Öşkvank Cathedral

Top choice Cathedral

in Çamlıyamaç

Second only to Dörtkilise, Öşkvank is the region's most memorable Georgian church. Large, relatively well preserved and with plenty of very fine relief carvings, it sits in the heart of Çamlıyamaç village. It's 8km off the Erzurum-Artvin road, accessed via a side valley that's full of scenic delights. If you can get in, the interior is breathtaking, with four massive pillars soaring upwards to high arches that support the 12-windowed drum tower and dome.

The cathedral was once the centrepiece of one of Tao-Klarjeti's most important monasteries, a centre of learning and literature that remained active until at least the 15th century. The building reputedly served as the model for the 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral built in Kutaisi (Georgia). Reliefs include archangels, an eagle clutching a deer and Christ flanked by the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist and the monastery's patrons, King Davit III on the left and Prince Bagrat on the right, holding models of the cathedral.

Inside of the south facade, frescoes have been partially preserved showing scenes from the Crucifixion and what is though to be a royal wedding in front of Bana Cathedral.

Following the street around the east end of the cathedral, you'll find, up on the left, the ruins of the monastery's large, now-roofless refectory and, attached to its north end, the remains of the scriptorium.