Ushguli

Ushguli is a community of villages located at the head of the Enguri gorge in Upper Svaneti, Georgia.

Also, Ushguli comprises four villages: Zhibiani located at an elevation of some 2100 meters above sea level, Chvibiani, Chazhashi and Murqmeli.

Foremore, Ushguli is located at the foot of Skhara, which is one of the highest Caucasian summits. Number of families inhabited here is about 70 (about 200 people). They support a small school. Ushguli area is covered by snow for 6 months of the year and often the road to Ushguli is impassable.

The characteristic landscape of Upper Svaneti :

Characteristic landscape of Upper Svaneti is formed by small villages dominated by the towers and situated in the mountain slopes with a natural environment and snow-covered mountains. The most notable feature of the settlement is the abundance of towers, especially in the frontier villages such as Ushguli and Latali. These towers usually have from three to five stores and a slender, tapering profile. Upper floors of these towers are exclusively defensive in function serving as platforms for observation and for storing. As for the houses, they are usually two-storeyed. The ground floor is a single hall with accommodation for both people and animals; the second floor is separated by a wooden partition and is often lavishly decorated.

The Ushguli buildings :

Furthermore, The Ushguli villages contain buildings that are part of the UNESCO World heritage site of upper Svaneti. In general, interest in the monuments of Upper Svaneti began in the 19th century. As for the systematic scientific research, it began in the 2nd decade of the 20th century. Monument protection bodies of Georgia carried out restoration and conservation work at 45 churches, 70 towers and 12 dwelling complexes. The Ushguli Museum-Reserve was created to preserve one village in its original form without any modern intrusions.

Also, Some of the inhabitants have elected to stay in the old buildings which have been provided with the necessities of modern life. Some of the unoccupied houses have been restored and furnished as well.

Bagrati cathedral

Kutaisi city

The UNESCO World Heritage

Kutaisi city Bagrati cathedral was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 as single entity.

UNESCO designated endangered the site , which was concerned that the continuing restoration was not carefully prepared. Despite this, proponents of restoration argued that the site was more likely to fall apart if it was let to soak in rainwater, as it had done for centuries.

Also, it is the cathedral of the Dormition or Kutaisi Cathedral, also most commonly known as Bagrati cathedral. It was built in the early years of the 1th century during the reign of the king Bagrat III due to which it was called “Bagrati”.

About Bagrati Cathedral

The Cathedral is located in the center of Kutaisi, the region of Imereti. Resting upon the top of Ukimerioni hill, it was built in the early years of the 11th century. More precisely, as the inscription on the north wall reveals the floor laid in “Chronicon 223. i.e.1003.

Imereti kingdom

 When Ottomans invaded Imereti kingdom in 1512 through its southern neighbor Samtskhe and unexpectedly struck Bagrat’s capital Kutaisi, Bagrati cathedral was devastated by an explosion.

Also, this incident caused cupola and ceiling to collapse. The cathedral was officially rebuilt on September 16, 2012. Nowadays it serves as a masterpiece in the history of modern and medieval Georgian architecture. It is also frequently used as a symbol of the whole city of Kutaisi, being one of its main tourist attractions.

Svetitskhoveli cathedral

Mtskheta :

Svetitskhoveli cathedral is a Georgian orthodox church situated in the ancient historical town of Mtskheta , 20 km northwest from Tbilisi. This cathedral is known as the burial place of Christ’s mantle.  According to Georgian hagiography, in the 1st century AD a Georgian Jew named Elias was in Jerusalem when Christ was crucified. He managed to buy Christ’s mantle from a Roman soldier and bring it back to Georgia. When he returned back to Mtskheta, his native town, his sister Sidonia met him and after touching the mantle she immediately died from the emotions engendered by the sacred object. The robe could not be removed from her grasp and she was buried with it. This place where Sidonia is buried with the mantle is persevered in the cathedral.

Tree of St. Nino :

Later on a cedar tree was grown from her grave. The tree was chopped down and St. Nino made from it seven columns for the church’s foundation. The seventh column had magical properties: it rose itself in the air and returned to earth only after St. Nino prayed the whole night. (Hence the name “Svetitskhoveli”). In Georgian Sveti means “pillar” and “Tskhoveli” means “living.”

