This impressively ancient church has a beautiful setting above a bend of the pretty, grapevine-strewn Tana valley, 12km south of Gori. Ateni Sioni was built in the 7th century and modelled on Mtskheta’s Jvari Church. Beautiful reliefs of stags, a hunting scene and a knight were carved into the exterior walls later. Inside, the 11th-century frescoes, depicting biblical scenes and Georgian rulers, are among the finest medieval art in the country.
At the time of writing the frescoes were under restoration but you could still see them through a forest of scaffolding.
A return taxi from Gori to the church should cost about 20 GEL, or 30 GEL to 40 GEL if combined with Uplistsikhe. Alternatively, buses and marshrutky run from Gori bus station to Ateni Sioni (1 GEL, 30 minutes) once or twice hourly until 6pm.