The location of Motsameta is the more spectacular but the interior is overshadowed by Gelati. The monastery is from the 11th Century and was built to honour two brothers who died during an attack by Arabs in the 8th Century.
At the time the two brothers, David and Konstantin, were the local lords. During the war with the Arabs they were captured and tortured after they refused to convert to Islam. They were both killed and their bodies thrown into the river. The blood spilled is what has given the river which runs in the gorge far below the monastery its name – the Red River.
According to the legend a lion brought the bodies up to the church where their bones are kept in the decorated gold coffin shown in the above photo. The story says that if you crawl three times through the narrow passageway below it your prayers will be answered.
The frescoes in Motsameta are much brighter than those found in Gelati since they are more recent. The originals were destroyed in a fire in 1923. Some say that this detracts from the atmosphere but we found that the ambience was just different. Motsameta feels more like a working monastery and is well worth the stop.