Martqopi monastery (Region of Kvemo Kartli)
The Martqopi monastery (Georg. მარტყოფის მონასტერი) of the Deity was founded in the VI century, to the monk Anton, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers. The toponym Martqopi is derived from the Georgian epithet of St. Anton, Martodmqopeli (literally, “one who lives in solitude”), “a hermit”, while naming the church after the Deity is a reference to the acheiropoietic icon of the Redeemer, reportedly brought by Anton from Edessa. Father Anton opted to live in a secluded enclave on Mount Akriani, where he would pray fervently day and night. Anton became known in the region as a miracle worker and was soon surrounded by a crowd of followers, which in time led to the revival of Martqopi’s monastic life.
Martqopi Monastery has been damaged and restored numerous times through history. The current complex consists of the main dome church, a bell-tower, the Monk Anton’s Pillar, and various other structures. The main church was completely rebuilt in the mid-19th century to replace the older, medieval ruined edifice. Architecturally it is similar to other contemporaneous bell-towers in Georgia. Further to the east, on a hilltop, there is a tower, rnown as the Monk Anton’s Pillar. It is believed to have served as a stylite hermitage in the last 15 years of the monk’s life. Currently, Martqopi Monastery Complex remains open for visitors and is a worthwhile stop for travelers and piligrims.