Zarzma (Samtskhe-Javakheti)



Zarzma (Samtskhe-Javakheti)

A monument to Georgian architecture, the Zarzma Monastery is situated in the village of the beautiful Kvabliani river vally 8 km away from Adigeni. A domed Church built of cut stone, a bell tower, and a few single-nave chapels,some of them in ruins, which has been known since old times. No other monastic building monks, cells, refectory, etc.- have survived. There is a different of views about the foundation data (8th-9th cent.) of the Monastery. The first Church was built by Serapion Zarzmeli, aClarjian cleric of early Middle Ages, whose life was described in Basil Zarzmeli`s well-known work (9th cent.). The local price, Giorgi Chorchaneli gave Serapion a solid support with an offering of few villages and estates to the new Monastery. The Church , contemporary with Serapion, a common building, built by architect Garbaneli, has its bell-tower were built in the 14th century during the times of Beka, Prince of Samtskhe, Chancellor of the mandaturds (police force) at the Georgian royal court. In the arch over the entrance to one of the chapels there is an onscription, taken from an earlier building, dating back to the 10th century, which tells of David III Kuropalates military campaign against Barda Skleros. The Zarzma Church is one of the most important monuments to the epoch as clearly demonstrates some of the new features of Georgian architecture of that day. The murals of the Zarzma Church are equally important displaying portaints of the family of the Jaqelis, the rules of Samtskhe, Sagies, Beka, Chancellor of the mandaturs, Sargis II and Quarquare; of King Bagrat III of Imereti, of Serapion Khurtidze etc, in addition to the traditional themes. The bell-tower of the Zarzma Monastery is the biggest in Georgia, and the best specimen of Georgian structures of this type. In 1577 the Khurtsidzes, new owners of Zarzma, replaced part of the old murals by new ones, and closed up yhe arches on the ground floor of the bell-tower, turning it into St. John the Divine`s Church. In the early 20th century the Zarzma Church, the bell-tower and the paintings were restored, which altered the colors and partly the stylistic features of the paintings.
The Zarzma Monastery used to be an important cultural and educational centre with scholarly and educational activity thriving within its walls, as demonstrated by “The Life and the Activity of Our Blessed Holy Father Serapion”, written by Basili Zarzmeli (10th cent.). Other scholars, Germane Zarzmeli, Benedicte Zarzmeli etc. worked at the Monastery.



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