Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vardzia Cave Monastery

Vardzia is a cave monastery site in southern Georgia. Queen Tamar ordered the construction of this underground sanctuary in 1185, and the digging begun, carving into the side of the Erusheli Mountain, located in the south of the country near the town of Aspindza. When completed this underground fortress extended 13 levels and contained 6000 apartments, a throne room and a large church with an external bell tower. It is assumed that the only access to this stronghold was via a hidden tunnel whose entrance was near the banks of Mtkvari River. In 1283, a devastating earthquake literally ripped the place apart which shattered the mountain slope and destroyed more than two thirds of the city, exposing the hidden innards of the remainder. Today about three hundred apartments and halls remain visitable and in some tunnels the old irrigation pipes still bring drinkable water. In 2007 Vardzia-Khertvisi was submitted for future inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a mixed Cultural and Natural Site.  

I recommend this article:  The Cave City of Vardzia.

Many thanks to Anina for sending me this gorgeous postcard from Batumil,a beautiful seaside city on the Black Sea coast and capital of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. The three special stamps depict David Gareji, another rock-hewn monastery complex which is also on the tentative lists. :)