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Vardzia

Monastery - Fortress

In the southwestern part of Georgia (6 km from the border with Turkey), on the left bank of the Kura River is a cave town called Vardzia.


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The construction of this complex and the monastery was begun during the reign of Georgy III (1156 - 1184) and completed in the reign of his daughter - Queen Tamara (Queen Tamar) (1184 - 1213). In the past, this part of Georgia was a barrier between the rest of the country and the Muslim world.

Vardzia - it's not just randomly dug in a cliff cave rooms. This is a true multi-storey complex with streets, tunnels and staircases. Total more than 600 rooms connected by passages, which extended in length by 800 meters deep into the mountains for 50 meters and a height of thirteen stories.


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Outside the monastery was almost invisible. The monastery was held water long 3.5 miles. In total, the monastery was fifteen churches.

In the case of enemy attack the monastery became a refuge for civilians and could hold up to 20 000.
In the 13th century there was a major earthquake. Separated from the mountain and fell into Hen reservoir rocks 15 meters wide, resulting in a monastery was laid bare and lost its importance as a fortress. In later centuries, the monastery was looted from the Tatar-Mongol, Iranian troops and the Turks, who held them for over 250 years.
In the 19th century, during the Russian-Turkish war, Russian troops occupied the area in Javakheti. Life started again in Vardzia.


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Currently several monks are living in the monastery


There are several versions of the origin of the name of the monastery. One of them says that the young Queen Tamara, was often visiting the construction, so she decided to play a trick on her uncle, and she had been hidden in the walls of the fortress. Panickly uncle rushed through the dark passages, calling for a future queen, and she suddenly jumped out from behind his back and cried: "Ak var, dzia" (I am here, my uncle). Later, he told the lords that case, and they decided to call monastery in honor of Queen Vardzia.

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© 2011 EVRIKA

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