Gremi is a 16th-century site of royal citadel and the Church of the Archangels. The complex is what has survived from the once flourishing town of Gremi.
Gremi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti in the 16th and 17th centuries. Founded by Levan of Kakheti, it functioned as a lively trading town on the Silk Road and royal residence until being razed to the ground by the armies of Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1615. The town never regained its past prosperity and the kings of Kakheti transferred their capital to Telavi in the mid-17th century. There was big Armenian population.
The town appears to have occupied the area of approximately 40 hectares and to have been composed of three principal parts – the Archangels’ Church complex, the royal residence and the commercial neighborhood. Systematic archaeological studies of the area were carried out in 1939-1949 and 1963-1967, respectively. Since 2007, the monuments of Gremi have been proposed for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Archangels’ Church complex is located on a hill and composed of the Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel itself, a three-story castle, a bell tower and a wine cellar (marani). It is encircled by a wall secured by embrasures, turrets and towers. Remains of the secret tunnel leading to the Ints’obi River have also survived.
The Church of the Archangels was constructed at the behest of King Levan of Kakheti (r. 1520–1574) in 1565 and frescoed by 1577. It is a cruciform domed church built chiefly of stone. Its design marries traditional Georgian masonry with a local interpretation of the contemporary Iranian architectural taste. The building has three entrances, one facing west, one facing to the south, and the third facing to the north. The interior is crowned with a dome supported by the corners of the sanctuary and two basic piers. The façade is divided into three arched sections. The dome sits on an arcaded drum which is punctured by eight windows.
The bell-tower also houses a museum where several archaeological artifacts and the 16th-century cannon are displayed. The walls are adorned with a series of portraits of the kings of Kakheti by the modern Georgian painter Levan Chogoshvili (1985).References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.