This monastery, beautifully situated in a cypress grove, was one of two famous medieval Georgian Neoplatonist academies, the other being Gelati near Kutaisi. Shota Rustaveli, the national poet, is thought to have studied here. The main Transfiguration Church was built in the 8th and 9th centuries. The roofless building along the south side of the compound was the Academy; an 8th-century stone wine press survives to its left (Georgian monasteries have always been enthusiastic winemakers).
The monastery is 2km uphill from the Telavi–Akhmeta road: turn off just after the 54/19 Km post. Marshrutky from Telavi terminate in Ikalto village, leaving you with a pleasant-enough 1.5km road walk up to the monastery.