Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral

Tbilisi, Georgia

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 reconstructed several times. The current church is based on a 13th-century version with some changes from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Sioni Cathedral was the main Georgian Orthodox Cathedral and the seat of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia until the Holy Trinity Cathedral was consecrated in 2004.

The cathedral's interior took on a different look between 1850 and 1860, when the Russian artist and general Knyaz Grigory Gagarin (1810–1893) composed an interesting series of the murals, though a number of medieval frescoes were lost in the process.

The Sioni Cathedral is a typical example of medieval Georgian church architecture of an inscribed cross design with projecting polygonal apses in the east façade. The yellow tuff from which the cathedral was built comes from Bolnisi, a town southwest of Tbilisi. The facades are simple, with few decorations, although there are bas-relief carvings of a cross and a chained lion on the western side and an angel and saints on the north. All sixteen windows have carved ornamental frames.

North of the cathedral, within the courtyard, is a freestanding three-story bell tower dating from the 1425 reconstruction by King Alexander I. Largely destroyed by the Persians in 1795, it was restored to its present condition in 1939. Across the street stands another three-story bell tower; one of the earliest example of Russian Neoclassical architecture in the region. Complete in 1812, the bell tower was commissioned under Pavel Tsitsianov using money awarded in recognition of his conquest of Ganja for the Russian Empire.



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Founded: 13th century
Category: Religious sites in Georgia

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User Reviews

JIJEESH UPENDRAN (2 months ago)
The Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral is situated in historic Sioni Street in downtown Tbilisi, in the banks of Kura River. 6th century monument with reconstruction in 13th century. Georgian orthodox cathedral. Photography is prohibited inside the church. Still a regularly operated church.
Pook Sutatta (2 months ago)
Beautiful cathedral!!! Located in mid town , very easy to find and you're allow to go in and pray.
Term (2 months ago)
Very beautiful Cathedral​ in Tbilisi I like it
Rhys Travel (4 months ago)
Beautiful cathedral. Although taking photos wasn't allowed inside.
Koen (6 months ago)
On the right bank of the Mtkvari (Kura) River in the heart of Old Tbilisi stands the very important Sioni Cathedral. Until 2004 this was the seat of the Catholicos of All Georgia, but the church is mainly an important pilgrimage site because of the presence of the cross of St. Nino. The cross is made of vines and tied together with the saint's hair. There is a replica in the church, the original is kept safely elsewhere. The first Sioni church was built in the 5th century, the current one dates from the 13th century with adjustments from the 17th and 19th centuries. The bell tower also dates from the 19th century. Although the church is named after Mount Zion, it is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. Historical, beautiful and impressive, definitely don't miss it if you visit Tbilsi.
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