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Vanis-kvabebi: a walk on the unusual Georgian monastery. Photo

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. ФотоThis is an amazing place.

In Georgia there are many places that you might not even suspect. In this country every piece of land steeped in history immemorial. And among these pieces there are those who for many centuries somehow miraculously manage to remain in the shadows of Time and human attention. I want to tell you about one of the cave monastery, which was founded more than 1,000 years ago and is inhabited to this day. With it came the construction of the more famous cave monasteries in this district.

Photos and text alexio_marziano

Welcome to …

1. …Vanis-Kvabebi.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

2. It is located near its more famous counterpart — the cave city-monastery Vardzia. But it does not take tourists with their buses. Usually it is quiet and there are no extra eyes. Clickable.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

3. Information on Vanis-kvabebi is extremely small. A few sources give little information about what he was founded in the VIII century, and in 1204, in Vanis-kvabebi was built a protective wall whose remains you can see there now. Huge boulders in the human growth defended the modest life of the monks from the incursions of the Turks.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

4. Surprisingly, the monastery is now inhabited. On the lower tiers there are cells in which the monks live and workers (secular assistants). They have a refectory, a small piece of land cultivated with raised beds, a couple of friendly dogs. The monks lead an ascetic way of life and on the rare tourists do not pay almost any attention.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

If you plan on coming here, better ask permission to wander through the abandoned cells and specify where you can climb and where not worth it.
Life in the caves

5. The place is striking in its power and sacredness. Here rarely looks the wind, following the century-long silence, broken only by the squeaking of Swifts.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

6. You ask what it’s like to live here, without electricity and heat? Summer itself is quite comfortable, but winter is the main problem with the monks. Boiling down Kura completely freezes in extreme cold, testing the strength of the local inhabitants. Difficult and uphill on icy roads. More recently, there was nothing but a normal primer, not yet flooded the tarmac. Machine — only connection with the outside world.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

7. Vanis-kvabebi consists of 19 levels (for comparison, in Vardzia there are only 8). Unlike Vardzia tourist, passages between the cells and levels in Vanis-kvabebi poorly equipped.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

8. You must be willing to unfenced balconies at a height of several dozen meters, stone staircase-“curaderm”, low aisles and wobbly ladders.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

9.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

At different levels there were three churches, two of which have survived to the present day.

“Built-in” Church

10. This Church is visible from afar, because it is located on one of the upper tiers.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

11. The Church is built of rubble mixed with brick, and stuck to the rocks like a nest of Swifts, of which there live a great variety.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

12. How and when it was built — that no one can say. Some sources indicate that the Church of the XV century. The Dating was based on studies of inscriptions inside the Church. Layer labels regularly overwritten with a layer of more modern signs of intelligent civilization. Who knows, maybe in thousands of years archaeologists on the remaining “Here was Uasya, 21.04.15” will draw the appropriate conclusions about the level of cultural development of humanoids that period…

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

13. In this Church conducted the service, she looks well-groomed and inhabited, thanks to the monks who live here.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

14. I would not recommend coming here with young children to avoid accidents. Until recently, this Church was not dolezt, but now the way is clear.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

The architectural style of the built-in Church is not similar to any known today.
The Church Of St. George

15. It is located on one of the lower levels. Unfortunately, this Church was destroyed by the earthquake and all that was left of it, is carved into the rock arch of the altar and the dome. On the date of its construction there is no information but suggest that it occurred not earlier than the XI century. The height of the Church of St. George is 12 meters. It also conducted services. This is the first Church under the open sky I saw.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

Stone anthill

16. All the surrounding rocks are penetrated by a dark eye-sockets carved in the rock of the cells. Boggles the mind how much time and effort it took for it.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

17. In some cells it is impossible to get without special equipment. But aren’t we stopping it?

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

18. Here is one of those cells, which we have just looked from the Church. A portion of the outer wall collapsed and lies inside. A stone with a hole of the millstone or a container.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

19. The walls and ceiling was smoky from the fires, and the walls for hundreds of years, soaking in wax from the candles.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

Vardzia

20. Cave Vanis-kvabebi seen another city — Vardzia. You can get here by coach. There is ample Parking, ticket office, gift shop and hours of operation.
[Message from Bigfoot]

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

21. Cave city is well equipped with guards, and even children can feel here in relative safety. It is easy to move around and explore the caves without a lot of risk to a fall or greatly venerate the skull on the ledge.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

22. In Vardzia very nice. I would even say “beautifully refined”, but that’s my personal feeling. And it is good that it is able to maintain the ancient monument in this condition. And it is good that tourists come here.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

Cave photographer

23. I visited the caves Vanis-kvabebi twice and spent a few hours waiting for the beautiful light at sunset and dawn. If the first is lucky for me, the second I just waited. The sun at this time of year looks into this natural amphitheater was well past noon. But I do not regret about spent time.

Ванис-Квабеби: прогулка по необычному грузинскому монастырю. Фото

Even just stand there in silence, contemplating the green slopes of the mountains and imagining the life of this cave city is at its peak, it is a delight.

And remember the main rules of visiting Vanis-kvabebi: tread softly, speak little, think much.

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