David Gareja Monastery

David Gareja Monastery, Udabno: Address, David Gareja Monastery Reviews: 4.5/5

David Gareja Monastery
4.5
Points of Interest & Landmarks • Religious Sites
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
318 reviews
Excellent
217
Very good
74
Average
17
Poor
5
Terrible
5

Blair32
London, UK38 contributions
David Gareja is a must see if you're staying nearby. It's around 2hrs drive from Tbilisi and worth the trip. Make sure you have a map or directions to the most interesting caves with the most impressive frescos, since the best ones are easy to miss.

Your guide book should give all the info you need about the site, so I'll just add that the best way we found to get there was the Gareji Line. Search for it on Google or Facebook. For 25GEL per person, they take you in a minibus direct to the site from near Freedom Square in Tbilisi, leave you for three hours to explore, then return you back to Tbilisi via a quick stop off in Udabno for refreshments.

This isn't a guided tour - just a shuttle. But it's cheaper and easier than taking a taxi or marshrutka/taxi combo suggested by the guidebooks.
Written May 26, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Adam K
Washington DC, DC1 contribution
Couples
My wife and I visited Georgia for ten days last August. I wanted to put in an endorsement for Makho Spanderashvili, an excellent driver and guide who took us to David Gareja.

We had been planning to rent a car at Tbilisi airport and drive to Sighnaghi with a stop at David Gareja, but the rental company botched our reservation. So we improvised and hired a car to take us to David Gareja and then drop us in Signhaghi.

Fortuitously, our driver, Makho, spoke fluent English and ended up giving us an excellent tour of David Gareja for no extra cost. I took his card and promised to give him a plug back in the States. He's a member of the Georgian Association of Guides, speaks excellent erudite English, and is unfailingly courteous.

His email address is makhosp@yahoo.com. Phone: 597 10 49 47 or 599 723 321.
Written May 1, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nicebody
Miami Beach, FL39 contributions
Solo
There is no doubt that this monestary built into the mountains is an amazing site. However, not a single guidebook will tell you that to get here is a steep, sometimes dangerous hike. Azerbaijan has laid claim to the monestary, so there is literally a border fence built into the hillside. And thank goodness as everyone uses the metal stakes to assist them the journey across the hillside and down. Were this in the US, no one would be allowed to attempt this visit without mountaineering gear. Really. So get yourself a strong guide (you will need help, trust me), bring plenty of water and have a go.
Written September 18, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

C F
Utrecht Province, The Netherlands7 contributions
Couples
We took the road maps.me advised us to do. With our 4WD it was no problem, but otherewise it was. Beautiful, but it was a long drive. At the lowest monastery we could only visit the church which is restored very much, bit to much for me. The higher church was forbidden to visit because of border problems.
We were disappointed... but view are nice!
Written July 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tobias
Munich, Germany54 contributions
Friends
We were at David Gareja and were only able to visit lavra. Monastery udabno was not accesible because of georgian /aserbaidschan conflict / dispute. I would recommend if its on your way. But dont come for a full/half day trip from Tiflis or somewhere else…
Written July 19, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

tunai
Colorado170 contributions
Solo
It's an easy day trip from Tbilisi and you can take the tour bus from outside the Tourist Information Office in Liberty/Freedom Square for only 25 GEL (about $15). It leaves at 11:00 AM and will drop you off at the entrance. You will then have about 3 hours to explore the place on your own which is plenty of time. I am not an experienced hiker but was able to follow the trail without too much trouble. But I was glad I was with people I met on the bus. Not sure whether I could have done it on my own. You need moderate hiking skills and must be in decent shape. There are some sections which require
effort and agility. We were warned that we would see snakes but we ran into only a few lizards.
Once you reach the summit ridge, you can see Azerbaijan on the other side. You are now in Udabno and can explore some of the cave churches with faded frescoes. The descent provides great views of the surrounding landscape. You will end up at the main monastety/Larva and can go inside, if you wish.

