Samtavisi Church (11th century) represents the pinnacle of early Georgian stone-carving. Many of the ornamentations developed here were used as models for later and grander churches. Note that the Tree of Life on the eastern façade is represented as a vine - yet another proof of the importance of viticulture in Georgia.
The Samtavisi Cathedral is a rectangular 4-piered cruciform domed church. It illustrates a Georgian interpretation of the cross-in-square form which set an example for many churches built in the heyday of medieval Georgia. The exterior is distinguished by the liberal use of ornamental blind arcading. The apses do not project, but their internal position is marked by deep recesses in the wall. In contrast to earlier Georgian churches, the drum of the dome is taller surmounted by a conical roof. Artistically, the most rounded portion of the church is its five-arched eastern façade, dominated by the two niches and enlivened by a bold ornate cross motif.
Beyond the main church, the Samtavisi complex includes a badly damaged two-storied bishop’s residence, a small church, and a three-storied bell tower attached to the 3-5m high fence made of stone and brick. All these structures date to the 17th-18th centuries.