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Ikalto and Shuamta

Ikalto monastery complex is located in 8 km from Telavi to the North. Monastery was founded in VI century by Holy Father from Assyria, Zenon Ikaltoeli. Arsen Ikaltoeli who arrived from Gelati Academy at the beginning of XII century founded here a center of education – Academy. Monastery complex nowadays consists of 3 churches: main church of Transfiguration of the Saviour, or ’Deity’ (VIII-IX centuries) which was constructed on the site of an old church with the tombs of Zenon Ikaltoeli; small Trinity Church with a dome (V century), and one-nave church of All Saints (XII-XIII centuries). Undeviating building of Ikalto Academy has been constructed with cobblestone on the edge of XII-XIII centuries. The first level is a general hall (25m x 9m), the second level consists of . In the ruins of the Academy there are some remnants of scientific and educational articles: basis of cathedra, typical windows with shelves. Like Gelati, in Ikalto Academy education was conducted under Trivium-Quadrivium system. Blacksmith’s work, ceramics, viticulture and wine production were also taught. On the territory of the Monastery there are ruins of a dining hall, likewise there are distinct stone remnants of winepress tub and many clay vats.

The Georgian architectural cluster is located in the Telavi region, in the forestland within 7 km distance. It consists of 2 parts: Old Shuamta and New Shuamta. The monastery received its name from its location – it is surrounded from three sides by mountains and has been constructed on the ravine between mountains.

Old Shuamta complex consists of three churches: three-nave Basilica (V century), a dome church of the type of Jvari (cross) church in Mtskheta (VII century), and small dome church (VII century). All three of them have been built with cobblestone, for corners pumice stone has been used. In XVI century Old Shuamta monastery was deserted.

Not far from the Old Shuamta monastery, the spouse of the king of Kakheti Levan II (1518-1574), Tinatin Gurieli, founded New Shuamta monastery – the monastery of Khakhuli the Virgin Mary Convent. There is a legend that before marriage Tinatin Gurieli had a dream of a place with blossoming cornel and she wanted to erect a cathedral there. When Tinatin was brought to Kakheti from Guria by king Levan, they stopped for a rest in Shuamta where Tinatin really saw blossoming cornel, and after marriage she soon launched a construction of a new monastery there. The church was built with bricks and has a form of a cross with a dome and interior paintings. Church wardens’ portraits have survived (king Levan, queen Tinatin and their son). The church was reno­vated by Erekle II. The complex has also bell tower and other fixtures. In New Shuamta a nun queen Tinatin Gurieli is buried having been admitted to nunnery. Here were also laid to rest poet and public figure, Alexander Chavchavadze, and representatives of the noble fami­lies of Chavchavadze, Karalashvili, Makashvili and Abdronikashvili.

100 Sights of Georgia

Edited by Manana Baliashvili
Design and layout by
Irma Liparteliani
Elene Varamashvili
Translation by
Guram Abashidze
Images by N. Elizbarashvili, B. Kupatadze, G. Dvalashvili, 
Agency of Protected Areas and Association “Nekresi”
Copyright © 2011. N. ElizbaraSvili, B. KupataZe
Copyright © 2011. Publishing House “Clio”

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