The Mysterious Cave City and Monastery of Vardzia, 1185 AD
One of the most little known marvels of the world is the ancient cave city of Vardzia. It is every bit as impressive as the Roman Colosseum or the Pyramids of Giza. Built astride and into the sheer cliff face of a mountain, it resembles something of a hybrid of ancient Petra in Jordan and the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings of the U.S (or for those familiar with the works of Tolkien, a Minas Tirith in ruins!).
Known as the cave city or monastery of Vardzia, it was dug into the side of Mount Erusheli near the town of Aspindza and the Mtkvari river in southern Georgia during the late 12th century. During this time the medieval kingdom of Georgia was resisting the onslaught of the Mongol hordes. Queen Tamar ordered the construction of this underground sanctuary in 1185 AD. When completed this underground fortress extended 13 levels and contained 6,000 apartments, a throne room and a large church with an external bell tower.