Grigol Khandzeli

The earliest mention of the monastery is found in The Life of Grigol Khandza, a Georgian manuscript dating from the year 951, which is now kept in Jerusalem. In this manuscript it is stated that Saba, the nephew and follower of the priest Grigol Khanzda, founded a monastery on the site of an earlier church. The first church built by Nerses III (641-661) who found refuge in Işhan, had a tetraconch plan (a central dome with four apses radiating to the cardinal points) and was presumably damaged during the Arab invasions of the 7th century. Five Georgian inscriptions within the church and on the southern façade indicate different restoration periods, from 917 until 1032. From the 12th to the end of the 14th century, large vestibules were added to the south, west and north façades. The monastery used to be one of the five patriarchates of Tao-Klarjeti and its church functioned as a cathedral until the 17th century. It was used as the headquarters for the Ottoman officers during the Ottoman-Russian wars in the 19th century, while its west arm was converted into a mosque and remained so until 1983. In 1987, the Turkish Ministry of Culture registered İşhan as a national cultural monument …  More