A Georgian manuscript that was recently discovered at Mount Sinai (with the lives of the Syrian fathers, 10th C) provides evidence that the first church in Samtavisi was founded by the Syrian missionary Isidore in the 6th century. The present Samtavisi cathedral was built in 1030 by Ilarion, the son of Vache Kanchaeli, the bishop of Samtavisi. The church has been extensively damaged over the centuries. Its original face is mostly preserved on the church’s Eastern façade. The southern and northern facades were heavily restored in the 15th and 19th centuries. Samtavisi is notable for its harmonic architectural proportions and the refined decoration on the facades. It has some features that further inspired the development of Georgian Architecture. First of all, the plan of the church – the substitution of the four free-standing pillars with the apse projections on the East provides the compact and square-like space of the church – is a construction that was still prominent even during the late middle ages in Georgia. The decoration of the Eastern facade became a kind of “standard” for the adornment of Eastern facades on Georgian churches. The 5 blind arch system is still evident, and enriched with a huge ornamented cross above the central window and two ornamented squares below it. Samtavisi is situated some 45 km from Tbilisi, not far from the village of Igoeti, on the left bank of the Lekhura River.

View from the Northeast (Photo: Dror Maayan)

Floral Ornament on the Eastern Façade (Photo: Dror Maayan)

Relief of a Griffon on the Eastern Façade (Photo: Dror Maayan)

Ornamented Pilasters (detail), Southern Façade (Photo: Dror Maayan)

Two Ornamented Rhombs with Sphere Pendants, Eastern Façade (Photo: Dror Maayan)

Ornamented Rosette, Southern Façade (Photo: Dror Maayan)

© KHI in Florence | 15.05.2021 09:58:31