Vardzia cave monastery
Vardzia caves are carved in the volcanic plateau of Aspindza municipality, Samtskhe Province, on the left bank of the Mtkvari River, at an altitude of 1300 m and represent the youngest mediaeval cave complex in Georgia. Excavations have proved that the area of Vardzia was inhabited during the Bronze Age. Later on, in the 12th century, it was built on thirteen vertical levels and served as a military base coupled with orthodox Christian monastery near the Turkish border.
During the reign of the Lady King Tamar (1184 - 1213), the importance of Vardzia significantly increased and achieved great prosperity. The historical sources tell us about the Queen's rich contributions to the monastery and describe the luxury of its caves. The chief sanctuary of southwestern Georgia was housing 2 000 monks until an earthquake ruined it in 1283. Another earthquake in 1456 was followed by invasion of Persian army. In 1551 shakh Takhmasp totally destroyed the monastery in 1551, people left Vardzia cave complex consisting of approximately 3000 rooms.
Nowadays, the third of the site is preserved which includes about 600 caves: churches and chapels, dormitory dwellings, refectories, stables, barracks, bakeries, wine presses and stores. The small hall type church carved in the fifth-floor rock next to natural spring cave features fresco of King Tamar and her father Kind George III (12th c), - her portrait represents the fourth original image of the queen who survived.
Working hours: every day 09:30-18:00
Dress code required
Ticket price: 8 GEL for adults
Electric minibus service fee: 1 GEL
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