David Gareja (Georgian: დავითგარეჯის სამონასტრო კომპლექსი, Davit'garejis samonastro komplek'si; Azerbaijani: Keşiş Dağ) 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. Part of the complex stretches over the territory of Azerbaijan.
The complex was founded in the 6th century by David (St. David Garejeli), one of the thirteen Assyrian monks who arrived in the country at the same time. His disciples Dodo and Luciane expanded the original lavra and founded two other monasteries known as Dodo's Rka (literally, "the horn of Dodo") and Natlismtsemeli ("the Baptist"). The monastery saw further development under the guidance of the 9th-century Georgian saint Ilarion. The convent was particularly patronized by the Georgian royal and noble families. The 12th-century Georgian king Demetre I, the author of the famous Georgian hymn Thou Art a Vineyard, even chose David Gareja as a place of his confinement after he abdicated the throne.
With Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of Perestroika in the 1980s, Shengelaya produced another highly acclaimed tragicomedy about inept bureaucracy Tsisperi mtebi anu daujerebeli ambavi ("Blue Mountains, or Unbelievable Story"), one of the best achievements in the Soviet "social fiction" genre. It won the All-Union Film Festival Prize in 1984 and the USSR State Prize in 1985. After a major success in the 1980s, Eldar Shengelaya distanced himself from the cinema and became involved in the Georgian independence movement, which gained a momentum in 1989.
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