Gelati Monastery - a cultural hub of Georgia

Anano Chikhradze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

While traveling to Georgia, you always have a feeling that you are touching the past. An ancient origin of our historical monuments is always interesting for the visitors. In this article, I will tell you about the Gelati Monastery that is a cultural hub of Georgia. 


The Monastery of Gelati is a medieval monastic complex that is located near Kutaisi, in the I[mereti]( Region. It was founded by one of the greatest kings Davit IV in 1106. The Gelati Monastery is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is important for us because it reminds us of the “Golden Age of Georgia”. The monastery is characterized by the beautiful frescoes and paintings that make the interior very attractive. One of the largest medieval Orthodox monasteries was also a center of science and education. While visiting the Gelati Monastery, you will realize how Georgians are proud that they kept this monument until now. It is a memory of the period of political strength and economic growth between the 11th and 13th century. The Monastery of Gelati also shows the value of our religion, and it makes Georgian culture richer and more interesting. 

Picture © Credits to bruev

In 1510, the Ottoman Turks burnt the complex. However, one of our kings, Bagrat III restored it right away. The main cathedral in the Gelati Monastery is a Cathedral of the Virgin, and it is famous for the brightest and most colorful frescoes in Georgia. They were painted from the 12th to 18th century. The Church of St George is located in the east side of the cathedral, and also you can find the smaller Church of St Nicholas nearby. The main cultural value of the Gelati Monastery was driven by the Academy that was located in this complex. In the Academy, the students could learn many subjects, such as philosophy, theology, sciences, and painting. They were also taught how to write important chronicles and translations.

The Gelati Monastery today

Fortunately, most of the churches of this complex have survived. It includes the main Cathedral and the Bell Tower nearby. You can also see here the remains of the Academy. Our greatest king David the Builder was the most powerful king of Georgia, but his personality was surprisingly humble. According to his wish, his grave was placed inside the south gate of the Gelati Monastery. David wanted that everybody who enters the monastery steps on his tomb. Ironically, all the visitors try to avoid stepping on the grave of the humble king. 

Picture © Credits to bruev

While visiting Georgia, try not to miss this place, especially, if you like history and culture. You might have already read about many other cultural places in my previous articles. However, if you have limited time and want to feel the wealth of Georgian culture, then this place is definitely a must-see destination. The Gelati Monastery will make you feel the history and will show you the cultural hub of Georgia. 

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