David Gareja monastery complex
David Gareja Monastery Complex
David Gareja is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located in the Kakheti region, on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja, some 60 - 70 km southeast of Georgia's capital Tbilisi. It was built in the 6th century by Assyrian Priests sent to strengthen Christianity in Georgia. The complex consists of thirteen monasteries. Of particular interest are the complexes of Lavra and Udabno. The monasteries were destroyed by the Mongols in 1265, revived in the 14th century by Giorgi V the Brilliant, sacked by Timur, and then destroyed on Easter night 1615 when Shah Abbas' soldiers killed 6000 monks and trashed many of the artistic treasures. The monasteries never regained their former importance, though they remained active until the end of the 19th century. 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 centuries. According to the belief, visiting David-Gareja three times can be equaled to a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.