Alaverdi Monastery

Detailed Information

Alaverdi Monastery – “… above the Shtori Khevi, west of Alazani, over the plain of Kakheti mountain slope, there stands Alaverdi, a large construction with outer walls, palaces and a dome…It was built by a saint father Ioseb and made it Saint George’s monastery, and he is buried there himself“ (Prince Vakhushti).

 The Alaverdi Saint George’s Cathedral is one of the best known religious centers in our country. The first small church was built over an ancient pagan place of worship, as early as the 6th c in the time of Ioseb of Alaverdi. It might have been built by the saint father himself. However, the big church was built by Kvirike, King of the Kakhs (1010-1037) at a time when the Kakheti principality enjoyed prosperity and power. After that, Alaverdi was made an episcopal cathedral.

 Alaverdi Cathedral is one of the most prominent examples of medieval Georgian architecture and the biggest construction in Kakheti. It is the tallest edifice in medieval Georgian architecture. The cathedral has been restored a number of times after being destroyed by earthquakes and invasions. The altar preserves fragments of a painted inscription which mentions David the Builder (1089 – 1125). After Kakheti’s annexation in 1105, apparently he took great care of this important religious center.

 In the second half of the 15th century King Alexander I (1476-1511) had the drum of the dome and a damaged part of the wall restored_ and donated serfs and estates to the monastery. Alaverdi was renewed and embellished by a number of rulers in the 16th to 18th centuries including Alexander II, David II Imam-Kuli-Khan, Archil II, Erekle I, Queen Tamar and her son Erekle II.

 Apart from the cathedral, the monastery includes an Episcopal Palace attached to the towered wall with a 16th century refectory Peikar Khan’s cooling facility from the 17th century_and a wine cellar on the ground floor.

 Alaverdi was a strong center for educational and scholarly activities where excellent writers, calligraphers, manuscript painters and producers worked at different times. Here lie Kings of Kakheti Today the Alaverdi Monastery is the most important religious center in our country.

 Alaverdi cathedral used to house greatest relics. The True Cross, a relic from the Savior’s Cross, was brought to Georgia by Leon, King of the Kakhis (1518 – 1574) after receiving it for his contribution to restoring the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, has attracted pilgrims for centuries. One of the main relics of the church is the resting place of St. Ioseb of Alaverdi. The most outstanding of these were sacred relics of Queen Ketevan. Precious ecclesiastical items donated to Alaverdi and treasures from other churches and monasteries were preserved here too.

 Among numerous relics of Alaverdi, the Gospel transcribed in the Virgin’s Laura of Kalipos Monastery (the Black Mountain, Antioch) in the 11th century is the most outstanding (A-484; preserved at the National Center of Manuscripts). It is particularly remarkable that the manuscript includes “The Letter of Abgar’ and the Mandylion (the first image of Jesus not made by human hands).

 Archaeological excavations carried out in Kakheti have revealed a number of wine cellars and qvevris. Well-organized estates and wine cellars were situated near trade routes. Although the main consumers of wine outside the region were mountain populations, wine was also exported from the country in large quantities. A 11th c wine cellar was revived in Alaverdi Monastery and today the wines produced in the Alaverdi wine cellars are widely popular, and especially the traditional wine made in qvevri.

 In 2013, the ancient Georgian traditional qvevri wine-making method was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of HumanityIn addition to wine making, Alaverdi is famous for apiculture and its excellent honey.

 In times past when a Kakhetian famer completed a harvest, he would take all his family in the cart and carry them to Alaverdi to worship the True Cross.