Motsameta Monastery

Motsameta Monastery is smaller and quieter than the one in Gelati, although its cliff-edge setting is more spectacular by far. It is located 6km out of Kutaisi, off the Gelati road. Take the turning marked by a photo of the church and follow this track for a couple of kilometres. This little monastery has a spectacular setting on a cliff-top promontory above a bend of the Tskhaltsitela River. Situated dizzily high above the ravine of the Tskhaltsitela River, the monastery offers awe-inspiring views of the river and the surrounding countryside from any number of buildings and points on the grounds. Extremely isolated and seldom visited by tourists, this place will give you an unadulterated taste of the monastic life.

The church itself is on a site on which there had been a church and village since the fourth century. The name Motsameta is derived from the Georgian word for martyrdom. Two brothers, David and Constantine Mkheidze, were lords of this region in the eighth century. Sometime between 720 and 730, succumbing to a superior Arab force, they were captured and tortured for refusing to convert to Islam. They were thrown into the Rioni River with stones tied around their necks and their bodies washed up on the riverbank below the monastery. They were buried as martyrs in the crypt of the church, which was also destroyed by the Arabs at the time of the brothers' death.