Along the way from Tbilisi to Telavi there are two monasteries you won’t want to miss. The only thing Shuamta Monasteries have in common is their names: Dzveli Shuamta and Akhali Shuamta. Shuamta Monasteries were built in different eras, they have very different atmospheres and architectural styles. The name of the monasteries is a combination of word “shua”- in between and “mta”-a mountain, which means “among the mountains”, although, the monasteries are surrounded by greenery. Due to close location of monasteries you’ll be able to admire two completely different monasteries in one day!
Dzveli Shuamta Monastery is translated as Old Shuamta Monastery is located 7 km to the West from Telavi, Kakheti region. This old Georgia monastery is located on in the forest on Tsvigombori Mountain. It’s unknown when exactly the monastery was built, but it’s likely to be in 5th century, before arrival of 13 Assyrian Fathers in 6th century. Old Shuamta monastery is a complex comprised of 3 churches; one of the churches is among the oldest churches of Georgia, other two date back to 7th century. Near the churches there’re kverli; these large, clay jugs were used for winemaking centuries ago. Old monastery doesn’t function; you won’t even have to buy tickets.
The atmosphere of Dzveli Shuamta is very peaceful, although, it’s quiet a popular destination. Akhali Shuamta or New Shuamta is located 2 km away from Dzveli Shuamta. It’s a functioning female monastery that was established in 16th century by Queen Tinatin. The legend says that the Queen had always known that she had to build a monastery; when she was a little girl she had dreams about a certain place for building, but didn’t know where it was. In 1520, the Queen was travelling through the Gombori pass to marry King Levan and saw place from her childhood dreams. Queen Tinatin built female monastery and 9 years later, after divorce with King Levan, became a nun in Akhali Monastery. Since it’s a functioning female monastery, its gates are always closed, visitor have to ring the bell to enter.