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Gelati monastery complex

Gelati monastery complex is located in 11 km to the north-east from the city of Kutaisi, in the gorge of river Tskaltsitela. The monastery was founded by the king of Georgia, David IV Agmashenebeli (1089-1125). The territory of the monastery is restricted by a fence and consists of 5 constructions. These edifices are the main cathedral of the Assumption of Virgin Mary (1106, sizes of the Cathedral: 35m x 36m x 34m), church of St. George to the east of the main cathedral (XII century AD), two-level church of St. Nicholas (XII-XIV centuries), bell tower with stone arch built over spring to the north-west from the main cathedral, and a building of Gelati Academy.

The main cathedral is embellished with limestone and is rich with mural paintings. In the arch of the altar the mosaic of Gelati is preserved (the Virgin Mary with adolescent, Archangels Michael and Gabriel), in the western entrance there is a XII century fresco with the image of a church assembly; in the southern eukterion there are two portraits of the king of Georgia, David VI Narin (1246-1293) (in royal garments and casual national costume – chokha); on the northern wall there are images of the members of Imereti royal family (XVI century), next is the portrait of David IV Agmashenebeli (1089-1125) restored in XVI century.

To the south of the fence of Gelati monastery, in the main entrance, there is a tombstone of David Ag­ma­shenebeli (the tomb itself presumably is in the church). According to historical sources, Gelati was the burial site of the united Georgia kings, and all kings of XII-XIII centuries (David IV, Demetre I, Giorgi III, Tamar, Giorgi IV) and kings of Imereti of XVI-XIX centuries (Bagrat III, Giorgi II, Giorgi III, Aleksandre V, Solomon I, the last Georgian king Solomon II) are laid to rest in Gelati.

Gelati was a royal monastery in XII-XV centuries and reported directly to the king and the first minister (Mtsignobartukhutsesi). Rector of Gelati Academy, or Chief Confessor at the royal court, was considered to be a high profile figure, arguably tantamount to Catholicos. The senior monkhood of the monastery were members of the Royal Council.

In the 20-ies of the XVI century Bishop cathedra was set up in Gelati, and at the end of XVI century the seat of the Catholicos-Patriarch of Western Georgia was removed from Bichvinta to a more secure venue in Gelati. In various times the richest Georgian manuscripts and national treasure (Khakhuli Icon of the Virgin Mary) were kept in Gelati. In 1923 the Bolsheviks closed the monastery. Its renovation occurred in 1990.

Gelati Academy – the most important education center in the medieval Georgia - is part of the Gelati monastery complex. People of those times compared Academy with Jerusalem and Athens, since education process here embodied traditions of Antique and Christian sciences. Along with learning process, the Academy was noted for translation and scientific research activity and creation of original works.

<span style="\&quot;color:" rgb(34,="" 34,="" 34);="" font-family:="" arial,="" verdana,="" sans-serif;="" font-size:="" 12px;\"="">100 Sights of Georgia

Edited by Manana Baliashvili
Design and layout by
Irma Liparteliani
Elene Varamashvili
Translation by
Guram Abashidze
Images by N. Elizbarashvili, B. Kupatadze, G. Dvalashvili, 
Agency of Protected Areas and Association “Nekresi”
Copyright © 2011. N. ElizbaraSvili, B. KupataZe
Copyright © 2011. Publishing House “Clio”

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