ShioMghvime is located in a narrow limestone canyon near Mtskheta (13km) at about 30 km away from Tbilisi.The Monastery complex consist of several buildings: Cave-church, St. John the Baptist Church, the bell tower, Shio’s cemetery-church, St. Mary’s Cathedral with a tower, refectory, rock-cut caves, monks residential buildings and spring.
The story of establishment of the ShioMgvime monastery goes back to the VI century when one of the Thirteen Syrian Fathers, monk Shio, chose a dark isolated cave to live in. St. Shio is said to have spent his last years as a hermit in the cave subsequently named Shio Mghvime (“the Cave of Shio”) after him. His grave is still visible there today. In XI century a church was built over Shio’s tomb by Michael, the abbot of the monastery.
According to the legend Shio was fed by pigeons. Evagrius noticed the pigeon while hunting and followed it. The pigeon brought him to Shio. After talking for a while Evagrius decided to become a monk. You can even see an underground cave of St Evagrius in the complex.
The story of the spring, which today is known as “The Monk’s tears” is connected to Shio’s name too. Monks usually fetched water from the river Mtkvari. Once, a monk while fetching water from the river, broke his pottery and started crying. Shio said to the Monk not to cry as the God would make a little spring instead of his tears.
The oldest church, the Monastery of St. John the Baptist, dates back to 560-580 and is the simple cruciform building with octagonal dome.
The domed church of the Assumption of the Virgin was built by David the Builder but in 1668 three nave basilica Church was built by Givi Amilakhori on a fully destroyed church.
A refectory was built between XII-XVII centuries. A XVII century small chapel adorned with medieval murals stands separately on a nearby hill.
The monastery complex was closed during the Soviet period. It is now functional and attracts many pilgrims and tourists.
The main highlights nearby are Svetitskhoveli, Jvari Monastery, Samtavro.