Tour: Kutaisi, Motsameta Monastery, Bagrati Cathedral, Gelati Monastery

Travel Company WALKER
Tour highlights:

  • Kutaisi
  • Motsameta Monastery
  • Bagrati Cathedral
  • Gelati Monastery

 

Kutaisi is in Imereti region located on the bank of Rioni River. The city lies at an elevation of 125–300 meters above sea level and is considered as the center of Imereti. Imereti Region Geographically is located at the center of Georgia and has a good natural boundaries.

Kutaisi is one of the oldest cities in Georgia. Archaeological sites discovered in the territory of Imereti proves that in this part of the world, people started living in the lower Paleolithic period.

Here is confirmed the existence of Colchic culture from XV-XIII centuries BC. On the hills on the right bank of the river Rioni is preserved the trace of the settlement of the VIII-VII century BC.

In the 6th century, Kutaisi was the capital city of Egrisi. By the end of the VIII century, it was already the capital of the United Kingdom of Egrisi and Abkhazia. The importance of the city in the X century is increasing. Here in 978 was the throne of the United Kingdom of Georgia. King was the Bagrat III. He set up the beautiful Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi as a symbol of the unity of the country. Kutaisi remained the capital of United Georgia for 124 years.

In 1089 begins the reign of King David the Builder. In 1122, he liberated Tbilisi from foreign invaders, and the royal throne was moved there.

From this time Kutaisi is no longer a capital of Georgia. During the time of David the builder a unique architectural monument Gelati Cathedral was founded near the city and was established a high school academy. Despite the fact of the concession to the country’s capital city, Kutaisi has never lost its place in the history of Georgia. Kutaisi is the 5th oldest city in the world.

 

Motsameta Monastery is located in the village of Motsameta in the Tskaltsitela Gorge, 6 km east of Kutaisi, in the Imereti region of Georgia.

It is a small and very beautiful monastery with round turrets crowned with peaked tent-shaped domes. The monastery is standing above the rough Rioni River and is buried in coastal vegetation. According to the legend the monastery was constructed on the place where Muslim aggressors executed David and Konstantin Mkheidze, Georgian princes, who refused to accept Islam.

In a small monastery hall on an eminence there is a big rectangular ark with the hollows of the pious princes canonized by Georgian Church.

Motsameta attracts crowds of tourists with an ancient superstition: if one crawls three times under the ark and makes a wish while touching the hollows, the princes David and Konstantin will grant it.

The King Bagrat III reconstructed the church in the 10th century. The building was reconstructed again in the 19th century.

 

BAGRATI CATHEDRAL

The Cathedral of the Dormition, or the Kutaisi Cathedral, more commonly known as Bagrati Cathedral is the 11th century cathedral church in the city of Kutaisi, the region of Imereti, Georgia. The cathedral is regarded as a masterpiece in the history of medieval Georgian architecture. The conservation and restoration works, as well as archaeological studies, which began in 1952, are still underway. In 1994, the Bagrati Cathedral, together with the Gelati Monastery, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as a single entity. In 2001, the cathedral was restored to the Georgian Orthodox Church. Bagrati attracts many pilgrims and tourists.

The Cathedral of King Bagrat in Kutaisi ranks among the best monuments of Georgian architecture. The constructions began in the last quarter of the 10th century and ended in 1003, during the time of flourishing feudal economy and culture in Georgia. The acropolis rose on a hill above the right bank of the Rioni River.

From the 10th to the 13th century, Kutaisi was a prosperous city. The town, located 236km (146 miles) west of Tbilisi serves as the capital of Imereti and the second largest city in Georgia, lying on both sides of the Rioni River. According to some scholars during the late Bronze Age (1300 BC) Kutaisi was the capital of King Aeetes, Medea’s father who possessed the Golden Fleece.

The first king of a unified Georgia, Bagrat III (975-1014) commissioned the cathedral which stood intact for seven hundred years. Even in its present ruined state, you cannot but feel the grandeur and nobility of the structure and sense of power and wonder.

The Cathedral of Bagrat is a triconch with protruding sidearms to form the cross. Several years after the completion of the cathedral, a three-story residential tower was added to the left side of the west façade which probably served as the king’s quarters or as the residence of the local archbishop. After the completion of the cathedral a richly ornamented portico with open arches was added to the southwest sides. Two decades later, this concept was repeated in front of the entryways on the west and south sides. These later embellishments were marked by elaborate, deeply incised stone carvings. Mythical animals, human faces, and sometimes human faces on animal bodies predominate here, usually intertwined with rich leaf motifs.

Russian ambassadors who visited the church in the middle of the 17th century reported that the interior was covered with mosaics. Remnants of the design of the floor – broad circles interspersed with inlays of black, white, and red are still visible at the eastern end of the building.

The cathedral was sacked and destroyed by the Ottoman troops in 1691. The incident caused the cupola and ceiling to collapse leaving the cathedral in its present state. Since 1951 Georgian restorers have been working on the site.

In 1994, the Bagrati Cathedral, together with the Gelati Monastery, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as a single entity. In 2001, the cathedral was restored to the Georgian Orthodox Church. It is now of limited use for worship services, but attracts many pilgrims and tourists. Being one of the main tourist attractions Bagrati Cathedral is frequently used as a symbol of the whole city of Kutaisi.

 

GELATI MONASTERY

Gelati is a monastic complex near Kutaisi, Imereti, Western Georgia. It contains the Church of the Virgin founded by the King of Georgia David the Builder in 1106, and the 13th century churches of St George and St Nicholas.

The Gelati Monastery for a long time was one of the main cultural and intellectual centers in Georgia. It had an Academy which employed some of the most celebrated Georgian scientists, theologians and philosophers, many of whom had previously been active at various orthodox monasteries abroad or at the Mangan Academy in Constantinople. Among the scientists were such celebrated scholars as Ioane Petritsi and Arsen Ikaltoeli.

Due to the extensive work carried out by the Gelati Academy, people of the time called it ‘a new Hellas’ and ‘a second Athos’.

The Gelati Monastery has preserved a great number of murals and manuscripts dating back to the 12th – 17th centuries. The Khakhuli triptych had also been enshrined at Gelati until being stolen in 1859.

In Gelati is buried one of the greatest Georgian kings, David the Builder. Near his grave are the gates of Ganja, which were taken as trophies by King Demetrius I in 1139.

In 1994, Gelati Monastery was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

 

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Georgia, Tbilisi

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