Martvili Monastery (Region of Mingrelia)
Martvili Monastery is a Georgian monastic complex located in the village of Martvili in theMartvili District. It sits upon the highest hill in the vicinity and was of strategic importance. The site upon the hill where the monastery stands today was used in ancient times as a pagan cultural center and was a sacred site. There once stood an ancient and enormous oak tree that was worshipped as an idol of fertility and prosperity. Infants were once sacrificed here as well. After the conversion of the native population to Christianity, the ancient tree was cut down so as not to worship it anymore. A church was originally constructed in the late 7th century upon the roots of the old oak tree and was named in honor of Saint Andrew who preached Christianity and converted the pagans across the Samegrelo region.
There was a scriptorium in the monastery. Collection of manuscripts created here is in safe keeping at the National Center of Manuscripts. Martvili church is a construction of earlier cross-dome types of buildings and looks very much like Jvari monastery in Mtskheta. Invasions of Turks and Arabs have damaged it considerably, and due to that, in the X century, the church was substantially overhauled by the king of the Abkhaz, Giorgi II (923-957). New support of the dome was made, outer walls were added, burial vault was leaned to. The painting of the monastery was performed in the XVI-XVII centuries by orders of Odishi rulers. To the north of the main cathedral, on the fence stands three-level minuscule cross-dome type church of Chikvani constructed of cut stones.