Church of St. Simeon the Canaanite

Akhali Atoni, Georgia

The Church of St. Simeon the Canaanite is located near the town of Akhali Atoni in Abkhazia/Georgia, dating from the 9th or 10th century.

The church is dedicated to St. Simon the Canaanite, who, according to the 11th-century Georgian Chronicles, preached Christianity in Abkhazia and Egrisi and died and was buried at the town of Nicopsia, to the north of Abkhazia. A nearby grotto is associated by popular legends with the site of martyrdom of St. Simon.

The design of the extant church dates to the 9th or 10th century and is influenced by the Byzantine and Georgian art traditions, but the church site seems to be two centuries older. At the time when the Georgian historian Dimitri Bakradze visited it in the 1850s, the church was abandoned, but still standing except for the collapsed dome. The church suffered greatly when the local landlord, Major Hasan Margani removed its blocks of stone for the construction of his own mansion. Later, in the 1880s, the church was reconstructed, using blocks of white hewn stone, to its current state. The church is adorned with images of Christian symbols such as a fish, lion, and cross curved in relief.

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Akhali Atoni, Georgia
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Founded: 9th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Georgia

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