Skhalta Monastery

A hundred kilometers (approximately 62 miles) from the lively city of Batumi, tucked away in the tranquil Khulo Valley, stands the Skhalta Monastery. This unique piece of medieval architecture and monumental art is the oldest standing monument in Ajara. A pilgrimage to Skhalta Monastery takes visitors on a journey back in time, making it a must-visit destination while exploring the Black Sea coast.

The history of Skhalta Monastery is enveloped in mystery. The exact date of its construction remains a topic of ongoing debate among researchers, who place it between the 10th and 13th centuries. The monastery is steeped in legends, with the most captivating one being about Queen Tamar. During enemy invasions, Queen Tamar was said to have retreated to the Khikhani Fortress and used a secret path from the fortress to pray at Skhalta Church.

Architecturally, Skhalta Monastery is a sight to behold. Its hall-type church is adorned with nine arched windows and two round ones, casting abundant natural light on its magnificent interior. The exterior walls of the monastery, faced with hewn stone blocks, were once canvases for 14th to 15th-century frescoes, of which only a few remain preserved today. Among these preserved murals, there's a rare depiction of John the Baptist in his youth, making Skhalta Monastery unique in Georgian art.

A short distance from the church, on the side of the road, lies a medieval wine cellar and a bridge over the Skhalta river, adding to the rich historical aura of the area. The wine cellar, equipped with an old wine press and Qvevris, takes one back to Georgia's traditional wine-making methods.

Today, the Skhalta Church continues to be a place of active worship and monastic life. The Skhalta Cathedral, dating back to the mid-13th century, has not only survived the trials of the Ottoman and Soviet periods but was also revived in 1990 to serve as the seat of the Georgian Orthodox bishop of Skhalta.

The Skhalta Monastery, with its ancient frescoes and imposing architecture, is more than just a religious site. It stands as a symbol of the resilience and enduring faith of the Georgian people, their rich cultural heritage, and their intricate relationship with history. As a bridge between past and present, Skhalta Monastery invites visitors to delve into the richness of Georgia's history, art, and spirituality.

Nearest to Skhalta Monastery

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