Ancient fortress survives modern wedding

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

After visiting the Mother of Georgia statue, Susanna and I walked along the top of the hill to Narikala fortress, from where we had a beautiful view of Tbilisi. Persians built the fortress in the 4th century, about the same time that Tbilisi was established. In the 8th century, Arab emirs built the present foundations of the towers and most of the present walls. Their palace was inside the fortress. For the next 400 years, Tbilisi’s walls went down to the river, and the fortress’s rulers had complete control of trade routes that ran along the Kura river.

In the 13th century St. Nicholas Church was constructed within Kala castle. Later, a Russian garrison was deployed at the castle. No more services were conducted in the church and it became a gunpowder magazine. In 1827 a huge explosion of the Russian munitions ruined not only the fortress but also the Church of St. Nicholas and other buildings. According to one version, the fire was started by a thunderbolt and the people perceived this as a sign from on high. The church was rebuilt on the same site as the previous one in 1996-1997, as an exact copy of the previous church.

We were almost the only visitors at the site. Suddenly, we heard the loud whine of a car engine revving at 8,000 rpm and we saw a huge cloud of smoke as the driver burned rubber up the steep cobblestone street on the way toward the Church of St. Nicholas. Then we heard another car honking. The church in the ancient fortress was about to host a modern wedding.

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2011




About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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