Gelati Monastery

Gelati (Georgian: გელათის მონასტერი) is a medieval monastic complex near Kutaisi in the Imereti region of western Georgia. Gelati was founded in 1106 by King David IV of Georgia and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Gelati Monastery
გელათის მონასტერი
Gelati 1661.jpg
The monastic complex of Gelati
AffiliationGeorgian Orthodox Church
LocationKutaisi, Imereti, Georgia
Gelati Monastery is located in Georgia
Gelati Monastery
Shown within Georgia
Gelati Monastery is located in Imereti
Gelati Monastery
Gelati Monastery (Imereti)
Geographic coordinates42°17′40″N 42°46′03″E / 42.2945472°N 42.7675583°E / 42.2945472; 42.7675583Coordinates: 42°17′40″N 42°46′03″E / 42.2945472°N 42.7675583°E / 42.2945472; 42.7675583
FounderDavid IV of Georgia ("David the Builder")
CompletedChurch of the Virgin, 1106;
Churches of St. George and St. Nicholas, 13th century
CriteriaCultural: iv
Inscription1994 (18th session)
Area4,2 ha
Buffer zone1,246 ha

The Gelati Monastery is in Kutaisi, Imereti Province, Georgia and is considered to be one of the most significant monastic and educational centers of medieval Georgia. Inside the monastery there are murals and imagery surrounding the interior of the church dating back to the12th-17th centuries.[1] It was one of the first monasteries in Georgia and adds to the Georgian culture.

The monastery was built in the early decades of the Georgian Golden Age and is known for the use of gold aesthetic in their paintings and buildings. It was built to show how Christianity encompassed all of this land and that Georgia was filled with Christian gospel all around even high up in the mountains. As the monastery is covered in arches that stretch over mountains show how encompassing the monastery is over the mountains and over the hills.


Historically, Gelati was one of the main cultural and intellectual centers in Georgia. It had an Gelati Academy that employed many Georgian scientists, theologians and philosophers, many of whom had previously been active at various orthodox monasteries abroad, such as the Mangana Monastery in Constantinople. Among the religious authors were celebrated scholars as Ioane Petritsi and Arsen Ikaltoeli. Due to the extensive work carried out by the Gelati Academy, people of the time called it "a new Hellas" and "a second Athos".[2]

Of the murals and manuscripts, the Khakhuli triptych was enshrined at Gelati until being stolen in 1859. Gelati is the burial site of its founder and one of the Georgian kings David IV. Near King David's grave are the gates of Ganja, which were taken as a trophy by King Demetrius I of Georgia in 1138.


The monastery is on top of a grassy hill that overlooks the old capital of Kutaisi. The hill acts as a representation of a way to become closer to God. The monastery's atmosphere is also represented in the exterior architecture. It overlooks the country fields of Georgia. Directly below is the Tskaltsitela.


The Gelati Monastery was built in 1106 by King David IV of Georgia. It was constructed during the Byzantine Empire, during which Christianity was the ruling religion throughout the empire. The Monastery is known as Church of Virgin the Blessed, meaning that the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and her spiritual powers.The church was not just used for religious purposes, it was also used to teach science. It became the academy of math and sciences in all of Georgia.


The monastery still oversees all of Georgia and still is a functioning church. Tourists come from all over to see this masterpiece. Since the Soviet Union the monastery has been listed in the Georgian National Register of Monuments. It is still being restored and is in the hands of UNESCO to protect it. All of the original parts of the monastery are still intact and are still able to function.

The monastery still needs to be and is currently being worked on and restored. Before the UNESCO was able to protect it the mosaics were somewhat intact and the murals were badly preserved. On the academy building, the roof was destroyed so the Georgian conservatory was able to build a roof on it and has been able to take care of the building and the whole monastery. The Georgian national register of monuments was able to put it on the protection and restoration list in 2006, protecting the monastery for the future.


The triptychs are a certain type of icons that were specific in form and in structure. These were popular during the Byzantine Empire and were very specific to the Georgian culture. The triptychs represented another form of contribution to the church. Triptychs were a form of iconography for the congregation to show their love for Jesus and his apostles.


As you walk inside the monastery you will be able to see one of larger mosaics in all of Georgia. They spread from wall to wall showing how the Byzantines worshiped God, Jesus, and their royalty. When the mosaics were first restored they were in such bad shape that many of them could not be salvaged. When the mosaics were restored they were able to show the intense idealization of the monasteries worshipers. The Gelati monastery is still able to show how the mosaics depict how the Byzantine Christian ideology about the role of church and state together.

The mosaics inside the monastery is covered in classic Byzantine art styles. Covered in gold, the Virgin Mary is holding a baby Jesus is the main masterpiece in the church. The Galeti mosaic is described as the centerpiece of Georgia. Right above the altar, it is the Virgin Mary is looking upon the crowd holding a wise baby Jesus.


The Gelati monastery represents the Byzantine architectural style with full archways and smooth stone. It was built so that the main monastery is designed to look like a cross. The cross is the symbol of Jesus's crucifixion on the cross, which is the symbol of Christianity. The monastery was built in a way so that it could be seen on top of the hill overlooking all of Georgia. The walls are filled with smooth stone to reflect the sun on the top of the hill. The archways fill the monastery all around even on the bell tower and the small building next to the monastery.



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "World Heritage Site". 1997–2020.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  2. ^ Chatzidakis, Nano. Byzantine Mosaics, Volume 7. Athens, Greece: Ekdotike Athenon, 1994, p.22
  • Byzantine Art,
  • Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. “Gelati Monastery.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre,
  • Chichinadze, Nina. “Some Compositional Characteristics of Georgian Triptychs of the Thirteenth through Fifteenth Centuries.” Gesta, vol. 35, no. 1, 1996, pp. 66–76. JSTOR, JSTOR,
  • Derlemenko I︠E︡vhen Anatoliĭovych, and Gigilashvili Ėduard. Gelati : Arkhitektura, Mozaika, Freski (Fotoalʹbom]= Gelati : Architecture, Mosaic, Frescoes. Tbilisi, Khelovneba, 1982.
  • Hubert Kaufhold, Brill. Georgian Monasteries.
  • Mepʻisašvili, R. Gelati. "Sabčotʻa Sakʻartʻvelo", 1965.

External linksEdit

Adapted from the Wikinfo article Gelati Monastery by Levan Urushadze, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.