Udabno Monastery

Udabno Monastery

The Udabno Мonastery (meaning “desert” in Georgian) is located on the slopes of the Amaghleba Mountain in Chokhatauri Municipality, close to the St. John the Baptist Monastery Complex. Despite being named a desert, you will find springs and dense forests all around the place, which makes you wonder about the origin of the name. In case of this half-cave monastery, “udabno” refers to the solitary life of the monks.

The Architecture of Udabno Monastery

Udabno Monastery is one of the oldest in the Guria Region. The main building of the complex is a small hall-type church partially carved into a cliff. Some researchers believe that the monument is from the 6th century, but it is difficult to establish an exact date since the monument has been restored multiple times and older construction material was re-used.

There are four caves on the slope of the monastery where, presumably, chapels once were. The eastern and southern parts of the church are carved into the cliff, while its western and northern sides are constructed out of well-hewn, brightly-coloured, square stones. Walls are decorated with various low-relief depictions. 

The History of Udabno Monastery

Udabno Monastery was famous for its educational activities, especially during the 19th century. At that time there were no schools in the villages, so people would come there to learn scripture, philosophy, languages, hymn-singing, calligraphy, and painting.

At the same time, religious literature was written, religious books were translated, and manuscripts were copied.

The monastery had a rich library with the especially notable, “Udabno Mravaltavi”, which may have been written in the 9th century. This piece ranks of great importance alongside the ancient Georgian manuscript – the Sinai Polycephalion, copied in 864. 

Unfortunately, the antiquities of the monastery, including manuscripts, books, and icons, were destroyed after the destruction of the church in 1958, during the Soviet regime. The only things that survived were the silver icon of St. John the Baptist and, luckily, the “Udabno Mravaltavi”, although in an incomplete form.

A new church was built in 2006, with a supporting wall made from old stones.

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