There are such places in the world that express the meaning and essence of the existence on Earth. One of these places is Alaverdi Monastery where a unique event is awating us — the Alaverdoba festival.
Alaverdoba fertility festival is the Kakhetian New Year and it is historically associated with Alaverdi in particular. The ancient monastery represents the Georgian Orthodox tradition and centuries-old history of Kakhetian wine making. This is an important culturological centre of wine making for the whole world and, in fact, the oldest monument of not only religious, but also wine culture.
In Alaverdi are uniquely intertwined the ancient Christian service and the traditions of classical Georgian wine making. Today, in total four monks manage the monastery’s affairs, perform divine services and work in the vineyards and in the wine cellar. «With God’s love and help!» say the brothers of Alaverdi temple.
There are places in the world that radiate invisible force and power, where we feel awake, more exalted and alive. Such an amazing place on Georgian land is Kakhetia, namely a small region of Alazani Valley.
Alazani Valley itself is a beautiful creation of nature: it stretches 150 kilometres along the river Alazan, has very mild and healthy climate, from the northern winds and colds it is protected by the Main Caucasian Ridge; the right bank of the river is slightly raised and as if placed under the sun. This place has a big concentration of places associated with spirituality, faith, religious worship, and purification.
Alaverdi means «Alavani Valley» (Alva Hvardi). The monastery became the centre of the diocese at the beginning of the 11th century, when Kvirike III the Great, the king of Kakhetia (under his rule Kakhetia experienced its golden age), built the stone Cathedral of St. George. This cathedral of incredible majesty and beauty has remained the highest temple of Georgia for centuries. The cathedral replaced the original wooden structure, erected by St. Joseph of Alaverdi — one of the twelve legendary Assyrian Fathers who came to Georgian lands in the 6th century with the purpose to bring people the God’s Word.
During its long history, the cathedral has been through a lot: raids and conquests, earthquakes and a destruction by human hands. But like a phoenix, time after time it was purified and revived. The importance of Alaverdi is emphasized by the fact that up to the 13th century the head of the cathedral was at the same time the head of the whole Kakhetian Church, and without his advice the Kakhetian king wouldn’t take any significant political, military or social decisions.
From the 16th to the 18th century, famous Georgian writers and calligraphers were writing and copying books here. The library of the monastery had extensive collections of manuscripts. From the 16th to 17th century, Alaverdi was a convent where female members of the royal family were taking vows and becoming nuns. In 1828, after Georgia’s accession to Russia, both the autocephaly of the Georgian Church and the Alaverdi eparchy were abolished. Over the next century, it was re-established several times, but in 1929, during the Soviet rule, it was cancelled again.
Alaverdi revival began in the last decade of the 20th century thanks to the selfless devotion of few monks led by Bishop David. Today it is a functioning monastery and entire complex consisting of the St. George temple, the refectory from the 16th century, the bell tower, the Bishop’s Palace, the residential buildings of the monastery, the famous cellar (marani) and the vineyards. Here has remained the most important thing — the original architecture, frescoes and atmosphere of the cathedral’s space.
The cathedral reflects the tranquillity and the majesty of this place. Erected in the 11th century, today it impresses with the harmony of its established proportions. Its entire structure seems to be directed upwards to the sky, following the domes.
The walls inside the cathedral are uncovered, which allows us to examine the characteristics of its construction and architecture. Many frescoes were preserved. They belong to different centuries. Some of them were several times plastered over time, thus presenting multiple layers. In the altar there are images of Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, on the walls of the temple we can see the images of the Church Fathers, the Apostles and the inscriptions in ancient Georgian language.
Feeling the presence of centuries-old history, the traces of the work of people who live here, the special atmosphere frozen in time — all this put any person in a particular deep state. Today, the St. George Cathedral is nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Alaverdi Village, Kakheti
Tel: +995 (0)5 5150 4774