Vardzia Cave Monastery in Georgia
Country of Georgia, found in the Caucuses region of Eurasia, is home to a historical treasure – the Vardzia Cave Monastery. Situated in the Erusheti Mountain, this cave city reflects the historical aura of the 12th century, encapsulating an intriguing part of Georgian history appealing to archeologists, anthropologists, and casual travelers alike.
Vardzia cave monastery, carved out of rock by the Varde river, depicts a fortified monastic complex that stretches over half a kilometer. It’s nested up to nineteen tiers high, comprises around 600 rooms, including cells, stables, bathhouses, and a massive church, making it one of the most elaborate cave monasteries in the world.
This substantial underground monastery was initiated during the golden age of Georgia, by Queen Tamar in 1185, as a contingency to the Mongol onslaughts. It served as a refuge spot for the densely populated, flourishing kingdom of Georgia that was a striking fusion of Persian, Byzantine, and Armenian influences.
An earthquake in the 13th century destroyed approximately two-thirds of the city. Despite this catastrophic event, the surviving 13 tiers of the monastery display its original layout, providing visitors with a hint of this massive structure’s initial grandeur. Renowned archaeologists still are fascinated by the innovative design and layout of this enticing cave dwelling which is poised on the verge of disappearance due to natural degradation.
One of the most imposing features of the Vardzia Cave Monastery is the Church of the Dormition. It exhibits exceptional artistic works, such as the wall paintings of king George III, queen Tamar, and Christ Pantocrator that give visitors an insight into the religious beliefs and political history of the kingdom of Georgia.
Today, this ancient marvel serves as a vibrant symbol of Georgia’s rich cultural heritage. It has been declared as a protected architectural monument and consolidating its stability is underway. Visiting here is like stepping back in time and traversing through a maze that stretches deep into the heart of the mountains, igniting a feeling of intrigue and awe at our ancestors’ tenacity and resourcefulness.