Ateni Sioni


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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Gori attractions

1. War Museum

5.59 MILES

The War Museum is mostly devoted to Gori people’s involvement in WWII, but also contains a small display on the 2008 war. In the lobby are a few pieces of…

2. Gori Fortress

5.71 MILES

This partially reconstructed oval citadel stands on the hill at the heart of Gori. It dates mostly from the Middle Ages, with 17th-century additions. With…

3. Stalin Museum

5.83 MILES

This impressively designed museum makes no serious attempt to present a balanced account of Stalin's career or deeds. It remains, much as when it opened…

4. Uplistsikhe

7.18 MILES

This once enormous cave city sits 10km east of Gori above the north side of the Mtkvari River. Between the 6th century BC and 1st century AD, Uplistsikhe…