To the south-east from Tbilisi, within 60-70 km distance, in the semi-desert of historical Kakheti, in the rocky mountains of Gareji lies one of the outstanding monastery centers founded in VI century by Holy Father David Garejeli who came from Assyria.
At first he settled in the natural cave with his desciple Lukiane, which later became a noted monastery under the name of David’s Lavra and a center of GAREJI MONASTERY COMPLEX. In the course of time the monastery complex expanded, and today it consists of more than 20 historical monument. These monasteries are: Natlismtsemeli, Chichkhituri, Tetri Senakebi, Dodosrqa, Udabno, Davitis Lavra, Mravaltskaro, Tetri Udabno, Shavi Senakebi, Berebis Mta, Tsintskaro, Gansashori, Sabereebi, Berebis Seri, Satorge, Kotsakhura, Bertubani, Mgvime, Kolagiri, Didi Kvabebi, Patara Kvabebi, Veran-Gareja, Pirukugmari. In later Middle Ages monateries were linked with each other by means of lookout and alarm towers which have survived to our time in ruins. The importance of Gareji has especially risen in XII-XIII centuries when David Agmashenebeli transferred the monastery into a royal ownership with a tax-exempt status. The Monastery enjoyed donations from the Royal family of Bagrationi. The wardens of the Monastery were members of the king’s assembly and enjoyed the right to send honorable bounties to the court.
In 1424-1745 the monastery was under supervision of Catholicos. However, later it was again transferred to the royal ownership. The monasteries of David Gareji have underwent numerous hostile invasions, but Georgia’s potentates revived ransacked monasteries. David Gareji monasteries have created peculiar monastery and construction tradition and their own school of mural painting. Especially brilliant and impressive is painting of the church of Virgin Mary of the XII-XIIIcc. in the cave monastery Bertubani. Rich collection of manuscripts was kept at David Gareji.
Copyright © 2017. N. Elizbarashvili, B. Kupatadze
Copyright © 2017. “Dani” Publishing