Chelishi Monastery in Racha

Chelishi Monastery in Racha

In the beautiful Racha Region, 4 kilometers away from Nikortsminda village, in the deep gorge of Shareula river, stands a church of the Mother of God. Around the church are ruins of the monastic ensemble buildings – remnant of the distant past.
Racha-Lechkhumi & Kvemo Svaneti

History of Chelishi Monastery

Built at the foot of Sashevardno Mountain, Chelishi Monastery used to be one of the cultural centers of Racha Region, mentioned in manuscripts passed down to us. Monks lived in the Chelishi desert for almost ten centuries, where they received education. Consequently, the monastery played a major role in the religious and cultural life of Racha.

Many old manuscripts were kept in the Chelishi monastery, and multiple artifacts from it are preserved in different museums in Georgia. In 1902, the local Archimandrite, canonized Ambrosi Khelaia, discovered a burial vault in the churchyard, where the previously unknown manuscript of one of the first Georgian historical-hagiographical works "Moktsevai Kartlisai" ("Kartli's Conversion") was kept. 

A few meters away from the monastery, the cells for monks are carved into the rock. Most probably, there was even an underground tunnel that led to the cells from the monastery.

Monks settled in the Chelishi desert in the IX-X centuries when most likely, the church was built. The temple regained its original appearance in the second half of the XVI century after thorough repair.

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