According to the old Georgian annals, the Anchiskhati Basilica was built by the King Dachi of Iberia (circa 522-534) who had made Tbilisi his capital. Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it was renamed Anchiskhati (icon of Ancha) in 1675 when the treasured icon of the Savior created by the twelfth-century goldsmith Beka Opizari at the Ancha monastery in Klarjeti (in what is now part of northeast Turkey) was moved to Tbilisi so preserve it from an Ottoman invasion. The icon was preserved at the Basilica of St Mary for centuries (it is now on display at the Art Museum of Georgia).
The basilica was damaged and rebuilt on several occasions from the 15th through 17th centuries due to wars between Georgia and the Persians and Turks. The brick belfry near the Anchiskhati Basilica was built by Catholicos Domenti in 1675.
The look of the structure was drastically changed in the 1870s, when a dome was added. During the Soviet period, all religious ceremonies at Anchiskhati Basilica were halted, and the building transformed into a museum for handicrafts. It was later used as an art studio. From 1958 to 1964 restoration works took place in celebration of the 1500th Jubilee of the founding of Tbilisi, which changed the view of the church back to the seventeenth-century version, however, it was not until 1991, after the independence of Georgia was restored, that the basilica reverted to religious use.
Anchiskhati Basilica is a three-span basilica, divided by two abutments forming horseshoe shaped conches, which indicates the antiquity of its construction. Originally constructed of blocks of yellow tuff stone, the 1958-1964 restoration made extensive use of brick. The structure has entrances on three sides, but today only the western entrance is in use. Aside from the altarpiece, which was painted in 1683 by order of Catholicos Nikoloz Amilakhvari, all of the remaining paintings in the church date from the 19th century.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.