The Kintsvisi Monastery complex consists of three churches, of uncertain origin. The central (main) central church dedicated to St Nicholas is thought to date to the early 13th century, in what is generally regarded as the Georgian Golden Age. A very small chapel standing next to it is dedicated to St George, and dates from around the same time. The oldest church, dedicated to St Mary dates from the 10-11th centuries, but is mostly in ruins.
The main church is a large inscribed-cross domed brick building which houses unique examples of medieval mural art from the early 13th century.
In the central position of the cupola is the Hodegetria flanked by the archangels Michael and Gabriel. At the central part of cupola arch is an expressed cross as a medallion. Medallions with the Four Evangelists adorn the pendentives. Images of archangels are repeated on south and west walls of the church. Scenes from the New Testament are presented on north walls, as are portraits of Georgian kings, Giorgi III, Tamar and Giorgi IV Lasha. Particularly remarkable is the figure of a sitting angel (the so-called “Kintsvisi Archangel”) from the Resurrection composition pointing at the open sarcophagus in a gracious manner, represented above the kings' figures, between two windows. These murals date to before 1205 and rank, due to the lavish use of lapis-lazuli to color their backgrounds, among the most beautiful paintings of that period.
These murals were ordered by Anton Gnolistavisdze, a local feudal magnate who served as a royal minister. His fresco with a model of a church in his hand is represented on the lower register of the south wall, along with a severely damaged cycle of images from the life of St Nicholas, and depictions of various Georgian saints.
The murals of the narthex are of a later date, and were painted by the order of a prominent person of the 15th century, Zaza Panaskerteli, whose portrait is represented here as well.
The church of the Virgin Mary also contains an enthroned Hodegetria with a Communion of the Apostles in its ruined apse. The walls of this church were presumably entirely painted in the same manner as the main church, but everything but the apse has collapsed into ruins down the side of the mountain.References:
Tyniec Benedictine abbey was founded by King Casimir the Restorer probably around 1044. Casimir decided to rebuild the newly established Kingdom of Poland, after a Pagan rebellion and a disastrous Czech raid of Duke Bretislaus I (1039). The Benedictines, invited to Tyniec by the King, were tasked with restoring order as well as cementing the position of the State and the Church. First Tyniec Abbot was Aaron, who became the Bishop of Kraków. Since there is no conclusive evidence to support the foundation date as 1040, some historians claim that the abbey was founded by Casimir the Restorer’ son, King Boleslaw II the Generous.
In the second half of the 11th century, a complex of Romanesque buildings was completed, consisting of a basilica and the abbey. In the 14th century, it was destroyed in Tatar and Czech raids, and in the 15th century it was rebuilt in Gothic style. Further remodelings took place in the 17th and 18th centuries, first in Baroque, then in Rococo style. The abbey was partly destroyed in the Swedish invasion of Poland, and soon afterwards was rebuilt, with a new library. Further destruction took place during the Bar Confederation, when Polish rebels turned the abbey into their fortress.
In 1816, Austrian authorities liquidated the abbey, and in 1821-1826, it was the seat of the Bishop of Tyniec, Grzegorz Tomasz Ziegler. The monks, however, did not return to the abbey until 1939, and in 1947, remodelling of the neglected complex was initiated. In 1968, the Church of St. Peter and Paul was once again named the seat of the abbot. The church itself consists of a Gothic presbytery and a Baroque main nave. Several altars were created by an 18th-century Italian sculptor Francesco Placidi. The church also has a late Baroque pulpit by Franciszek Jozef Mangoldt.