Sapara Monastery has a dramatic position clinging to a cliff edge. It is a Georgian Orthodox monastery near the village of Ghreli, about 12km southeast of Akhaltsikhe (🚕 30 GEL/return, incl. stops and waiting). The largest of Sapara’s 12 churches, St Saba’s, with outstanding frescoes, was built around the 10th century during the reign of the House of Jakeli, a royal family who ruled southwest Georgia for centuries. The Jakelis, who managed to retain the independent status of their kingdom despite a 13th-century Mongol invasion and other hardships, were primarily responsible for the spread of monastic life throughout the province. When the Ottoman Turks seized power in the 16th-17th centuries, Sapara Monastery was abandoned. The monastery was deserted entirely until the 19th century when monks began to inhabit the hermitage again. This was short-lived, however, for in 1893, while Georgia was under Russian rule, the monastery was transformed into a Russian hermitage. This order was also quickly abandoned during 20thcentury Soviet rule when the building was wholly repurposed for non-religious activities. Monastic life was restored at the hermitage only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989, and monks continue to reside on the premises even today.

Parking location – Sapara Monastery: 41.603771N 43.031104E