You’ve probably heard of Georgian churches, they are the first thing that is associated with Georgia, alongside with Borjomi mineral water. No wonder one of the most popular destinations in Georgia is a complex of monasteries – David Gareja. The monastery complex is located in the East of Georgia,70 km away from Tbilisi, in Kakheti. Part of the complex is located on in region of Azerbaijan; this circumstance caused disputes between two countries.
This complex was founded by an Assyrian monk David Garejeli who came to Georgia to spread Christianity. Major religious sightseeing place in Georgia is comprised of hundreds of temples, churches, cells, and rooms, which are spread out for 25 km in the slopes of Mount Gareja. All 14 monastery ensembles were built in different times, the first one – Lavra, was built by David Garejeli himself in 6th century; it’s also the only inhabited part of the complex.
People believe that 3 visits to David Gareja Monastery equals to pilgrimage to the Holy Land, there’s a legend behind this belief. David Garejeli arrived in Jerusalem, but decided that he isn’t worth of walking one the ground, where Jesus used to walk. Praying, he lifted 3 stones from the ground and headed back home. Today one of these stones is being kept in Tbilisi. Alongside with having importance in cultural and religious aspects of Georgia, the monastery complex is known for finest examples fresco paintings.
Some monasteries are covered in thousand year religious paintings. These paintings were done in times of flourishing of school of frescoes. David Gareja Monastery is, probably, the most significant religious sight in Georgia. Anyone who want to see how perfectly buildings blend in with nature or ancient frescoes done by best masters of those times should visit this place.