The Gagra Church, also known as Abaata, is an early medieval Christian church at Gagra in Abkhazia, Georgia. One of the oldest churches in Abkhazia, it is a simple three-nave basilica built in the 6th century and reconstructed in 1902.
The Gagra church stands in the territory of the contemporaneous fortress known as Abaata, now completely in ruins. It is built of blocks of rough ashlar stone. The main entrance is from the westerly located narthex. All three navesare connected with each other via doors. The main nave is lit through three windows in the southern wall and with one window, each on the western wall and in the altar. The church have many common architectural features with similar basilicas in eastern Georgia.
The church was completely reconstructed in 1902 at the behest of Princess Eugenia Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg, wife of Duke Alexander Petrovich of Oldenburg, a member of the Russian imperial family, who turned Gagra into a spa. On 9 January 1903 it was consecrated as the Church of Saint Hypatius. At the same time, the old fortress of Abaata was demolished to pave way to the construction of a hotel. In the Soviet era, the church building was used as a museum of old weaponry. The church underwent some renovation in 2007 and it was restored to Christian use in 2012.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.