Ateni Sioni Church

Ateni, Georgia

The Ateni Sioni Church is an early 7th-century Georgian Orthodox church in the village of Ateni, some 10 km south of the city of Gori, Georgia. It stands in a setting of the Tana River valley known not only for its historical monuments but also for its picturesque landscapes and wine. The name 'Sioni' derives from Mount Zion at Jerusalem.

Sioni is an early example of a 'four-apse church with four niches' domed tetraconch (between the four apses are three-quarter cylindrical niches which are open to the central space). The church's cruciform interior measures 24m x 19.22m, and its façades are faced with carved rectangular greenish-gray stones, richly decorated with ornaments and figurative reliefs. The church is not dated but is very similar in design to the Jvari Monastery at Mtskheta, which is generally held to have preceded it, and, hence, has been described by some art historians as belonging to the 'Jvari-type' group of churches. Todosak, mentioned in an undated Armenian inscription on the southern facade as 'I, Todosak, the builder of this holy church' is considered to have been an Armenian architect of the original church or its late 10th-century renovator.

The walls of the church contain the earliest known inscriptions in Nuskhuri or Nuskha-Khutsuri, one of the versions of the early Georgian alphabet, dating from 835. The earliest known examples of Mkhedruli, a currently used Georgian script, are also found in the Ateni Sioni church and date to the 980s. One of the inscriptions on the church commemorates Adarnase I of Tao-Klarjeti, the first documented Georgian Bagratid nobleman who was the father of Ashot I, the founder of the new royal line of Georgia.

Near the church there are the ruins of the medieval fortified town of Ateni (modern-day villages of Didi Ateni and Patara Ateni).



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Founded: 7th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Georgia

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User Reviews

Rock n Roll (11 months ago)
If you ever get in the city of Gori, you should definitely spend 30 minutes to visit this place.
Tamuna iobidze (16 months ago)
Ateni Sioni Church is one of the most outstanding religious architectural masterpieces of Georgia, covering different time periods, starting from 2nd-1st century BC. It is a very interesting place, with more than 16000 inscriptions in different languages on the stones, and if a monument could describe Georgian History, Ateni Sioni would the one. a little tip - there is an amazing local guide, you ahould absolutely use his service if you want to find out more about the place.
Karolina Zygmanowska (17 months ago)
I really recommend visiting this place. The whole church is lovely with stunning exemples of medieval masonry. Inside remnants of frescoes still survive. In the neighbourhood there is a couple of pleasant less known wineries. And nearby starts an intermediate hiking trail across the surrounding hills.
Julia Rozhkova (17 months ago)
It's under renovation now (January 2023) and I loved to see some small details. The view is stunning!
Lewis Mindy (2 years ago)
Wonderful walk from Gori or take a marshrutka or a taxi if time is short. There are people working on the church and grounds but somebody opened up for me and switched on the lights. The frescoes are not pristine but they have a charm all of their own. Worth a visit in my opinion. Free entry. Open 08.00 until 18.00. Adhere to the usual church dress code.
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