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Martkopi Monastery is located in Kvemo Kartli region, Gardabani municipality, near Martkopi village, on the Yalno ridge. The monastery was founded in the VI century by one of the 13 Assyrian fathers, Anton Martkopeli. Martkopi Monastery Complex is a monument of historical and cultural significance. In addition to the cultural value, there are stunning views from the monastery which creates a wonderful synthesis of an architecture and nature.
According to written sources, until the VI century, Martkopi was called Akriani (stony place). The first church was still built here by Vakhtang Gorgasali. In the first half of the VI century, Father Antony settled in the Akriani Mountains. He was abandoned that’s why people called Martyopeli(being alone and abandoned). Then the place was named Martkopi. Anton Martkopeli soon became famous as a miracle man and others also joined him. It was a leading to the development of Martkopi's monastic life. In 1265, after the invasion of Berka Khan, the commander of “The Golden Horde”, who destroyed Rustavi city, the Episcopal Cathedral moved from Rustavi to Martkopi. In 1395, during the Temur Lang invasion, the monastery was destroyed and the acheiropoieton icon of the Savior was lost. The name of the monastery, Martkopi monastery comes from this icon too. The monastery has been a cultural-educational center since ancient times. There was a school here, which ceased to exist in 1752 because Dagestan tribe’s attack. Martkopi maintained the status of the Episcopal Center until the beginning of the XIX century. Georgian Catholicos Patriarch Kirion II lived here. He was killed in his Senaki( Living place for a monk) on August 26, 1918. The monastery functioned until 1934, before it was abolished by the Communists. In the 50s and 60s of the XX century the orphanage was opened here and later it was turned into a holiday house for the 31st factory. Monastic life in Martkopi was restarted in 1989. Currently the Diocese of Abkhazia found the shelter here.
Martkopi Monastery Complex includes churches of Deity, St. Mary, St. George and Father Antony, also bell-tower, living places for monks and some other buildings. The monastery had a military purpose too. It had the battlement with an altitude of 1400 meters. The fence was destroyed by the Dagestan tribes in 1752 and only the remains are preserved today. The main structure of the ensemble is the cupola-shaped church. Firstly, the church was bigger but it has been damaged many times. Currently a smaller church is standing on the ruins. At the surface of the building is a crypt. Here is the tomb of Anton Martkopeli, in the northern part of the church.
There is a three-story bell tower to the east of the Monastery. The inscription on the facade of the bell tower shows us that it was built by Mason Akhverda in 1629.
There is a pillar of Anton Martkopel on mountain, to the east side of the monastery. He spent the last 15 years of his life here.
Restoration works were carried out in the monastery in 1848-1855, during the restoration, remains of the old church paintings were destroyed, including portraits of Vakhtang Gorgasali and David the Builder. The current paintings are done by Russian painter Toshkini during that period.
Martkopi Monastery is located in Kvemo Kartli region, near Gardabani municipality, 25 km away from Tbilisi. There is the driving road to the monastery you can get there by car.