David Gareja Cave Monastery Complex In Georgia

David Gareja is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located in the Kakheti region in Georgia, on par with the cave cities of Vardzia and Uplistsikhe and the ancient city of Ushguli. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face. David Gareja Cave Monastery Complex was founded in the 6th century by David (St. David Garejeli), one of the thirteen Assyrian monks who arrived in the country at the same time.

Saint David Gareja, an Assyrian Monk, founded the monastic complex in the 6th century and it was steadily expanded during the following centuries

The monasteries were constructed from natural sandstone caves which were expanded by heating the rock with fire and then pouring on the water to split it; all have a church with a main nave and a lesser deacon’s nave to the north, as well as cells, stores, and other chambers. Above, a dozen of monasteries built towers to send signals between them. The high point of the monastic community was from the 10th century to the coming of the Mongols in the 13th century, although most survived until the early 17th century when Shah Abbas massacred 6,000 monks (all subsequently canonized) during the Easter Night procession. The monasteries were re-established, but declined and were abandoned in the 19th century, although three have now been re-established.

The monastery complex has been an important center of religious and cultural activity for hundreds of years and this reached its height between the 11th and 13th centuries

In the late 1990s, the monastery complex was revived and the inside of the cave structures has been covered with numerous murals and fresco paintings, a number of which have survived the test of time. It is once again a center of religious activity as well as an important destination for pilgrims and tourists alike.

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