The Church of Martvili
The Church of Martvili (Martyrs) is located in the town of Martvili. It was built in the first half of the VII century. In X century, after foundation of Chkondidi Episcopacy, Martvili became the Cathedral of Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
There was a scriptorium in the monastery. Collection of manuscripts created here is in safe keeping at the National Center of Manuscripts.
Martvili church is a construction of earlier cross-dome types of buildings and looks very much like Jvari monastery in Mtskheta. Invasions of Turks and Arabs have damaged it considerably, and due to that, in the X century, the church was substantially overhauled by the king of the Abkhaz, Giorgi II (923-957). New support of the dome was made, outer walls were added, and burial vault was leaned to. The painting of the monastery was performed in the XVI-XVII centuries by orders of Odishi rulers. To the north of the main cathedral, on the fence stands three-level minuscule cross-dome type church of Chikvani constructed of cut stones.
In ancient times Chkondidi was a hotbed of heathen religious and cult activities. There was a heathen altar on the high hillock - a huge oak (Chkondi) tree. It was a place named after Kapunia, the patron of fertility, reproduction and well-being of the family, who was worshipped by the local population and where local clerics - Chkoindari - sacrificed babies. The first church was arguably built here, on the place where oak tree stood, named after Andrew the First-called who preached Christianity in Samegrelo.
In Soviet times there were halted in the cathedral. The monastery was located in the tourist area. After tens of years of forced inactivity Martivli monastery in 1998 with the blessing of Georgian Patriarch Ilia II restored.
From 2007 the monastery life in Martvili was revived. Patriarchal residence was built on the Cathedral grounds. Monastery established St. Andrew's Monastery of Fathers and St. Nino's Monastery of Mothers. Leaders revived monastic community living for both the monks and mothers.
The main sightseeing of Samegrelo