KATSKHI

katskhi

Katskhi pillar  (Region of Imereti)

The Katskhi pillar is a natural limestone monolith located at the village of Katskhi in western Georgian region of Imereti, near the town of Chiatura. It is approximately 40 metres (130 ft) high, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura, a right affluent of the Q’virila. The Katskhi pillar complex currently consists of a church dedicated to Maximus the Confessor, a crypt , three hermit cells, a wine cellar, and a curtain wall on the uneven top surface of the column. At the base of the pillar are the newly built church of Simeon Stylites and ruins of an old wall and belfry.

The church of St. Maximus the Confessor is located at the south-easternmost corner of the top surface of the Katskhi pillar. A small simple hall church design with the dimensions of 4.5 × 3.5 m., it is a modern restoration of the ruined medieval church built of stone. Beneath and south of the church is an elongated rectangular crypt with the dimensions of 2.0 × 1.0 m., which had served as a burial vault. Digs at the ruined wine cellar revealed eight large vessels known in Georgia as k’vevri. Also of note is a rectangular cellar grotto with the entrance and two skylights—on the vertical surface of the rock, some 10-metre (33 ft) below the top. At the very base of the pillar there is a cross in relief, exhibiting parallels with similar early medieval depictions found elsewhere in Georgia, particularly at Bolnisi.

The rock has been venerated by locals as the Pillar of Life and a symbol of the True Cross, and has become surrounded by legends. It remained unclimbed by researchers and unsurveyed until 1944 and was more systematically studied from 1999 to 2009. These studies determined the ruins were of an early medievalhermitage dating from the 9th or 10th century

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