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“One hell of experience in a holy place”

Bodbe Monastery of St. Nino
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US$39.00*
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Full-Day Signagi and Bodbe Tour in Kakheti from...
Ranked #2 of 17 things to do in Signagi
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed 25 January 2012

St.Nino Covent in Bodbe, one the most important sanctuaries in Georgia, shouldn’t be missed once you are anyway in Signaghi; it’s only 2km away.

This monastery, famous for being a burial place of Equiapostolic Nino, the Enlightener of Georgia, is one of the holiest Georgian religious sites and presently an acting nunnery. Therefore strict dress-code must be observed here. Otherwise entrance is free.

The convent’s patroness, St.Nino, originally born in Cappadocia, came to Georgia with the missionary aim after the vision of the Blessed Virgin that she had at the age of 14, who announced of her assignment to convert an ancient East Georgian Kingdom of Iberia to Christianity, which she successfully did, passing away soon after this in the village of Bodbe.

The monastery in Bodbe had been established in the beginning of IV century by the then Iberian King Mirian III, after St.Nino’s death. The Annals say originally King Mirian III intended to bury the relics of St.Nino in Svetitskoveli Church in Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia; but two hundred people failed to move her burial bed then. This is why a small monastery was soon created over St.Nino’s tomb in Bodbe.

Ever since then, the monastery had been gaining significance and eventually turned into an important pilgrimage site that it still is.

The convent used to enjoy royal patronage in the past: it was a coronation place for Kakheti and Kartli Kings; in XIX, Russian emperor Alexander III reopened the convent and established a nunnery here; and in early XX, Russian emperor Nikolay II had bestowed it with the title of the “first-class monastery”. But soon the convent had been closed by Bolshevik Russian authorities, and was only reopened by the independent Georgia in 1991.

Today, the monastery complex consists of the tall Bell-tower, the Church above St.Nino's tomb and monastery premises (cells, refectory, workshops etc). It is surrounded by a very well trimmed garden with high Cypress trees. There is also a St.Nino’s spring not far from the convent, with the chapel by it. To reach the spring, take the stone stairway through the gates and down the hill, then walk along the ground path towards the stone baths and a chapel of St.Zabulon and St.Sosanna (Nino’s parents).

In 1995, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II blessed the restoration of the convent, and some reconstruction works were still underway when we visited it this January.

The interior of the small church of the Convent is richly decorated with frescoes, and there are few impressive icons in it. But it is mainly attractive for visitors and pilgrims for the tomb of St.Nino. Back in XIX, a sepulchral image of Nino had been created over her tomb, later covered with a marble memorial.

The photography isn’t allowed inside the church; there’s a prohibitive sign at the entrance. And it was precisely over this that my entire experience in the Convent had been ruined.

I hunkered down to the tomb to better feel the atmosphere of the place, and sat there still for a while. When I returned to the centre of the church, a nun had started to harass me for taking photos, which I didn’t and told her so. She wouldn’t believe my word and was shockingly aggressive for a churchperson. Well, at least this made me feel like at home, being harassed by fanatic “babushkas” in our Orthodox churches. Except that they are never blessed to do so.

It made for a terrible ending to what had started as an inspiring visit to the holiest place.. But I still recommend seeing St.Nino’s Convent in Bodbe. Just ignore its aggressive nuns.

3  Thank Cora_v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"old church"
in 11 reviews
"alazani valley"
in 14 reviews
"holy water"
in 6 reviews
"burial place"
in 6 reviews
"bell tower"
in 6 reviews
"main church"
in 5 reviews
"peaceful place"
in 4 reviews
"nice view"
in 6 reviews
"tall cypress trees"
in 3 reviews
"century ad"
in 2 reviews
"beautiful site"
in 2 reviews
"souvenirs shop"
in 2 reviews
"an easy walk"
in 2 reviews
"buried here"
in 2 reviews
"nice garden"
in 2 reviews
"nice walk"
in 2 reviews
"nuns"
in 23 reviews
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Reviewed 12 October 2018 via mobile
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