on the rocky outcrop, surrounded by high mountains. Dwelling-towers are built closely to each other, forming a unique defence system - a virtually impregnable wall which creates an impression of a severe and mythical stronghold. The major part of Shatili is stacked with terraces - the roof of one house simultaneously is the yard of another. The tower-houses are connected by wood and stone bridges.
Shio-Mgvime monastery complex was founded in the 6th century by St. Shio, (one of the Thirteen Syrian Fathers). After having a dream, he chose to live in a dark isolated cave near a 6th century church north-west of the ancient city of Mtskheta. His grave is still visible there today. In 11th century, a church was built over Shio's tomb. Another church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was erected by King David the builder. The refectory was built in 12t century.
Sighnaghi - a Royal town surrounded by the defensive walls with 23 towers. Each of these towers were named after nearby villages and respective families and served as a refuge in case of danger. These unique walls were built by King Herecle II to protect the area from incursions by Lezgins from north Caucasus. The town was mainly inhabited by merchants and artisans. It had many gates through which numerous Silk Road travellers from Asia and Europe passed on their way.
Sioni Cathedral was started in 500 during the reign of King Guaram of Iberia. It was finished in 620 when King Adarnese I ruled. The cathedral has been ransacked, and damaged many times through its history. Despite all the havoc and destruction Sioni has survived and in such terms may be judged as a symbol for the city as a whole. The general structure dates from Georgia's Golden Age in the thirteenth century. After each destruction it was restored to its previous state adding new elements. In 19th century using the designs of Grigory Gagarin the whole church was repainted. Today Gagarin's frescoes are visible in the upper parts of the cathedral. The frescoes decorating the lower walls are very modern. These were completed in 1989 and are the work of the artist Levan Tsutskiridze. All the icons in the cathedral are Georgian.
Sulphur Baths with numerous domes partially protruding out of the ground are fed by natural hydrogen sulphide water from under-ground springs, and have a curative effect. The baths are called Erekle's Baths. Historians attest that these unique baths probably date from the Arab period (7th-8th cc). During the Golden Age there were some sixty eight baths altogether, but by the seventeenth century, as a result of destructions caused by frequent invasions their number was reduced to just six. The impressive Islamic style building at the far end of the street is called the Orbeliani Bathhouse named after the Orbeliani family. The style of mosaic on the facade is the last surviving example of Islamic influence upon the city. The building dates from the late 17th c but was significantly renovated during both the 19th and 20th cc.
Svetitskhoveli - which may be translated as "The Life-giving pillar", is the main church of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is being kept. An enormous cedar tree grew on a place where Christ's robe was buried. The place was chosen as a site for the future church. The branches of This magic tree served for constructed pillars. This bright example of Georgian renaissance architecture was erected by architect Arsukidze in 11th c, in the place where the first church in Georgia once stood in the 4th c.
Timotesubani monastery - the Cathedral of Holy Virgin is a cross-cupola church built in 12-13th cc. The interior of the church is decorated with best examples of Georgian mural painting of 13th c. The name of its architect as well as the name of the painter is unknown. Originally the church had a blue roof, as blue color was highly appreciated during the middle ages.
Tmogvi - Historical castle-city of the Middle Ages was a strategic point, located on the left shore of the river Mtkvari, which flows in a gorge far below. It controlled the important trade route, coming from the near East. Its almost inaccessible location made it impregnable to invaders. Arab hordes attempted several times to conquer it but all in vain.
Tsilkani - situated in the Mukhrani valley is one of the first churches built by King Bakar in 4th century. It's an excellent example of architectural perfection of that epoch. Built with bricks of a particular shape the structure is highly resistant to earthquakes.
Tsromi Cathedral built in 17th century marks the beginning of a new stage in Georgian architecture. Instead of being supported by the church walls, the dome rests on four independent pillars. The cathedral is richly decorated with mosaics.
Tsugrugasheni church is noteable for its rich ornamentation, especially stone carvings around windows and arches, as well as its fragments of frescos. In the church inscriptions King George and church builder Hasan - son of Arsen are evident. Of special note is its very high dome drum with ten windows connected to a single arcade, framed with ornament. The church also contains a double ornamented cornice.
Ubisi The picturesque Ubisi complex consists of a single nave basilica of the 9th century, a three storied dwelling-tower called "sveti" (pillar), and some subsidiary monastic buildings, now almost completely destroyed by time. The tower bears an inscription that dates the monastery and the tower as far back as 1141 AD. The belfry is of a later period. Ubisi church is well-known for its 14th century. According to the long-established tradition, the vault and the walls are almost entirely covered with paintings.
Uplistsikhe - meaning "The Fortress of God" is an ancient cave town from the 1st half of the 1st millennium BC. situated on the crossroads of important trade routs. It was the main centre of paganism, and represents a complex of halls, caves, theatres, altars, pagan temples, secret tunnels, prisons, pharmacy, passages-streets all carved out of stone over an area of 4 hectares.
At its peak of prosperity, the city had a population of 20 000. In 9th -10th cc AD a three-nave basilica was added to the complex.
Ushguli - This architecturally unique Middle Age village-fortification is situated 2200 m above see level, and is the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe. Surrounded by the giant snow capped mountains, it lies below mount Chkhara (5200), one of the highest, and most beautiful on the Georgian part of the Caucasus range. Ushguli is a complex of watch-towers, dwelling-houses and ancient one-nave basilicas with impressive mural paintings. There is a belief that the ruins of Queen Tamar's fortress may be a secret burial place of this glorious queen so much beloved and venerated by Georgians.
Vanis Kvabebi is situated in a narrow gorge of the Javakheti plateau. The monastery was built between the 8th and 16th centuries. Among the structures of this multi-tiered monastery complex are hall churches, a domed church, cells and store-rooms; remains of the horizontal and even vertical tunnels, and a water supply system. The complex was surrounded by a strong defensive wall built in 1204. Some inscriptions in ink, all dating from the second half of the fifteenth century, are found in a little domed church that clings to the rock.
Vardzia a rock-hewn complex on the left bank of the river Mtkvari was founded in the 12th -13th cc. during the reign of Giorgi III and Queen Tamar. Initially planned as a town-fortress, the complex became a well fortified monastery, which had a significant role in political, cultural, educational and spiritual life of the country.
Its nineteen tiers extend from east to west, the dwellings were hewn and tunnels hollowed out into the cliff from south to north. There are two-room, three-room and four-room cliff dwellings in Vardzia, including two-storey ones; galleries and vertical tunnels, secret passes and a pharmacy. In the middle of the complex there is a Church of Assumption, richly decorated with mural painting. Behind the church there is a pool which served as a spring water reservoir, and was considered holy.
Zarzma Monastery was founded by confessor Serapion Zarzmeli in 10th century. In the same period King david Kuropalat built a chapel, cathedral and bell-tower. The main large domed church, almost quadratic in plan was built in the 14th century. The doors and windows are richly decorated.
There is a 14th century mural painting in interior of the church. The frescoes represent portraits of the Jakheli - the former governors of the ancient Samtskhe region.