The great thing about the David Gareja complex is that there has been no attempt to exploit it for tourism. You are in raw Nature without virtually any kind of facilities. So--bring at least two bottles of dr water and some food. Enjoy the peace, quiet, and remoteness of the place!
Written July 18, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nicola W
2 contributions
We took the Gareji Line bus from Tbilisi as recommended in Lonely Planet. It took 3 hours to get there. Within 5 minutes of arrival it became apparent that all except one of the monasteries are closed. The 2 paths up to the border and monasteries were guarded by border patrol telling people to ‘go back’. Realising we had a lot of time to kill we explored the one open monastery much slower than we normally would- we were still finished after 50 minutes! We then had to wait around for another hour or so before we could leave as the bus stuck to it’s timetable, despite there being nothing to see! The journey back was a 4 hour slog including a long stop at a cafe for food. Not worth a 9 hour trip for a monastery that could easily be explored in 10 mins!
Written August 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

whereisemil
Munich, Germany117 contributions
Solo
David Gareji (or Davit Gareja) monastery complex is definitely a spot worth visiting when in Georgia. The remote site is around 2 hours from Tbilisi, Georgia's capital. Reaching it via public transport is basically impossible. Buses or marshrutkas may take you to the village of Udabno (best case). From Tbilisi there are a few tour operators offering day trips to the place. I used the daily David Gareji Line from Freedom Square/Pushkin St. in Tbilisi. The road to Udabno is acceptable, from there it gets really shaky and dusty. When travelling to David Gareji you must follow these "survival" rules:
- you must be REALLY fit to hike the higher parts of the complex.
- you must wear tall trousers when hiking in summer. The area is has many venomous snakes. They attack only when treatened but it's good to be protected.
- Take PLENTY of water with you. You will need it! There are NO possibilities to buy water on site. The church shop doesn't sell water. I also recommend some light snack. Some tour companies would stop on their way back in Udabno for lunch. Ask in advance.
- Don't forget sun cream and some kind of sun protection (a hat, etc.) The area is a desert and in summer the temperatures are extremely high. There is nearly no possibility to hide from the sun except in the caves

Mind that a part of the monastery complex is on Azerbaijani soil so you will encounter Azerbaijani and Georgian border patrol soldiers. They are however very friendly and commucative, just don't get scared when you see them in one of the caves... Refrain however from taking pictures with/of them. Taking pictures of the entire landscape, the caves themselves, the churches, the paths and the whole complex is of course allowed.
Take your time when hiking through the area. On Google Maps it looks really flat but it is NOT. ;) When going down the slopes mind your path since it can get very slippery even in summer. Stick to the path and to the provided map.
Written June 29, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

ukrmiho
Tbilisi, Georgia78 contributions
Couples
David Gareja is actually name for 12 monasteries in the immediate area. Most visited are Lavra and Udabno.
Lavra located at the start of the hill is easy accessible and has undergone substantial renovation. It is now a fully functional monastery.
Udabno is about one hour hike from Lavra up a rather steep hill. Make sure you have water with you and comfortable shoes. In the hot season beware of snakes. Udabno located on the other side of the hill which is Azeri territory (no passport needed). A good tip is to ask monks in the shop before you commence you climb since at times the border is closed and you will not be permitted to go to monastery.
Udabno Monastery consist of numerous caves carved into the rock, some are more destroyed than others. Some contain traces of frescoes from 12 - 14 th century.
Do not recommend this trip to parents with kids or people suffering with vertigo.
Best time to visit early morning to avoid the heat.
Entrance is free
Written May 12, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Piffy-Molly
Melbourne, Australia4 contributions
Friends
This tour should be avoided while the Azerbaijan border is closed. It’s a long and uncomfortable trip in the Gareji Line minibus. They DID NOT explain to any of the 20+ tourists who purchased tickets at the start of the day that the Udabno Monastery and it’s beautiful frescoes are closed indefinitely by the Azerbaijan Govt due to border incidents with religious activists.

The Lavra Monastery is frankly not worth this long trip. Further, the Lonely Planet Guide states that the Gareji Line tour stops at the popular Oasis Cafe on the way back. This is not true - our tour stopped at the uninspiring Black Horse Hotel, where we were served overpriced and inedible food.
Written July 25, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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