The name “shavnabada” composes of two Georgian words – “shavi” (meaning “black”) and “nabadi” (meaning “cloak”). Legend has it that a young warrior on a white horse fought bravely in a battle and the king then sent him a black cloak as a reward. After the battle, the warrior, together with the other brothers in arms, held a thanksgiving service at a nearby church, but after the prayer, the young man went missing. The others started to look for him, but without success. Later, they recognised the warrior with the white horse in the fresco of Saint George. Since then, the mountain has been called Shavnabada, and the church has been called Shavnabada St. George Church.
St. George's Church is the main structure of the monastery, dating back to the 12th century. Two centuries later, another church and a bell tower were built within the complex and the monastery itself has been found in 1992.
There is also an icon-painting school at Shavnabada Monastery and the majority of the icons in the church were created by local painters. The monastery also has a cellar and produces a variety of wines.