Porta Monastiri

Far Northeast

Porta (Khandzta) Monastery holds a special place in Georgian history but today it's a severely dilapidated series of ruins in a thickly wooded canyon, high above the Artvin–Ardahan road.

Founded in 782, this was the base from which monk Grigol Khandzteli pioneered the early monastic movement in Tao-Klarjeti. The site was left abandoned as a monastery and forgotten for centuries. Academics were divided as to historic Khandzta's location until the discovery in Jerusalem of an ancient document written by one of its monks that appears to confirm Porta and Khandzta as the same place.

Getting to the site is quite an adventure. On foot it's around 2km steeply uphill from a brown-signed point along the Ardahan road but the path had been damaged by a rockfall at the time of research. By road, the narrow access lane starts from near Km34 at a turn signposted to Bağcılar, but this too was essentially impassable at the time of research due to landslides part way. For a sense of the logistics or to visit virtually, see www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CfhMb2_Scw