METEKHI (Tbilisi)

METEKHI (Tbilisi)

Metekhi, one of the Tbilisi`s old districts, is situated on the left bank of the Mtkvari, in the area commonly known as Avlabari. It comprised the Isani Fortress and its adjoining territory. The toponym “Metekhi” is first mentioned in the 12th century chronicles. St. Mary`s Church, one of the most important monuments if Georgian architecture, built in the 5th-6th centuries by King Vakhtang Georgasali stands in this district.

Queen Shushanik, the martyred wife of pitiakhsh Varsken, whose life and martyrdom are described in “The Martyrdom of St. shushanik” (5th cent.), the oldest work of Georgia literature, is believed to be buried in this Church. A royal palace and a court Church stood at this place in the 12th cent. They were burnt down by the Mongols in 1235. Between 1278 and 1289 the Church was restored by King Demetre the Self-Immolator.

The Church is a central-domed building. It`s plan (four free-standing pillars, three protruding apses) is unusual for the day. The Church evidently repeats the plan of an earlier building which had stood at this place. The facades are treated in a new decorative system: the walls are divided into horizontal belts (this system did not catch on) but at the same time an old system of a large cross with two square under the wind a well-known motif since the times of Samtavisi is repeated on the protuberant altar apse. The Church has had a lot of alterations, made throught the centuries. Only the eastern and the northern walls (up to the vault level), the bottom part of the western wall, and the eastern part of the southern wall survive from the 13th cent. building. In the 16th-17th cent, the four pillars, the western gallery (chair), the vaults, and the dome drum were restored in brick. The greater part of the northern wall was restored in the 18th cent. during the reing of King Erekle II. Some parts of the building were also restored in the 19th century.


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