Anchiskhati Basilica

Tbilisi, Georgia

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.

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Details

Founded: 6th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Georgia

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Adam Jones (7 months ago)
Rather small Georgian church in the old city
Mateusz (13 months ago)
Georgian orthodox church from early medieval period. No English description of the building or it's inside. However, it is really interesting to see such old architecture piece to be still used for its original purpose. I waited only because I did not wanted to interrupt baptism service.
Amir Hossein Kh (2 years ago)
The oldest church in Tbilisi with 400 years old pictures
Hans Muelder (2 years ago)
nice little old church; it is forbidden to take pictures so please don’t
Susanne Scott (2 years ago)
Beautiful old church!! I listened to a service and admired the interior. Fantastic gift shop on the grounds with lovely enamel jewelry, original painted magnets & other unusual finds.
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