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Davidgareja Monastery Complex is located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia, on the half-desert slopes of mount Gareja. The complex was founded in the 6th century by thirteen Syrian monks. One of them, by the name David, settled in a natural cave of mount Gareja. David (St. David Garejeli ) was builder of the first monastery (Lavra) of the complex. Later David's disciples Dodo and Lukiane founded two monasteries Dodo's Rka and Natlismtsemeli.

Outstanding Georgian public figure of the 9th century Ilarion Kartveli (Ilarion the Georgian) greatly contributed to the development of this monastery complex. Later, it was supported by the son of the King of Georgia David the Builder (1089-1125), Demetre (Demetre I ), the author of the famous Georgian religious hymn "Shen Khar Venakhi" ("Thou Art a Vineyard").

In the 11th century the Davidgareja monastery complex was invaded by Seljuk Turks.

In the 11th-13th centuries the economic and cultural development of Davidgareja reached its highest phase. New monasteries Udabno, Bertubani and Chichkhituri were built, the old ones were enlarged and well organized.

The renaissance of fresco painting chronologically coincides with the general development of the life in the Davidgareja monasteries. The high artistic skill of Davidgareja frescoes made them an indispensable part of world treasure.

In the 13th century the Davidgareja monastery complex was invaded by Mongols. Davidgareja monasteries revived only a century later.

In 1615 numerous hords of Persians led by Shah-Abbas anniliated all the monks, set fire to all unique manuscripts and important works of Georgian and world art.

At the end of the 17th century the monastery life was revived in Davidgareja. It was put to practice with the help of Onopre Machutadze . He was appointed Father Superior of Davidgareja in 1690.

In 1801 the Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti (Eastern Georgia) was occupied by the Tsarist Russian Empire. In 1811 was abolished the Autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church. In 1811-1917 Davidgareja was uninhabited. In 1921 the Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918-1921) was occupied by the Bolshevik Russia. In 1922-1980s Davidgareja was also uninhabited. Since restoration of the state independence of Georgia in 1991 was revived the monastery life in Davidgareja.

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

Last updated: 05-03-2005 09:00:33