Cathedrals in Georgia

Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral

Following a medieval Georgian tradition of naming churches after particular places in the Holy Land, the Sioni Cathedral bears the name of Mount Zion at Jerusalem. It is commonly known as the 'Tbilisi Sioni' to distinguish it from several other churches across Georgia bearing the name Sioni. It was initially built in the 6th and 7th centuries. Since then, it has been destroyed by foreign invaders and recon ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral located in the historic town of Mtskheta, A masterpiece of the Early Middle Ages, Svetitskhoveli is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is currently the second largest church building in Georgia. History The original church was built in 4th century A.D. during the reign of Mirian III of Kartli. According to Georgian hagiography, ...
Founded: 1010-1029 | Location: Mtskheta, Georgia

Holy Trinity Cathedral

The Holy Trinity Cathedral (known as Sameba) is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church located in Tbilisi. Constructed between 1995 and 2004, it is the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world and one of the largest religious buildings in the world by total area. Sameba is a synthesis of traditional styles dominating the Georgian church architecture at various stages in history and has s ...
Founded: 1995-2004 | Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

Bagrati Cathedral

Bagrati Cathedral is an 11th-century cathedral church in the city of Kutaisi. A masterpiece of the medieval Georgian architecture, the cathedral suffered heavy damage throughout centuries and was reconstructed to its present state through a gradual process starting in the 1950s, with major conservation works concluding in 2012. A distinct landmark in the scenery of central Kutaisi, the cathedral rests on the Ukimerioni ...
Founded: c. 1003 | Location: Kutaisi, Georgia

Virgin Mary Cathedral

The temple was built as a Catholic church between 1806 and 1810. In 1920, it was heavily damaged by an earthquake. During Soviet times, Gori’s Music School was situated in the church. The building was handed over to the Georgian Orthodox Church in the 1990s. Currently, Samtavisi and Gori Cathedral belong to the episcopacy.
Founded: 1806-1810 | Location: Gori, Georgia

Alaverdi Monastery

Alaverdi Monastery is a Georgian Eastern Orthodox monastery located 25 km from Akhmeta. While parts of the monastery date back to 6th century, the present day cathedral was built in the 11th century by Kvirike III of Kakheti, replacing an older church of St. George. The monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, then a small village and former paga ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Akhmeta, Georgia

Manglisi Cathedral

Manglisi Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox cathedral near the town of Manglisi. The first church was built in 4th century. The current cathedral was constructed in 6th-7th century. The cathedral went through a huge restoration in 1002.
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Manglisi, Georgia

Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral

Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox basilica was built in 478–493. It is the oldest extant church building in Georgia. Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral is known for its Georgian Bolnisi inscriptions. These are one of the oldest historical documents of the Georgian alphabet.
Founded: 478-493 AD | Location: Bolnisi, Georgia

Poti Cathedral

Poti Cathedral is an imitation of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, and it was built in 1906-07 with the great contribution of Niko Nikoladze, the mayor of Poti. Notably, Niko Nikoladze chose the location of the cathedral in the center of the town to make it viewable from every side of Poti. A. Zelenko and M. Marfeld were the architects of this Neo-Byzantine cathedral and the capacity of the church is 2,000 people. The orna ...
Founded: 1906-1907 | Location: Poti, Georgia

Pitsunda Cathedral

The Pitsunda or Bichvinta Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox Cathedral located in Pitsunda, in the Gagra district of the de facto independent Republic of Abkhazia, internationally recognised as constituting a part of Georgia. The cathedral is currently used by the Abkhazian Orthodox Church and serves as that body"s seat, although this usage is disputed by the Republic of Georgia and is considered irregular ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Pitsunda, Georgia

Nikortsminda Cathedral

Nikortsminda Cathedral was built in 1010-1014 during the reign of Bagrat III of Georgia and was repaired in 1634 by the King Bagrat III of Imereti. Three-storied bell-tower next to the Cathedral was built in the second half of the 19th century. Frescoes inside the Cathedral date from the 17th century. Nikortsminda has a massive dome and has unbroken arcatures as its twelve windows, which are decorated with ornamente ...
Founded: 1010-1014 | Location: Nikortsminda, Georgia

Samtavisi Cathedral

Samtavisi is an eleventh-century Georgian Orthodox cathedral 45km from Tbilisi. According to a Georgian tradition, the first monastery on this place was founded by the Assyrian missionary Isidore in 572 and later rebuilt in the 10th century. Neither of these buildings has survived however. The earliest extant structures date to the eleventh century, the main edifice being built in 1030 as revealed by a now lost stone ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Samtavisi, Georgia

Skhalta Cathedral

Skhalta Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox monastery and cathedral church in Adjara, Georgia, dating from the mid-13th century. It is a large hall church design, with fragments of the 14th or 15th century Paleologian-style wall painting. Skhalta is the only medieval church in Adjara that survived both the Ottoman and Soviet periods to become functional again in 1990. It currently serves as a seat of the Georgi ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Adjara, Georgia

Dranda Cathedral

Dranda Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox Cathedral located in Dranda, in the Gulripshi district of the de facto independent Republic of Abkhazia, internationally recognised to constitute a part of Georgia. According to the Roman historian Procopius of Caesarea, in 551 emperor Justinian I built a temple in these environs, this is believed by some to have been what is now the cathedral in Dranda. In the Georgi ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Drandra, Georgia

Bedia Cathedral

Bedia Cathedral is a medieval Georgian Orthodox cathedral located in Bedia, in a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. Bedia Cathedral was originally built at the close of the 10th century and consecrated in 999 on the behest of King Bagrat II of Abkhazians, who would go on to become King of the Georgians as Bagrat III and who was interred at the church after his death. The extant edifices, however, date back ...
Founded: 999 AD | Location: Ochamchire, Georgia

Mokvi Cathedral

Mokvi Cathedral consists of five naves, built in the third quarter of the 10th century, during the reign of king Leon III of Abkhazia. According to a non-extant inscription (found by Patriarch Dositheos II of Jerusalem who visited Mokvi in 1659) the church was painted during the reign of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and David IV of Georgia. In the Catholicate of Abkhazia Mokvi was the seat of a Bishop at least until ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Ochamchire, Georgia

Ertatsminda Cathedral

The Ertatsminda Cathedral of Eustathius of Mtskheta was built in the 13th century. The Ertatsminda cathedral stylistically resembles the other Georgian churches of the 12th-13th centuries.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ertatsminda, Georgia

Kumurdo Cathedral

Kumurdo Cathedral is situated on Javakheti Plateau, 12 km southwest from Akhalkalaki. According to the inscriptions on the walls, written with the ancient Georgian writing of Asomtavruli, the Kumurdo Cathedral was built by Ioane the Bishop during the reign of king of the Abkhazians Leon III in 964. During the Middle Ages, Kumurdo was an important cultural, educational and religious center. The cathedral was restore ...
Founded: 964 AD | Location: Akhalkalaki, Georgia

Tsalenjikha Cathedral

The Tsalenjikha Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Savior is a medieval Georgian Orthodox cathedral at the town of Tsalenjikha. It is best known for a unique cycle of murals which exemplifies the direct import of Byzantine Palaeologan style and even artists in Georgia. Built in the 12th-14th centuries, the Tsalenjikha Cathedral is a central cross-domed church with a narthex and three arcaded galleries two ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tsalenjikha, Georgia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.