David Gareja Monastery

The David Gareja Monastery lies on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja, in the Sagarejo municipality in the Kakheti region in Georgia.

The monastery was founded in the 6th century by St. David Garejeli, one of the 13 Assyrian Fathers. It saw further development during the 9th century under St. Hilarion. The monastery was always particularly patronized by the Georgian royal and noble families. In 1154 Demetrius I of Georgia even retreated here after he was forced by his son to abdicate.

Despite the remoteness of its location in a desert-like area the monastery was an important centre of religious and cultural activity, having its heyday from the late 11th to the early 13th century. In 1265 it suffered from the invasion of the Mongols and in 1615 by the Iranian Safavids, each time being restored afterwards.

In 1921, Georgia was invaded by the Red Army and became a Soviet state, David Gareja Monastery was then closed down and remained uninhabited.

During the Soviet-Afghan War, between 1979 and 1989 the monastery was used as a training site and military firing range for the Soviet army which caused a lot of damage. After protests in 1987 the army stopped briefly but resumed firing practices in 1988. Following public outrage the military base was finally closed down.

After Georgia's independance, in 1991, monastic life in the monastery was revived. In 1996 however, military exercises again started near the monastery. This time by the Georgian army. Again protests followed and the next year the military moved away.

The David Gareja Monastery has an irregular ground plan following the outline of the rocks of a small valley. It is partially made up out of rock-hewn rooms, cells and churches. It is also situated almost on the border with Azerbaijan causing a border dispute which remains unresolved to this day.

When driving to the monastery one first encounters a large square watch tower, on top of the ridge forming the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan; Chichkhitury.

At present the David Gareja Monastery can freely be visited during opening hours. It is still a functioning monastery. A great complex. I would advise that you use a 4WD car to get there because of the state of the dead end road leading to the monastery. Although the locals sometimes do it in their battered Lada's...


Gallery

David Gareja Monastery

The David Gareja Monastery lies on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja, in the Sagarejo municipality in the Kakheti region in Georgia.

The monastery was founded in the 6th century by St. David Garejeli, one of the 13 Assyrian Fathers. It saw further development during the 9th century under St. Hilarion. The monastery was always particularly patronized by the Georgian royal and noble families. In 1154 Demetrius I of Georgia even retreated here after he was forced by his son to abdicate.

Despite the remoteness of its location in a desert-like area the monastery was an important centre of religious and cultural activity, having its heyday from the late 11th to the early 13th century. In 1265 it suffered from the invasion of the Mongols and in 1615 by the Iranian Safavids, each time being restored afterwards.

In 1921, Georgia was invaded by the Red Army and became a Soviet state, David Gareja Monastery was then closed down and remained uninhabited.

During the Soviet-Afghan War, between 1979 and 1989 the monastery was used as a training site and military firing range for the Soviet army which caused a lot of damage. After protests in 1987 the army stopped briefly but resumed firing practices in 1988. Following public outrage the military base was finally closed down.

After Georgia's independance, in 1991, monastic life in the monastery was revived. In 1996 however, military exercises again started near the monastery. This time by the Georgian army. Again protests followed and the next year the military moved away.

The David Gareja Monastery has an irregular ground plan following the outline of the rocks of a small valley. It is partially made up out of rock-hewn rooms, cells and churches. It is also situated almost on the border with Azerbaijan causing a border dispute which remains unresolved to this day.

When driving to the monastery one first encounters a large square watch tower, on top of the ridge forming the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan; Chichkhitury.

At present the David Gareja Monastery can freely be visited during opening hours. It is still a functioning monastery. A great complex. I would advise that you use a 4WD car to get there because of the state of the dead end road leading to the monastery. Although the locals sometimes do it in their battered Lada's...


Gallery