Landscape and Tree, near David Gareja, Georgia
David Gareja is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia, on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja, some 60–70 km southeast of Georgia's capital Tbilisi. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face.
The semi-desert landscape here was the focal point of a hermitage founded in the 6th Century by St David Garejeli, one of thirteen Assyrian monks sent to consolidate Christian teachings in Georgia, which 200 years before had become one of the first countries to adopt Christianity as a state religion. The appellation of Gareji refers to the practice of solitary meditation and withdrawal from worldly concerns that motivated his choice of this barren and remote area to found a monastic community.
Beginning with a single lavra – a group of cells for hermit monks - the community grew to number nineteen cave monasteries, with over 5000 monks' cells and ritual spaces, as well as rooms housing the varied industries required for life in what eventually amounted to a small town.