MinzarHamatzleva ST 04

The monastery in the snow

Monastery of the Cross Church

The church in the monastery

File:Holy cross info.JPG

The Monastery of the Cross is a monastery in the Nayot neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel. It is located in the Valley of the Cross (Georgian: ჯვრის მონასტერი, Hebrew: עמק המצלבהEmek HaMatzlevah) ( 31°46'20.27"N, 35°12'30.96"E, 783m), below the Israel Museum and the Knesset.


The monastery was built in the 11th century, during the reign of King Bagrat IV by the Georgian Giorgi-Prokhore of Shavsheti. It is believed that the site was originally consecrated in the 4th century under the instruction of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who later gave the site to the Georgian King Mirian III of Iberia after the conversion of his country to Christianity in 327 A.D. [1]

Legend has it that the monastery was erected on the burial spot of Adam's head — though two other locations in Jerusalem also claim this honor — from which grew the tree that gave its wood to the cross on which Christ was crucified.[2]

The monastery is currently occupied by monks of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

Current buildings

The remains of the crusader period monastery forms a small part of the current complex, most of which dates much more recently and has undergone considerable restoration and rebuilding. The crusader section houses a church, including a grotto where a window into the ground below allows viewing of the spot where the tree from which the cross was (reputedly) fashioned grew. Remains from the 4th century are sparse, the most important of which is a fragment of a mosaic. The main complex houses living quarters as well as a museum and gift shop.

Rustaveli fresco

Rustaveli damage 2004

Fresco of Rustaveli, 2004

A fresco of the legendary Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli on a column inside the church was defaced in June 2004 by unknown vandals. The face and part of the accompanying inscription were scratched out. Georgia officially complained to Israel after the incident. [3] Similar incidents occurred in the monastery in 1970s and 1980s. The Georgian inscriptions were painted over and replaced by Greek ones. In the 1901 photograph of the Council of Archangels there are Georgian inscriptions, but on the 1960 photographs the inscriptions are Greek; after cleaning the paintings, the Georgian inscriptions emerged again. The same happened in the case of the Anapeston. In many places (e.g. near the figures of St. Luke and St. Prochore) the outline of Georgian letters are clearly seen under the Greek inscription that is there now; in the 1980s the Greek Patriarchate had the frescoes ‘restored’ or, to be more precise, they were repainted very crudely with oil paints to acquire a more ‘complete aspect,’ as a result of which many features of the original paintings have been lost.


  1. The Wellspring of Georgian Historiography: The Early Medieval Historical Chronicle The Conversion of Katli and The Life of St. Nino, Constantine B. Lerner, England: Bennett and Bloom, London, 2004, p. 35
  2. Sylvester Saller & Bellarmino Bagatti, "The Sanctity and Cult of Lot", first published in The Town of Nebo (Khirbet el-Mekhayyat). With a Brief Survey of Other Ancient Christian Monuments in Transjordan, Jerusalem 1949, 5.193-199. Accessed 2008-03-02
  3. Precious Jerusalem fresco defaced

Coordinates: 31°46′20″N 35°12′29″E / 31.7721°N 35.2080°E / 31.7721; 35.2080fa:صومعه صلیبka:ჯვრის მონასტერი mk:Манастир на крстот

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