Gelati Monastery - one of the greatest spiritual and cultural centers of the Middle Age Georgia praised as “New Athens” and “Second Jerusalem” was founded by King Davit Agmashenebeli (David the Builder) in 1106.
At the monastery there functioned an academy where outstanding Georgian scientists, philosophers and theologians lived and worked.
Since XVI century Gelati has become an Episcopal Cathedral.
The central building of the monastery is the church of the Virgin. The interior of the church is adorned with paintings of different periods. The central apse is decorated with a mosaic dated to 1125-1130 depicting the Virgin with the Child and archangels. In the Western narthex there are mural paintings of XII century representing seven ecumenical councils. Most of the murals in the church belong to the second half of XVI century.
Other architectural monuments of Gelati monastic ensemble date to XII and XIV centuries. These are: the academy, the church of St. George decorated with the interior mural paintings of XVI century, the two floored church of St. Nicholas and the bell tower, one of the oldest in Georgia.
Gelati Monastery was a burial vault of the Georgian royal dynasty of the Bagrations. The king David the Builder himself (1184-1225) is buried in the Southern gate of the monastery.