New Shuamta – a medieval monastery in Kakheti

Anano Chikhradze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

One of the main reasons why Ge[orgia]( is so attractive to its visitors is that it has a very rich history and culture. In this article, I am going to tell you about a medieval monastery that is located just seven kilometers away from the city of Telavi. The shortest way to New Shuamta is through the Gombori Mountain range. That road gives you a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful views of the Caucasus Mountains.

A legend about New Shuamta

In the 16th century, the King of Kakheti, Levan, got married to Tinatin. When a newly married couple was returning to Kakheti, it got darker, so they decided to spend a night on the territory of Shuamta. Queen Tinatin was always carrying the Khakhuli Icon with her.

On that day, she had it with her as well. However, in the morning, she could not move this icon from the place. This was when the Queen made a promise to God that she would build a church on this site. Only after her promise, she was able to move the Khakhuli icon. Tinatin kept her promise and made a beautiful church, where she placed this icon as well.

©Wikimedia/"Goldschmiedekunst und Toreutin in den Museen Georgiens" Aurora Leningrad 1986

The Khakhuli Icon

The Icon of Khakhuli is a Georgian decorative artwork that is made with gold and has precious stones. Its name comes from the Khakhuli Monastery, nowadays located on the territory of Turkey. The icon is the same as several centuries ago. Nothing was added or removed. The ancient ornaments of the old Georgian style make the Khakhuli Icon even more beautiful.

A description of the monastery

The church is cross-domed and decorated by the frescoes that tell the stories from the New and Old Testaments. You will also see the portraits of King Levan, Queen Tinatin and their son. Soon after the church was built, they founded a monastery on this territory. Tinatin became a nun later in her life and spent her last days there. The New Shuamta Monastery also had some political purposes.

It was chosen as a meeting place of King Alexander II and Russian King Boris Godunov in 1604. This meeting had a very important role in history, as it was about a friendly relationship between *Russia* and Georgia. Because of the fact that both countries have the same religion, the Georgians hoped that Russia would help them in the battle against their enemies. From the 19th century, the monastic life became slower, and during the Soviet U[nion](, it was closed. They transformed it into an orphan house. The monastic life in New Shuamta was renewed as from 1990.


The Monastery now

Nowadays, New Shuamta is a female monastery. The main activities of the nuns are the icons painting, translation of old manuscripts, taking care of the monastery agriculture, etc. And the famous Khakhuli Icon, it is nowadays protected in the Art Museum of Georgia. Many people are interested in this medieval monastery, and I think you will also enjoy exploring it by yourself. And finally, don't forget to visit other nice places in Kakheti, such as the Telavi city.

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