Alaverdi Monastery

Alaverdi Monastery; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

There are so many old churches and monasteries in Georgia. In Kakheti, the region in the eastern part of the country, there are 14 sites that date back to the 11th century or older. Many other historic sites can be visited in Georgia’s other nine regions. But for several reasons, when we visited Alaverdi Monastery with employees from The Financial newspaper, my imagination of the past became particularly active. Seeing ancient buildings can do that. With some quick research, I learned that Kakhetian King Kvirike the Great built the cathedral at the beginning of the 11th century on the site of a smaller church that had been named after St. George. When people used the St. George church, back in the 6th century, Alaverdi was a small village and pagan religious center dedicated to the Moon.

The large wall surrounding the complex also stimulated my imagination. I guessed that the monastery had been attacked, but I  learned that the attackers had been Persians. Then I was surprised to learn that Persians rebuilt the cathedral in the 17th century. The complex was also restored in the 15th century after battles and in the 18th century after a strong earthquake destroyed the dome. Today it is again being restored, so we couldn’t see where the monks lived. Based upon some photographs near the entrance to the complex, however, I can tell that when the restoration is complete, visitors will be able to see several rooms filled with significant ecclesiastic artifacts and books.

The cathedral’s height is impressive–it is the second tallest religious building in Georgia (after Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi).



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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