The Largvisi Monastery is a medieval Georgian Orthodox monastic foundation in the Ksani river valley in the Akhalgori Municipality. The monastery is documented from the early 14th century. The extant church, a domed cross-in-square design, dates to 1759. It was a familial abbey of the Kvenipneveli dynasty, Dukes of Ksani and one of the leading noble families of the Kingdom of Kartli.
The 15th-century Georgian chronicle of the dukes of Ksani ascribes the foundation of the monastery to the family's legendary 6th-century ancestor Rostom, allegedly a contemporary of the Byzantine emperor Justinian. The monastery is historically better documented from the early 14th century, when generations of the dukes of Ksani made donations to it. The monastery was destroyed during Timur's invasions of Georgia in 1400 and rebuilt and frescoed by Grigol Bandaisdze. In 1470, the monastery was further renovated by the duke Shalva, who also built a defensive wall with a bell-tower on it. Shanshe, Duke of Ksani, added further fortifications, turning it into his castle. In 1759, the church was built as the Monastery of St. Theodore Tyron by the duke David and his mother Ketevan. The event is commemorated in a Georgian asomtavruli inscription of the icon of the Theotokos from Largvisi. This still-extant edifice, which replaced the older domeless one, had a completely new layout.
The Largvisi Monastery sits on a slope of a hill on the confluence of the Ksani and Churta rivers. It is a domed cross-in-square church, with the dimensions of approximately 20 x 12 m. The overall plan is elongated on an east-west axis. The church is built of brick and covered with blocks of hewn stone, with four stone pillars in the nave. The dome rests upon high aisles joining in a cross shape. The church has two, western and southern entrances. Above the western window is a sculpture carved in stone—a human right hand and tools of masonry. The defensive structures adjoining the monastery are parts of a citadel with ruined walls and towers higher on the hill.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.