Samtavisi Cathedral

Samtavisi, Georgia

Samtavisi is an eleventh-century Georgian Orthodox cathedral 45km from Tbilisi. According to a Georgian tradition, the first monastery on this place was founded by the Assyrian missionary Isidore in 572 and later rebuilt in the 10th century. Neither of these buildings has survived however. The earliest extant structures date to the eleventh century, the main edifice being built in 1030 as revealed by a now lost stone inscription. The cathedral was built by a local bishop and a skilful architect Hilarion who also authored the nearby church of Ashuriani. Heavily damaged by a series of earthquakes, the Cathedral was partially reconstructed in the 15th and 19th centuries. The masterly decorated eastern façade is the only survived original structure.

The Samtavisi Cathedral is a rectangular 4-piered cruciform domed church. It illustrates a Georgian interpretation of the cross-in-square form which set an example for many churches built in the heyday of medieval Georgia. The exterior is distinguished by the liberal use of ornamental blind arcading. The apses do not project, but their internal position is marked by deep recesses in the wall. In contrast to earlier Georgian churches, the drum of the dome is taller surmounted by a conical roof. Artistically, the most rounded portion of the church is its five-arched eastern façade, dominated by the two niches and enlivened by a bold ornate cross motif.

Beyond the main church, the Samtavisi complex includes a badly damaged two-storied bishop’s residence, a small church (5.8х3.2m), and a three-storied belltower (5.7х7.3m) attached to the 3-5m high fence made of stone and brick. All these structures date to the 17th-18th centuries.

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Details

Founded: 11th century
Category: Religious sites in Georgia

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nana Kartvelishvili (11 months ago)
Beautifully adorned church, very easily accessible. If you are travelling by Senaki-Leselidze highway, you can drop in and will need not more than 20 minutes.
Ralph Sch. (11 months ago)
Its really a nice place... Just next to the highway and definitely worth a stop. Its not a touristic route...
Nick Georgia (15 months ago)
Samtavisi cathedral is Georgia's one of the most impressive architectural edifices.This domed Cathedral, built in 1030 by architect Hillarion Samtavneli, is remarkable due to the beauty of proportions and refinement of carving on the façades. Compared with other similar structures of the same period its plan is somewhat truncated, almost square. There is a new system of decoration on the eastern façade, which was later developed more fully and became popular it is a composition in the form of a large ornamented cross and decorated window surrounds with lozenge pattern beneath them. A blind arcade forms an organic part of the overall decoration of the façade. Besides the splendidly executed carving, there is an interesting bas-relief of griffin, under the right-hand arch. There are fragments of 17th century frescoes in the interior. The Cathedral has been repaired repeatedly. In the 15th century, the dome and the western wall were built anew. Within the enclosed area of the Cathedral, there are the remains of a dwelling, the so-called bishop's palace. At the entry to the enclosure stands a gate belfry of the late feudal period.
Badri Nadaraia (2 years ago)
Calm and peaceful place. Really worth to be seen.
Owen McMullen (2 years ago)
Amazing cathedral, on par with the best of Georgia. Friendly nuns as well!
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