Driving through Kakheti, Nekresi is visible from kilometers away, carved daringly into a mountainside, its red roofs contrasting against the trees around it.
The site was established in the 4th century under the patronage of King Trdat, King of Iberia, and the religious guidance of St. Abibos Nekreseli, one of the thirteen Syrian fathers. The complex includes several ecclesiastical buildings: the Blessed Virgin Church (VI-VII century), a basilica church that is one of the earliest surviving Christian churches in Georgia (IV century), a two-story bishop’s palace (IX century), a four-story tower (XVI century), and a wine cellar.
Arriving to Nekresi, visitors can walk up the steep, winding road to the complex (the sign says it’s 1.5 km, but it feels like a lot longer!) or pay 1.50 GEL to take a shuttle bus. Inside the main church, wine is, unusually, for sale. The church also has a glass box filled with the bones of the monks who have served at the monastery, a striking memento mori.
Nekresi is definitely a must-see in Kakheti – if only for the views from the top!