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.References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.