Alaverdi Cathedral

Date of Submission: 24/10/2007
Criteria: (iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport of Georgia
State, Province or Region:
 Akhmeta District, Kakheti Region
Coordinates: N42 02 E45 22
Ref.: 5221
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Alaverdi St. George Cathedral (first half of the 11th century) is located 18 km from the town of Telavi in the Alazani-River valley. Earliest structures of Alaverdi Monastery date back to 6th century. The present day Cathedral is part of an 11th century Georgian Orthodox monastery. The Monastery was founded by the monk Joseph [Abba] Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, then a small village and the former pagan religious centre dedicated to Moon. At the beginning of 11th century, Kakhetian King Kvirike the Great built a cathedral in the place of a small church of St. George.

Alaverdi is the highest cathedral in Georgia (up to 50 meters). It dominates the surrounding landscape in a fertile river valley against the backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains. It is a cross with three apses inscribed in a rectangle. In the western part of the building, there are galleries on the second tier of the side naves. The interior of the cathedral is extremely imposing. Outside the Cathedral is devoid of embellishments, and the facades have monumental blind arcades and niches for decoration, which give the entire structure an air of monumentality and solemnity. The walls are of fieldstone faced with hewn slabs of shirimi water tuff, now badly weathered.  An area enclosed by a fortified wall contains dwelling houses, the refectory of the monastery, wine cellars, baths, and other structures.

The characteristic features of the Kakhetian architecture with its upward aspiring tendency were reflected in Alaverdi. The decor is totally neglected. An impressive space of the interior of this church has no analogy in Georgia.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Alaverdi Cathedral was in use since construction began and has been a subject of several modifications: restoration (part of the walls and the entire dome with the drum) in 15th and in 18th centuries; in the 19th century, the church lost its chapels on the north and south sides. However, its overall authenticity and integrity is preserved.

Comparison with other similar properties

Medieval Georgian Architecture is strictly distinctive cultural phenomenon. In the view of State Party, it is therefore unreasonable to apply comparative regional analysis to this monument.