In the 7th century the monastery of Saint Martyrs was built in the village of Martvili. Its base was a huge oak tree that served as a pagan idol for centuries. People used to worship this oak as a god of fertility, fruitfulness and prosperity. In the 1st century, one of Christ’s Apostles – Andrew the first, converted the natives to Christianity who then cut down the oak tree and built a church named after Andrew the First.

The church is cross-domed, and paintings on the walls date back to the 6th and 7th centuries. A two-storey cathedral was built next to the church in the 10th c.

In the Middle Ages the Martvili Monastery was a centre of culture and education. It attracted many writers, translators and philosophers.