Bana cathedral

Bana Monastery Complex (Region of Tao)

The monastery complex of Bana (Georg. ბანას სამონასტრო კომპლექსი, Tur. Penek Kilissi)– one of the church and state centers of Georgia, is located in the territory of the historical region of  Georgia- Tao (Georg. ტაო), in the Chorochi Valley (Georg. ჭოროხი), on the right bank Bani River (Georg. ბანი). Currently located within the borders of Turkey under the name “Fanak” (Tur. Penek). The main temple of the monastery – Cathedral of Bana, dedicated to the Life-Giving Cross, according to historical sources, was built in the IX century. However, upon stylistic analysis, scientists come to the conclusion that the temple could not be later than the VII  century, because it has the form of a tetraconch, which is no longer found after the VII century. Bana cathedral is built on a round hill and is also perceived as round, although in fact it was multifaceted. The three-storey temple consisted of a church and a round gallery. The architectural details and decoration of the temple are distinguished by technical skill and high artistry.

In addition to the main temple, the monastery complex included relatively small chapels and churches, a cave church carved into the rock and cells, and other buildings for various purposes. One of the small churches of the monastery, which is a domed tetraconch and similar to the main temple, has completely disappeared. Southeast of the Bana Cathedral, there is a cave church of the monastery complex and cells in which ascetic monks retired. A prominent monument of Georgian architecture, it was used as a royal residence by the Georgian Bagrationi dynasty until the period of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, who conquered the region in the XVI century, destroyed the monastery and turned the main temple into a fortress. After the colonization of the Tao region by the Turks, it became quite difficult to maintain Christianity in the Chorokhi Valley and the surrounding areas. The monastery complex of Bana, as a cultural and political center has lost its former importance.


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