The 12th century Gelati Monastery, located outside Kutaisi, is featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Monastery of Gelati is a masterpiece of the Golden Age of medieval Georgia, a period of political strength and economic growth between the 11th and 13th centuries. One of the largest medieval Orthodox monasteries, Gelati was also a center of science and education and the Academy it housed was one of the most important centers of culture in ancient Georgia.
The Gelati Academy itself was founded in 1106 near Gelati Monastery on the initiative of King David IV (“David the Builder”) who made the biggest donation to the cause and was subsequently buried there- you can see him modest tomb inside.
Gelati Academy gathered some of the most celebrated Georgian scientists, theologians and philosophers, many of whom had previously been active at various orthodox monasteries abroad, such as the Mangana Monastery in Constantinople. Petritsi and Arsen (“Ikaltoeli”) are just two examples.
Visit the monastery and academy on the hillside 11km from Kutaisi, western Georgia. The monastery is richly decorated with mural paintings from the 12th to 17th centuries, as well as boasting a 12th century mosaic in the apse of the main church. Take a minibus from behind the Kutaisi Drama Theater (1 GEL) or a taxi (15 GEL) and, if you have the money, hire a guide to tell you all the secrets!
Main photo: travelsofabookpacker.com