Porta (Khandzta) Monastery

Porta (Khandzta) Monastery

The Porta (Khandzta) Monastery has a significant place in Georgian history, but unfortunately, it currently stands as a series of severely deteriorated ruins located high above the Artvin-Ardahan road.

St. Gregory of Khandzta was a renowned ecclesiastical figure in Georgia, who founded and led numerous monastic communities. His most notable contribution was the establishment of the Monastery of Khandzta, which is also known as Porta.

In 780, St. Gregory of Khandzta relocated to Tao-Klarjeti to revive Georgian monasticism in the region. Tao-Klarjeti is a historical and cultural region situated in north-eastern Turkey and south-western Georgia, encompassing the Chorokhi and Kura river basins, as well as the upper source of the Aras river.

Porta (Khandzta) Monastery

Initially, St. Gregory resided at the Opiza monastery before founding his own monastery at Khandzta in 782. Under his guidance, Khandzta monastery became a powerful monastic stronghold in Tao-Klarjeti.

The initial wooden church at Khandzta was constructed by St. Gregory and his followers during the end of the 8th century, along with a dining hall and living quarters. In 820, a stone church was built during the reign of Ashot I. However, the present church building appears to be a replacement constructed in 918 due to the remote location making the availability of high-quality stone difficult, which had to be transported over long distances. Construction was completed in 941.

Otkhta monastery exhibits various architectural styles. The addition of a bell-tower was made in the 16th century, and a medieval chapel was converted into a fountain with its east wall serving as the water spout.

Following the Ottoman Empire's integration of the region and the progressive Islamization of the population, the monastery was abandoned. Despite significant damage, the main church's major structure has survived on an artificial terrace for a long time. Unfortunately, a critical part of the facade was destroyed, and most of its dome collapsed in 2007.