Davit Gareja, the Georgian monastic complex on the border with Azerbaijan


Visit Davit gareja in Georgia It is quite an adventure for several reasons. On the one hand to arrive, despite not being very far in kilometers from the capital of the country, TbilisiIt is barely seventy kilometers, the last twenty kilometers are hell on a road with more potholes and stones than a goat trail.

Davit gareja

The road to Davit Gareja, especially the last kilometers give you really bucolic sights, cattle, pastures and even a small lake.

Davit gareja

It is also an adventure to approach the border with Azerbaijan, neighboring country. The natural and geopolitical frontier is also this cliff that rises in this arid area, so when you look ahead from the top of it, the extensive plain that you see is Azerbaijan.

And finally, to reach such a remote and uninhabited place, “left by the hand of God”, where at one point in its history it was inhabited, and its caves with its paintings give a good account of it.

A little history about Davit Gareja

This visit was almost the last we had for our Georgian adventure, reaching Davit Gareja, another cave settlement, another watchful monastery. At the beginning of this trip, we had visited another cave city, Uplistsikhe.

When you arrive to Davit gareja, you think you have reached the desert, or you are close. It also gave us the feeling of being on another planet, or almost, until in the middle of nowhere, the monastery of Lavra.

Davit gareja

A little history about the place always helps us to contextualize the sites and understand them a little better.

Davit Gareja’s history dates back to the 6th century AD. C. And it is so called because Davit Gareja, one of the thirteen ascetic assyrian fathers, He returned to Georgia from the distant lands of the Middle East to bring Christianity to the last corner of this Caucasian region.

The monastic complex was a way of getting into Christianity through the frescoes that are still visible in its caves. But this place also served as a translation center for manuscripts of the Christian legacy. The Mongols invaded this distant place and destroyed the place in the 13th century, but luckily, they did not completely do so. A century later the place was rebuilt.

It did not last long on its feet, as the Sha Abba and his soldiers came to this remote place and killed all the monks that inhabited it, more than six thousand, devastating it.

But there is still more, during Soviet times, this place was used as a military exercise area, and they continued with the destruction of the place.

Luckily, the Soviets themselves finally rebuilt the main monastery, Lavra, and it is currently inhabited by monks, bringing it to life. Along with these monks there is a small detachment of the army that guards the border with Azerbaijan, in fact you will see several of them located at the top, half hidden with their corresponding kalashnikovs.

What to see and do in Davit Gareja

As I have commented before, there is a main monastery, called Lavra, which is rebuilt and in the process of improvement. When I walked in it reminded me of Bran castle in Romania, except for the caves that were in one of the walls that form the enclosure.

Davit gareja

You can move quietly around the place, go up, go down, get into the nooks and crannies, look for those corners with so much history.

Davit gareja

The truth is that when we saw this monastery, it gave us the feeling of having come so far, just to see this building, but the surprise came later, when we left the monastery through another door and followed a path.

Davit gareja

Davit gareja

Going up we come to another small enclosure dug in a rock, Davit’s Cave of Tears, where it is also in a water collection system, very necessary in such a desert area. The truth is that it is quite curious, and from there, we began to climb a path to the top.

This is where we met the military, but their attitude was most calm. The truth is that we were surprised to see soldiers on that border. It is assumed that the relationship between both countries, Georgia and Arerbaijan is not bad … but hey, in certain parts of the world you never know.

Davit gareja

The views from that high area are really worth it, looking at the horizon and feeling at one of the confines of Europe with Asia is a pleasant feeling of remoteness from the world.

Davit gareja

From that point on, we followed a path that took us through the different caves decorated with ancient Christian paintings. This set is called Udabno

Davit gareja

This path is delimited with iron stakes and a steel cable, at times you will need to lean on it to move through the narrow path. Be careful when walking, although I think it is quite difficult for you to slip and fall down (it is a steep slope with a significant slope, it is not a cliff).

Davit gareja

Davit gareja

Davit gareja

They told us, although we do not know for sure, that those stakes and cable are the geopolitical border with Azerbaijan, so without realizing it, we crossed the border, it seems too easy to me …

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The truth is that we were quite lucky, since we barely met half a dozen people on this road. So we were able to enjoy a walk almost alone and enter these caves with those ancient paintings, centuries watching history pass in front of them.

Davit gareja

Davit gareja

Davit gareja

At the end of this path there was a kind of viewpoint. Looking ahead and feeling that we were in a remote place, and on a border overlooking Azerbaijan was a feeling that I particularly liked. Perhaps feeling that loneliness, an infinite horizon where a city could be seen in the distance, already in Azerbaijan, a sunny day … were the reasons for enjoying Davit Gareja so much.

Davit gareja

In the end, the visit to this complex lasted around two and a half hours, yes, under a blazing sun. We went in May, which is not the hottest time, in addition, thanks to the spring flowering, there were yellow flowers that gave a little paint and joy to the place.

Bring water, a cap and if you have, mountain shoes. They say that in this area there are poisonous snakes, the truth is that we did not see any, and that we went in May, and the time of greatest presence is from April to June. In any case, always watch where you put your foot and where you support yourself with your hand.

How to get to Davit Gareja

There are several ways to get to Davit Gareja.

You can go by mashkruta from Tbilisi to Sagarejo, and from there take a taxi that will take you directly to Davit Gareja. It may be the cheapest way, but it is also the slowest. These mashkrutas come out from the Navtlugi bus station and it takes about an hour to get to Sagarejo. And then there you have to look for a taxi that will take you and bring you from this town, and then take the mashkruta back to Tbilisi.

Davit gareja

exist direct excursions from Tbilisi to Davit Gareja with the company Gareji line during the months of April to October. Some mini buses leave from Pushkin Street, near Freedom Square. The departure time is at 11 in the morning and they usually return at 7 in the afternoon. You can take a look at their Facebook page, and ask at your accommodation to make sure of the schedule and seat availability. https://www.facebook.com/gareji.line/

The third and most expensive option is to hire a car with a driver. We made it through our accommodation, and we had already gone with him until Kazbegi passing by Jvari, Msktheta Y Ananuri by the georgian military highway. This is the option that we decided, and that is that in the afternoon we would go to Yerevan on the night train, so we needed to be in Tbilisi on time and make the last visit to the New Cathedral of the city. We paid 100 lari, about 35 euros, and he took us to Davit Gareji, he waited for us and brought us back to Tbilisi, stopping at the cathedral and dropping us off at the Tbilisi train station.

Accommodation in Tbilisi

The truth is that Tblisi is a city with a lot of tourism, especially Russians and other nationalities from former Soviet republics, so if there is something that is not lacking, it is accommodation of all types, categories and prices.
We went during the week of May 1, which is the Russian national holiday, so the city, well the whole country, was full of Russians. It took us a little while to find an accommodation that was centrally located and its price was also quite good, for some reason everything was very expensive.

We finally decided on him Red Fox Guest House. The truth is that it is very good, it is a fairly new accommodation, the rooms are normal and the bathrooms are shared. It also has breakfast included.

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The location of Red Fox Guest House It is very good, as it is located about three or four minutes walk from Meidan Square.
Tamara is the person who owns the accommodation and is responsible, really a very nice person who helped us a lot and gave us a lot of information about the city.


In fact, on our way back to Tbilisi, to catch the plane back, we stayed there again.

In the following link, Red Fox Guest House, you can see the availability of dates, prices and more photos about this accommodation.
You can also see more options in the following link, Accommodation in Tbilisi.

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