David Gareja Monastery
David Gareja is a Georgian Orthodox monastery situated in Kakheti, Georgia, on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja, about 60–70 km southeast of the capital Tbilisi. The complex consosts of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face.
The monastery was founded in the 6th century by David (St. David Garejeli), one of the Assyrian monks who then arrived in the country. His disciples Dodo and Luciane expanded the initial lavra and founded two other monasteries known as Dodo's Rka and Natlismtsemeli. The monastery developed under the rule of the 9th-century Georgian saint Ilarion. The Georgian king Demetre I, even chose this monastery as a place of his confinement after he abdicated the throne.
After the Georgian monarchy downfell, the monastery wasf declined for a long period and in 1265 destroyed by the Mongol army, but was restored by the Georgian kings. In 1615 it survived the Persian invasion, when the monks were massacred and the monastery's unique manuscripts were destroyed.
After the Bolsheviks took over of Georgia in 1921, the monastery was declinedn and remained uninhabited. In the years of the Soviet War in Afghanistan, the monastery's territory was used as a training ground for the Soviet military that damaged the unique cycle of murals in the monastery. In 1987, due to the efforts and protests of a group of Georgian students, the Soviet defense ministry officials finally agreed to move a military firing range from the monastery. After some 10,000 Georgians demonstrated in the streets of Tbilisi and a group of students launched a hunger strike at the monastery, the army base was finally removed.
After Georgia regained its independence in 1991, the monastery of David Gareja was revived. Even though in 1996 the ministry resumed the military exercises in this terrerory, many Georgian activists and students were able to cancel it. The monastery remains active today and serves as a popular destination of tourism and pilgrimage.
Points of Interest
Mose Toidze House Museum Georgian National Museum Giorgi Leonidze Museum of Literature Museum of Fine Arts Museum of Georgian Folk Architecture Museum of Songs and Musical Instruments Museum of Soviet Occupation Simon Janashia Museum State Silk Museum
Anchiskhati Basilica Betania monastery Church of the Red Gospel David Gareja Monastery Gergeti Trinity Church Jvari Monastery Kashveti Church Lower Bethlehem Metekhi Temple Sameba Sioni Cathedral St Davit Ahgmashenebeli Church