The two principal tourist draws for Georgia are its natural wonders like the caves and mountains and its old churches. Georgia boasts being the second country to convert to Christianity (Armenia was first), today most Georgians are Orthodox, despite the efforts of their most famous son (Stalin) to turn them to atheism.
This is the second part of my post about our trip to Kutaisi on 7 June 2015 and features some of Georgia’s most important religious monuments.
Kutaisi is Georgia’s second city, to many it seems just like a large village.
Our planned itinerary for the day was :
- Prometheus Cave (click on this link to see the first part of the blogpost)
- Sataplia Cave
- Bagrati Cathdedral
- Gelati Monastery
- Motsameta Monastery
- Restaurant for a Georgian Feast (Supra)
We had to cancel our planned visit to Sataplia Cave, because the site was overbooked by school parties, who were visiting the same day as us. Prometheus Cave is bigger but lacks the famous dinosaur footprints found at Sataplia Cave. Ah well, we will have something to see next time.
Bagrati Cathedral is one of the distinct landmarks of Kutaisi, an impressive building that was officially rebuilt in 2012 after heavy damage. The original Cathedral was built in the 11th Century. UNESCO was not impressed and considered the rebuilding damaged “the integrity and authenticity of the site”.
This is an image from the Wikipedia of Bagrati Cathedral under construction in 2009.
Bagrati Cathedral under construction in 2009. (from Wikipedia contributor: “Kober”)
Inside Bagrati Cathedral
Georgian Cathedrals have a lot of interesting stone carvings on the walls.
After Bagrati we headed out of Kutaisi to Gelati Monastery. The Gelati monastic complex near Kutaisi 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. Gelati Monastery was eulogised as the “New Athens” and the “Second Jerusalem”, and was one of the most important historical and cultural centres in the Middle Ages.
Gelati monastery, church of Virgin Mary the Blessed. Mural of Christ Pantokrator on ceiling of the central dome (12th century)
We visited the church at the time a wedding was being performed, a lot of weddings were scheduled for 7 June as it is the day before the fast for St Peter and St Paul, which lasts until mid July.
Wedding in the church
One of the main attractions for me, was an old GAZ M20 Pobeda in the grounds.
GAZ M20 “Pobeda”
Maka liked the “Pobeda”, too. “Pobeda” means victory, Stalin preferred the name to “Rodina” meaning Motherland
“Pobeda” = Victory
Also there were plenty of birds to admire of the feathered kind, like these ravens.
A lot of construction work is ongoing at Gelati.
Our final sight was Little Motsameta Monastery, which sits on a spectacular clifftop promontory.
Little Motsameta Monastery sits on a spectacular clifftop promontory
The monastery sits above a bend of the Tskhaltsitela River. The name “Red River” refers to an 8th century Arab massacre.
looks like we crashed another wedding…
Brothers Davit and Konstantin Mkheidze were among the victims of the 8th Century Massacre.
At the car park I find another delightful old Soviet car, a Zaporozhets 968M.
Finally in the tradition of these trips we ended with a Supra (Georgian Feast), we convened at the Old Imereti Restaurant in Kutaisi, where my batteries died. Maybe just as well with the dancing in the minibus on the way home to Tbilisi.