Nino Bagrationi
Giorgi Bagrationi
Giorgi Bagrationi
Gia Shervashidze

Opiza was the first monastic centre in Georgia. Kartlis Tskhovreba (The Life of Kartli or the old Georgian chronicles) associates the foundation of Opiza Monastery with the reign of the 5th century Georgian King Vakhtang Gorgasali. Tradition has it that the throat of John the Baptist was kept at Opiza.

According to Giorgi Merchule, Grigol Khandzteli (Gregory of Khandzta) and Opiza fathers stayed at Opiza and helped him in the construction of Khandzta Monastery.

Nestled among the cliffy mountains of Klarjeti, Opiza Monastery consisted of several buildings. At present, nothing but the ruins of a large church survive. The church was destroyed as a result of an explosion conductedin the second half of the 20th century for the construction of a road. The church was cruciform-shaped with the dome carried by the corners of the cross-arms. There are pastophoria on the east. The west arm is five times as long as lateral arms.

Opiza Church was faced with neatly cut stone. The dome was adorned with an arcade. The building was topped by an umbrella-shaped roof. The Georgian National Museum keeps a stone relief from Opiza featuring the donor of the church and Biblical David. W. Djobadze assigned the church to the early 10th century.

To the west of the church are the ruins of monastic buildings among which most remarkable is a structure built of huge stones and covered with vaults. Nearby are the ruins of a bell-tower. There are different chambers, including burial chambers,half buried on the lower level.