Churches and Monasteries
Svetitskhoveli ("The Life-giving pillar") is situated in the centre of city-museum Mtskheta. Present building of Svetitskhoveli dates back to the XI century. It is the main church of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is being kept. The construction of the temple was begun during the reign of the first king of unified Georgia Bagrat the III (1001-1029) and continued for 19 years (1010-1029). This magnificent building has been used for centuries for the coronation and burial of Georgian monarchs. Svetitskhoveli has long been the principal Georgian church and remains one of the most venerated places of worship to this day.
Jvari Monastery is a Georgian Orthodox monastery of the 6th century near Mtskheta and is a masterpiece of the early Medieval Period. Unusual and varied relief sculptures decorate its facades.The name is translated as the Monastery of the Cross.According to traditional accounts, it was here in the early 4th century that Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting the country to Christianity, stayed here to pray and erected a cross on Mtskheta's highest hill. A minor church of the Holy Cross was built in the second half of the 6th century, and a bigger church was erected over the wooden cross between 586 and 605 by Erismtavari Stepanoz I.
Shiomgvime is a medieval monastic complex located in a narrow limestone canyon on the northern bank of the river Mtkvari (Kura). 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 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. 560s-580s, and the caves curved by monks are still visible around the monastery and along the road leading to the complex.
Ananuri (dating from the 17th century) is a Castle on the Aragvi River, about 45 miles from Tbilisi, on the sector of picturesque Georgian Military road. The fortifications enclose, amongst other buildings, two churches with mural paintings and lapidary inscriptions. In the older domed Church of the Virgin are buried some of the Eristavis (dukes) of Aragvi. Church has richly decorated facades, including a carved north entrance. It also contains the remains of a number of frescoes.
Gremi is situated in Kvareli region, at a distance of 150 kilometres from Tbilisi. Built by Levan, King of Kakhetians in the 16th century, it was an important town of Kakheti region in middle ages. In the XV century Gremi was the residence of Kakheti Royal family. The construction occupies over 50 hectares of space, and is erected on the site, featuring highly contrasting relief. The construction is encircled by e wall with thousands of inbuilt significant facilities, the major of them being Domed Church of Archangel, built in 1565.
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.
The Monastery of the Virgin - Gelati is situated in the vicinity of Kutaisi. The construction of Monastery Complex was started by David the Builder 1106 (he himself is buried here) and it was completed by his heir Demetre (1125 - 1156), it represents the flourishing medieval architecture in Georgia. The Gelati Monastery for a long time remained one of the main cultural and enlightening centers in old Georgia. It had an Academy which employed the most celebrated Georgian scientists - theologians and philosophers, many of whom had previously been active at various orthodox monasteries abroad or at the Mangan Academy in Constantinople. In 1994, Gelati Monastery was recognized by UNESCO as world heritage site.
Bagrati Cathedral, is the 11th-century cathedral church. The cathedral, now in ruins, has gone down as a masterpiece in the history of medieval Georgian architecture. The cathedral that was built during the reign of King Bagrat III due to which it was called Bagrat's Cathedral is now distinguished for its elegant proportions, grand size, ornaments and relief carvings. Bagrati Cathedral - being the ancient citadel, a royal palace and one of the most important castles from 6th century, was devastated in an explosion by the Ottoman troops, which had invaded the Kingdom of Imereti at the end of 17th century. The Bagrati Cathedral that is now included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
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.
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 created as protection from Mongols into the hodden 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. The monastery is distinguished for its main church adorned with the portraits of Giorgi III and Queen Tamar.

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