History of svetitskhoveli cathedral :

The original church was built in the 4th century AD during the reign of Mirian III of Kartli, byt the original cathedral has been damaged several times during the history notably by the invasions of Arabs, Persians, Timur and lately by Russian subjugation and the Soviet period. The building has also been damaged by earthquakes.

The church architecture :

Restoration period began in 1970 during which the base of basilica built during the reign of Vakhtang Gorgasali after St. Nino was found. Basilica was the dominant type of the Georgian church architecture before the cross-dome style emerged. When Svetitskhoveli was rebuilt in the 11th century, this type of cross-dome was chosen by the architect Arsakidze and Catholicos-Patriarch Melkisedek of Georgia. During the reign of the king Erekle II a defensive wall was built around the cathedral in 1787. The top storey was designed for military purposes and that is why it has gun emplacements. Also it is worth mentioning that archeological expeditions conducted there found the house of Patriarch of the 11th century.

Svetitskhoveli cathedral is the second largest church in Georgia after Tbilisi holy trinity cathedral. It is listed as an UNESCO world heritage site along with other historical monuments of Mtskheta.

Jvari Monastery Mtskheta

Mtskheta-Mtianeti region

Jvari monastery is a Georgian orthodox monastery of the 6th century, It is located in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, eastern Georgia.

Being outstanding monument of Georgian architecture it was one of the greatest religious sites and a center of pilgrimage for Christian nations of the Caucasus.

The wooden cross

Firstly, Jvari church is built on a rocky mountaintop overlooking Mtskheta.

It is a the place where, according to the local legend, a wooden cross was erected by the enlightener of Georgia St.Nino and king Mirian.

Also, the construction of the cross symbolized the fall of paganism and rise of christianity in Georgia.

Exceptional relief sculptures take significant place in the decoration of the facades.

The reliefs depicting the patrons-Stephanos and his family are located on the Eastern façade of the church.

On the southern façade there is also a composition of Ascention of the cross.

Also, on the facet of the drum of the dome there is a figure of a person, possibly the architect.

The present building is generally held to have been 590 and 605. This is based on an inscription on its façade mentioning the principal builders of the church: Stephanos the patricius, Demetrius the Hypatos and Adarnese the hypatos. The importance of the church gradually increased over time and attracted more and more pilgrims every year. In the late Middle Ages the complex was fortified by a stone wall and gate, remnants of which still survive. During the Soviet Union period the church was preserved as a national monument but access was rendered difficult. After Georgia gained its independence the building was restored to active religious use and it was listed as UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994.

Gelati monastery – Kutaisi City

why Gelati monastery is important place :

Gelati monastery was not simply a monastery. It was a monastic complex which served as a center of science and education. An academy established there was one of the most important centers of culture in ancient Georgia.

Architecture of Gelati monastery :

Also, it should be mentioned,that monastery is important for its architecture as well.

There are mosaics, frescoes, enamel and metal works of paramount importance.

History of the place

The monastery belongs to the “Golden age”, which was a period of political strength and economic growth. Also, this Golden Age was between the reign of David VI (1089-11250 and Queen Tamar (1184-1213).

It was David who began building the monastery and it was completed by his successor Demetre.

13th and 14th century

Several buildings were added to the complex in 13th and 14th century, but then foreign invasions took place and Gelati complex was destroyed by fire in 1510 by Turkish invaders.

In 16th century the monastic complex became the residence of the Katholikos of western Georgia and the restoration work began, which continued throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.

When Georgia was annexed by the Russian empire in the 19th century, Gelati monastery lost its Episcopal role.

Grave of David the Builder in Gelati.

Also, There is a grave of David the Builder in Gelati.

He was the very king who began building the monastic complex.

The gates of Ganja taken as trophies by the king Demetre can be found near his grave.

Gelati monastery was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Also it was listed in the 2008 World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered sites in order to draw attention to deterioration.