The monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, then a small village and former pagan religious center dedicated to the Moon. At a height of over 55 meters, Alaverdi Cathedral was the tallest religious building in Georgia, until the construction of the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, which was consecrated in 2004. However its overall size is smaller than the cathedral of Svetitskhoveli in Mtskheta. The monastery is the focus of the annual religious celebration Alaverdoba. Situated in the heart of the world’s oldest wine region, the monks also make their own wine, known as Alaverdi Monastery Cellar.
Part of the complex is located in the Agstafa rayon of Azerbaijan and has become subject to a border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan. The area is also home to protected animal species and evidence of some of the oldest human habitations in the region.
Gremi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti in the 16th and 17th centuries. Founded by Levan of Kakheti, it functioned as a lively trading town on the Silk Road and royal residence until being razed to the ground by the armies of Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1615. The town never regained its past prosperity and the kings of Kakheti transferred their capital to Telavi in the mid-17th century. There was big Armenian population. The Russian diplomat Fedor Volkonsky, who was here in the 17th century, said: “Armenians have own church and market behind one was other church”. He also said about 10 Armenian churches near the palace of king
The town appears to have occupied the area of approximately 40 hectares and to have been composed of three principal parts – the Archangels’ Church complex, the royal residence and the commercial neighborhood. Systematic archaeological studies of the area guided by A. Mamulashvili and P. Zak’araia were carried out in 1939-1949 and 1963-1967, respectively. Since 2007, the monuments of Gremi have been proposed for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Ikalto monastery was founded by Saint Zenon, one of the 13 Syrian Fathers, in the late 6th century. It was known as one of the most significant cultural-scholastic centres of Georgia. An academy was founded at the monastery during king David the Builder by Arsen Ikaltoeli (Ikaltoeli meaning from Ikalto) in the early 12th century. The Academy of Ikalto trained its students in theology, rhetoric, astronomy, philosophy, geography, geometry chanting but also more practical skills such as pottery making, metal work, viticulture and wine making and pharmacology. According to a legend the famous 12th century Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli studied there.
There are three churches on the monastery grounds – Khvtaeba, Kvelatsminda and Sameba. The main church, Ghvtaeba (Holy Spirit), was built in the 8th–9th century on the site of an older church (in which Saint Zenon had been buried). In 1616 the Persian invaders led by Shah Abbas I set the Ikalto Academy on fire and it ceased to exist.
LAGODEKHI PROTECTED AREAS
The church was recently restored, stone masonry repaired, roof rebuilt, windows put in place.
Signagi is located in the Kakheti region of Georgia, settled since the Paleolithic period. Signagi as a settlement is first recorded in the early 18th century. In 1762, King Heraclius II of Georgia sponsored the construction of the town and erected a fortress to defend the area from marauding attacks by Dagestan tribesmen.
As of the 1770 census, Signagi was settled by 100 families, chiefly craftsmen and merchants. When Georgia was annexed by Imperial Russia in 1801, Signagi (Signakh) was officially granted town status and became a centre of Signakh uyezd (Russian: Сигнахский уезд) within Tiflis Governorate in 1802. In 1812, Signak joined the rebellion with the rest of Kakheti against the Russian rule. During the Caucasian War, the town “was considered an important point on account of its proximity to” Dagestan.
The town quickly rose in its size and population and became an agricultural center under the Soviet Union. The severe economic crisis in post-Soviet Georgia heavily affected the town, but a major reconstruction project recently launched by the Government of Georgia and co-funded by several international organizations intends to address an increasing tourist interest and modernize infrastructure.
City-fortress consists of two parts: citadel, located on the plateau of the rocky hill and city on the slope.
City was surrounded by the powerful protective wall with nine quadrangular towers. The towers are three-storied, covered by tiled roof with loop-holes. City gates were in the first tower.
A royal palace – two-storied building with a vault – was located in the eastern part of citadel. Premises were illuminated by big and broad windows and they had hanging balconies.
In the middle part of the citadel was ancient church ‘Jvar-Patiosani’ (Church of the Fair Cross). There were dwelling outhouses opposite the church and big reservoirs to keep water.
The whole main system of protection was established in the epoch of Vakhtang Gorgasal. Ujarma is referred to the best samples of fortification constructions of the ancient Georgia.
In the second period (12th century) the destroyed walls were restored and new fortifications and dwelling places were constructed.
The third period (17th – 18th cc) was represented restoration of destroyed parts of the citadel’s walls.