After one day discovering Tbilissi, the city capital of Georgia, the following day we hired a private car + driver to do a day trip to Davit Gareja. Davit Gareja is an ensemble of monasteries, most of them inside natural caves, spread over a remote area on the border with Azerbaijan. Its lunar landscape and architecture are very impressive and unique in Georgia.
The main monastery is Lavra, built on three levels during different centuries. Inside, the courtyard is the center of the monastery’s life and around it there are many caves containing the monk’s cells or small chapels. Particularly interesting is the VIth century cave – church Peristsvaleva (Transfiguration Church) with the tombs of Davit Gareja (one of the 13 ascetic Syrian fathers who returned from the Middle East to spread Christianity and the founder of this monastery) and two of his disciples. It is a very spiritual place and women should cover their hair and shoulders inside.
After this visit we did a short climb to reach Udabno, on the other side of the hill. There were many caves on this side, with interesting Xth – XIIIth century frescoes on ceilings and walls. I did not visit all the caves because at a certain point the path was much deteriorated and my ankle was still fragile but the few caves that I saw were very impressive and the perfect shelter from the terrible summer heat.
The path that links all these caves runs parallel with the Azeri – Georgian border so the picture below was taken from Georgia but I am in Azerbaijan 🙂