Betania Monastery (Surroundings of Tbilisi)
Betania is Georgian Orthodox monastery founded in 12-13th centuries. The church is situated in Didgori municipality, right side of Vere river, 16 km away from Tbilisi. It is a remarkable piece of architecture of the “Golden Age” of the Kingdom of Georgia and is notable for its wall paintings which include a group portrait of the contemporary Georgian monarchs.
A series of conflicts and foreign invasions that fill the history of Georgia left the monastery depopulated and half-ruined. It was restored, in the latter half of the 19th century, through the efforts of Hieromonk Spiridon Ketiladze who resigned as an abbot in 1922 and was succeeded by Hieromonk Ilia Pantsulaia. Both these monks were shot during the Soviet purges. Betania remained the only operating Georgian monastery, though unofficially, until 1963 when it also became defunct for the next 15 years. In 1978, the energetic Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II succeeded in obtaining permission from the Soviet authorities to reopen a monastery at Betania.