I do not know the total number of churches in Tbilisi but I saw quite a few.Apart from the popular ones there are some charming old churches near the old part of the city . I used to get up early and take different routes invariably ending up in a church .It was surprising that not many people attend the daily service .I was hoping to see a church wedding but no luck there.Maybe this is not the wedding season !
Though they may look similar in structure each one gives different vibes.
In Tbilisi many monuments and churches are lit up at night and this offers a glorious sight.From the window I could spot this mammoth structure bathed in golden light and it can be seen from most parts of Tbilisi.This is the Tsminda Sameba Cathedral-main cathedral of the Georgian Church and third tallest orthodox church in the world (first two are in Russia) measuring 98 metres.Also the most recent addition to this land of churches .It was consecrated in 2004.
There are nine chapels within the cathedral.I felt like a lilliput seeing the towering structure.Once inside it was again calming and serene.I get this feeling whenever I am in a church .Quite a contrast from the noisy temples especially the popular ones.I would rather go to a small temple than spend hours among millions jostling to get inside and get pushed out in no time.
There is a nice garden around the cathedral.
That night I was again at the window taking in the golden glow.It looked as if the dome was on fire.
This is one place I want to come back .
From the 6th century Jvari monastery we made our way to the 11th century Svetitiskhoveli Cathedral-very difficult to pronounce and meaning Life giving pillar.Our airbnb host Teolina and her friends George and Irakli accompanied us.This is the second largest church in Georgia and is a symbolic copy of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem .This is also supposed to be the place where Christ’s mantle is kept .My knowledge of christanity is very limited and I wish I had done some research.
There is a narrow street leading to the site dotted with souvenir shops,fancy restaurants, vegetable vendors and pretty houses.
There is a fort surrounding the church.
Though it was a sunday the church was not crowded.It has impressive frescoes,tombs and icons.The cathedral was the site of coronation of the Georgian kings and also was their burial site.Only three tombs have been found so far.I could see a few ladies praying in front of the altar .I did not see pews in any of the churches in Georgia.The serene and silent atmosphere was overpowering.
Teolina took me aside saying that she has something interesting to show and she asked me to look up at the external wall.After much squinting I could see a hand with a chisel and that is supposed to symbolise the unfortunate architect Arsukidze .The story goes like this-a priest who was the teacher and patron of the architect was so jealous of his success that he influnced the King to have his right arm chopped off.
Yet another folklore like Taj Mahal architects?