Martvili Monastery

Martvili Monastery

From the town of Martvili in Samegrelo Region, a large monastic complex built on the top of a mountain can be admired, as a shining example of the beauty of Georgian ecclesiastical architecture. From the town center, a road and cable car make the complex easily and quickly accessible. The monastery was built in the 7th century and its present appearance of course differs somewhat from those times, having undergone changes over the centuries.
Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti

The main church of the complex is named after the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Almost the entire region of Samegrelo can be seen from the courtyard of this staggering monastery. A large oak tree is growing in its yard, and according to the local tales, before Christianity, an even more prominent oak tree stood on the site of the monastery, under which pagan rituals were performed. The sacrifices were made to the goddess of family, fertility, and prosperity. That  oak tree was cut down during the Christianization of western Georgia under the instructions of Apostle Andrew.

Martvili Monastery is also called Martvili-Chkondidi Monastery, as chkondidi means “big oak” in  the  Megrelian language.

In general, the worship of plants, especially trees, was widespread in western Georgia - and the oak tree, also known as “Chkoni," had an enormously symbolic meaning. Moreover, nowhere else in Georgia today is there such a variety of flora as in Martvili.

Since the 10th century, the monastery has been a prominent educational center where monks translated books, wrote and copied documents. In addition, Giorgi Chkondideli, the educator and advisor to one of the most prominent figures in the history of Georgia, the distinguished King Davit Aghmashenebeli (the Builder), used to work there.

The monastery was inactive during the Soviet era, with monks and nuns returning to serve here only in 1998. Meanwhile, a patriarchal residence has been built in the vicinity of the church, where the Monastery of St. Apostle Andrew and the Monastery of St. Nino were founded.

On the way up to the Martvili Monastery Complex, you can also see its small farm and buy embroidery, candles, and various souvenirs made by the local nuns.

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