Bagrati Cathedral

Kutaisi, Georgia

Bagrati Cathedral is an 11th-century cathedral church in the city of Kutaisi. A masterpiece of the medieval Georgian architecture, the cathedral suffered heavy damage throughout centuries and was reconstructed to its present state through a gradual process starting in the 1950s, with major conservation works concluding in 2012. A distinct landmark in the scenery of central Kutaisi, the cathedral rests on the Ukimerioni Hill.

Bagrati Cathedral was built in the early years of the 11th century, during the reign of King Bagrat III. An inscription on the north wall reveals that the floor was laid in 'chronicon 223', i.e., 1003. In 1692, it was devastated in an explosion by Ottoman troops who had invaded the Kingdom of Imereti. The incident caused the cupola and ceiling to collapse.

Conservation and restoration works, as well as archaeological studies at the Cathedral began in the 1950s under the leadership of a Georgian architect Vakhtang Tsintsadze. The restoration works headed by Tsintsadze were divided into six stages and continued for several decades through 1994. That same year in 1994 Bagrati Cathedral, together with the Gelati Monastery, was included in UNESCO's World Heritage Site list as a single entity. In 2001, ownership of the cathedral was transferred from the Georgian state to the Georgian Orthodox Church. It is presently of limited use for religious services, but attracts many pilgrims and tourists. It is also frequently used as a symbol of the city of Kutaisi, being one of its main tourist attractions.

In 2010, under the leadership of an Italian architect Andrea Bruno, Georgia commenced reconstruction works aimed at returning Bagrati Cathedral to its original state as a religious space. In July 2010 UNESCO added Bagratli cathedral to its list of endangered world heritage sites in part because of the continuing reconstruction, which it feared would affect the structural integrity and authenticity of the site. Even before the reconstruction works, in 2008 ICOMOS was concerned about the deteriorating state of Bagrati, but it commended that any conservation efforts by the Government should not include a type of reconstruction which would affect the site's historical value. In 2011 UNESCO urged the Georgian government authorities to develop a rehabilitation strategy that would reverse some of the changes made to the site in recent years, but it acknowledged that these alterations may be 'almost irreversible'. In 2013, architect Andrea Bruno was awarded a Georgian state gold medal for his role in the Bagrati Cathedral reconstruction and was subsequently recognized for this project with the University of Ferrara Domus International Prize for Restoration and Conservation. UNESCO removed Bagrati Cathedral from its World Heritage sites in 2017, considering its major reconstruction detrimental to its integrity and authenticity.

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Details

Founded: c. 1003
Category: Religious sites in Georgia

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

James McAsey (17 months ago)
Restored orthodox church that whilst a little modern feeling is still very impressive. Incredible views over the city. Sitting on the fortress wall is a perfect place to watch the sun set.
Marius Hartung (18 months ago)
Nice historic church bedded inside beautiful neighbourhood. You can visit the inside for free and the location is also perfect for a great view over the City with the river from above. If you want to go up from old town by feet you can use after crossing the bridge the stairs which shortens the way compared to the road. After you visited the church you can follow the street to the other side you to reach the botanical garden which is worth to see for just 1 lari.
Vojtěch ŠAMAJ (18 months ago)
João Carlos Vergueiro (19 months ago)
Nice location, great sightseeing spot, you can view snowy mountains, the town, the river... Very pretty. My 3 stars is due to them not respecting the opening and closing times. They open whenever they feel like, but advertise opening at 9am. So some people go there and do not see the church.
Szilvia Pozsgai (19 months ago)
Nice church with good view. I didn't like the way it's renovated... There was also a funny priest who tried to sell some CD and asked if I'm married. You can climb on the wall in the garden for even better view.
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