SAMTAVISI

Samtavisi

Samtavisi (Region of Kartli)

Samtavisi is an eleventh-century Georgian Orthodox cathedral in eastern Georgia, in the region of Shida Kartli, some 45km from the nation’s capital Tbilisi.  The cathedral is located on the left bank of the Lekhura River, some 11km of the town of Kaspi. According to a Georgian tradition, the first monastery on this place was founded by the Assyrian missionary Isidore in 572 and later rebuilt in the 10th century. Neither of these buildings has survived however. The earliest extant structures date to the eleventh century, the main edifice being built in 1030 as revealed by a now lost stone inscription (An inscription on the east facade, documented in the 19th century but missing today dated the construction of the church to 1030 and named the founder as Bishop Illarion of Samtavisi. He is also thought to have been the architect).

The church originally had ambulatories in the north, south, and west, but these were removed. The west facade was restored in the 15th century after the cupola drum collapsed upon it as a result of the destruction of Tamerlane’s invasion. The restoration of the cupola drum dates from the 15th century as well. The defensive walls were restored in the 15th and 17th centuries. The church also shows some signs of 19th-century refurbishing. The masterly decorated eastern facade is the only survived original structure

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