Cave Architecture
Cave city Vardzia is a cave monastery dug into the side of the Erusheti mountain in south Georgia near Apindza. Founded by Queen Tamar between 1185-89, it stands as unique example of the Georgian renaissance in an area of many medieval sites.The rock-hewn town Vardzia, 350 meters in length and 40 meters in height, consisted of more than 600 apartments sreated as protection from Mongols into the hidden thirteen floors high complex. The city included 28 wine-houses, 15 churches, library, storeroom of medicines, water supply and sanitation systems and wells. Only access to the complex was through some well hidden tunnels near the Mtkvari river. About three hundred apartments and halls remain visitable, and in some tunnels the old irrigation pipes still bring drinkable water.
Vanis Kvabebi
Vanis Kvabebi (Vani's Caves) is a cave monastery in Samtskhe-Javakheti region near Aspindza town and the famous cave city of Vardzia. The complex dates from 8th century and consists of a defensive wall built in 1204 and a maze of tunnels running on several levels in the side of the mountain. There are also two churches in the complex. A newer stone church and a smaller one with dome. The walls of a small church have preserved the inscriptions (lyrical poems, excerpts from "The Knight in the Tiger's Skin") in ink by the women hiding there in the second half of the 15th century.
Shiomgvime Monastery Complex
Shiomgvime is a medieval monastic complex located in a narrow limestone canyon on the northern bank of the river Mtkvari (Kura). According to a historic tradition, the first monastic community at this place was founded by the 6th-century monk Shio, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers who came to Georgia as Christian missionaries. St. Shio is said to have spent his last years as a hermit in a deep cave near Mtskheta subsequently named Shiomghvime ("the Cave of Shio") after him. The earliest building - the Monastery of St. John the Baptist - a cruciform church, very plain and strict in its design, indeed dates to that time, c. 560-580, and the caves curved by monks are still visible around the monastery and along the road leading to the complex.
The town in rocks is situated east of Gori on the left bank of the river Mtkvari, on the crossroads of important trade routs. This ancient cave town is dated from the 6th century B.C. Carved into rocky plateau we find huge echoing halls, long meandering corridor-streets, chambers for pagan worship and even the remains of Georgia's oldest theatre, complete with auditorium, stage and orchestra pit, secret tunnels, pagan temples... In 9th -10th cc AD a three-nave basilica was added to the complex.
David - Gareja monastery complex is situated in Sagarejo region at a distance of 84 kilometers southeast from Tbilisi, deep in semi-desert. Founded in middle of the VI century by one of the Syrian Fathers St. David, who came to Georgia for strengthening Christian faith, it was a spiritual, cultural and educational centre throughout centuries. The first monastery to be built on the site was David's Lavra, which was erected in the desert place. Monasteries of David Gareja Complex are remarkable for their original frescoes that date from the 8th to 13th centuries. 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.
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