These Georgian monasteries will forever be etched in our memories
Monasteries are places of sacred traditions and in Georgia they are also located in spectacular settings and are home to entire villages.
The land of Georgia is a mystical land seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. Although not everyone will describe it so poetically, there are plenty of attractions, alpine valleys and monasteries that will make it look like that (not to mention Georgian food, hospitality and wine). There’s a reason Georgia tops Lemming’s list of emerging destinations!
Georgia is a very diverse, interesting and ancient country. It is also very proudly Christian (with the exception of the Autonomous Region of Adjara which is predominantly Muslim). Visiting this alpine country, one will be amazed at the number of churches and monasteries everywhere. And most of them are very active (we will often be greeted with their Georgian Orthodox songs).
Gergeti Trinity Church
One of the most notable and iconic is the Gergeti Trinity Church (or Holy Trinity Church). This church is located in the mountains like no other. Its extremely isolated location, its location on a steep mountain and being surrounded by the vastness of nature have made it a symbol of Georgia.
The Gergeti Trinity Church sits on the right bank of the Chkheri River at an elevation of 2,170 meters or 7,120 feet. It has Mount Kazkeki as its backdrop (an almost impossible name for English speakers to pronounce correctly).
- Background : Mount Kazkeki 5,034 meters or 16,516 feet
- Elevation: 2,170 meters or 7,120 feet
- Membership: Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church
- Status: active
The Gergeti Trinity Church was built in the 14th century. In case of danger, it is said that the holy Georgian relics would be taken there to safety. It is so isolated that few people could reach it.
You can go there by car (the road being built in 2018). But to really enjoy the trip here, partly descend on the main road, climb through the village and up the mountain to the church. The experience will not be forgotten. This is a steep 1.5 hour hike up the mountain.
Point: Ride (don’t drive) to the church
If one is looking for a tour, many tours are offered in the center of the main city of Tbilisi. But for a more quality visit, contact (and preferably) stay with Envoy Hostel and Tours in Tbilisi.
- Inn of the Envoy: Offers some of the best tours in the country
Envoy tours are often a bit more expensive than street tours, but they are much better planned and well worth the extra $10.00. Envoy specializes in tours to many of East Georgia’s top attractions, as well as authentic village tours. They focus on quality, not just price.
Gelati Monastery is a UNESCO-listed medieval monastic complex near the central city of Kutaisi. It was one of Georgia’s first monasteries and was built in 1106 by King David IV of Georgia. This king is popularly known as David the Builder in Georgia and one is likely to see statues of him everywhere.
- Built: In 1106
- Built by: David the Builder
- Listed: As a UNESCO World Heritage Site
It was built as a monastic and educational center and is considered an example of the Georgian Golden Age (a golden age that ended the Mongol invasions). Some of the wall paintings that can be seen in this church are around 800 or 900 years old.
UNESCO States It is:
“…a masterpiece of medieval Georgia’s Golden Age, a period of political strength and economic growth between the 11th and 13th centuries.“
If one thought that the Gergeti Trinity Church in Kazbeki was remote, then Ushguli can be considered the highest (and perhaps) most remote village in Europe. The small monastery here doesn’t have the same notoriety as the others, but it is perhaps even more impressive. Ushguli alone is a reason to plan a trip to the country of Georgia.
It is located in the most remote part of the Svaneti region of Georgia (a ridiculously remote and historically inaccessible region). It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Upper Svaneti. Although there are guesthouses in this secluded and peaceful location, your base is likely to be in the relatively larger and more developed town of Mestia.
Here the best guesthouse is Nino Ratiani’s guest house. Nino Ratiani was the first to open a guesthouse in the valley over 25 years ago. She has an amazing experience dealing with tourists in the area (and offers the very best in Georgian cuisine and hospitality).
She can organize any visit to Ushguli and its ridiculously remote monastery (or anything else in the area).
- Elevation: 2,100 meters or 6,900 feet
- Background : Shkhara (one of the highest peaks of the Greater Caucasus Mountains)
- Population: About 200 people (70 families) live in the village
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