Skhalta Monastery

Skhalta Monastery

One hundred kilometres from Batumi, in the Khulo Valley, you will find a unique example of medieval architecture and monumental art - Skhalta Monastery. Preserved in its original form and considered to be the oldest standing monument in Ajara, it is a must-see while you’re enjoying the Black Sea coast.

The History of Skhalta Monastery

So little has been preserved about this church, that even its date of construction cannot be accurately established. Researchers are still debating whether it was built between X-XI or XII-XIII centuries.

There is, however, an interesting legend relating to the monastery. They say that once, when the hordes of enemies were invading Georgia, Queen Tamar moved to Khikhani Fortress, from which she was using a secret path to pray at Skhalta Church.

The Architecture of Skhalta Monastery

The hall-type church, built on the right bank of the river, is fully lit by nine arched windows and two round ones. The walls, faced with hewn stone blocks, were covered in 14th-15th century frescoes, but only the ones on the altar, dome, and western wall are preserved today.

On one of the church’s façades is a depiction of John the Baptist as an adolescent. This is the only fresco in Georgia to depict John the Baptist’s youth.

Some distance away from the church, there is a rectangular wine cellar on the side of the road where an old wine press and Qvevris are kept. The is also a medieval bridge over the river Skhalta.

Nowadays Skhalta Church is still active, together with a monastery next to it.

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