The Zarzma Monastery is a medieval Orthodox Christian monastery located at the village of Zarzma in Samtskhe-Javakheti region, southwest Georgia.
The Zarzma monastery is nested in the forested river valley of
Kvabliani in the Adigeni municipality, 30 km west of the city of
Akhaltsikh. It is the complex of a series of buildings dominated by
a domed church and a belfry, one of the largest in Georgia.
The earliest church on the site was probably built in the 8th
century, by the monk Serapion whose life is related in the
hagiographic novel by Basil of Zarzma. The extant edifice dates
from the early years of the 14th century, however. Its construction
was sponsored by Beka I, Prince of Samtskhe and Lord High Mandator
of Georgia of the Jaqeli family. What has survived from the earlier
monastery is the late 10th-century Georgian inscription inserted in
the chapel's entrance arch.
The facades of the church are richly decorated and the interior is
frescoed. Apart from the religious cycles of the murals there are a
series of portraits of the 14th-century Jaqeli family as well as of
the historical figures of the 16th century. After the Ottoman
conquest of the area later in the 16th century, the monastery was
abandoned and lay in disrepair until the early 20th century, when
it was reconstructed, but some of the unique characteristics of the
design were lost in the process.