The Gelati Monastery Complex - Imereti

The Gelati Monastery Complex - Imereti

One of the greatest spiritual and cultural centers of the Middle Age Georgia praised as “New Athens” and “Second Jerusalem” was founded by King David IV Agmashenebeli (David the Builder) in 1106, but the decoration works were carried out during the reign of David’s heir it was fully completed by 1125-1130.

Its establishment was initiated and greatly supported by the King David the Builder who summoned all celebrated and outstanding Georgian scholars,scientists, philosophers and theologians from different parts of the countries and from abroad – Ioane Petritsi and Arsen Ikhaltoeli among them. The chief abbot-preceptor called “modzgvart-modzgvari” was the head of the establishment. The Academy Syllabus envisaged study of “Trivium ” and “Quadeium” - geometry, mathematics and music and of philosophy, rhetoric, grammar and astronomy. The fists two disciplines of the latter block comprised three types of Philosophy – practical, visual and verbal and there types of rhetoric – emphatic, arguing and solemn;Since XVI century Gelati has become an Episcopal Cathedral.

The central building of the monastery is the church of the Virgin. The interior of the church is adorned with paintings of different periods. The central apse is decorated with a mosaic dated to 1125-1130 depicting the Virgin with the Child and archangels. In the Western narthex there are mural paintings of XII century representing seven ecumenical councils. Most of the murals in the church belong to the second half of XVI century.

Other architectural monuments of Gelati monastic ensemble date to XII and XIV centuries. These are: the academy, the church of St. George decorated with the interior mural paintings of XVI century, the two floored church of St. Nicholas and the bell tower, one of the oldest in Georgia.

Gelati Monastery was a burial vault of the Georgian royal dynasty of the Bagrations. The king David the Builder himself (1184-1225) is buried in the Southern gate of the monastery.

A steel gate of Gandza is still preserved at David the Builder’s has Arabic inscription including the date(1063) when it was made, the name of the master, and the person who ordered it. The fragments confirm the fact that the gate was brought from Gandza, as atrophy after taking the city by the king Dememtre III.Thus the complex is very significant architectural monument, preserving a lot of precious materials about culture, art science of 12th c. when Georgian political-economic life was on the rise.

Nowadays, the Gelati Monastery Complex is preserved by the government as an architectural monument of unique importance and is under the patronage of UNESCO.


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