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Kvetera Church

Date of Submission: 24/10/2007
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport of Georgia
State, Province or Region:
Kakheti Region, Telavi District
Coordinates: N 42 2 E 45 6
Ref.: 5227

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The Church in Kvetera is erected on the top of a hill within the structure of the 10th century Kvetera Fortress. The Church of Kvetera Fortress is a very interesting composition, light, refined and exquisite. It is a tetraconch in plan (four-apse cross with four niches between apses) and is built of carefully hewn local tuffa stone shirimi. The central square of the church, crowned with the dome is intersected crosswise once on the naves of the cross and then bias by its three-quarter niches. We have in result as though a star with rays of different length. There are the chancel-bays in front of each apse. On the corners of each nave, there are three semi-columns. The imposts of arches have the profile, which is repeated in imposts of all under-cupola and apse arches as well as in the basis of the semi-spheres of corner spaces. All arches are round. The transition from the square to the under-cupola circle is created by the system of arches, placed at different levels. The dome is round inside with one window on the East and West and two windows on the North and South. There are also the windows in all apses and corner niches. In the chancel apse, there are three windows. The entrances to the church are in southern and western apses. The altar from the hewn stone is preserved in the chancel. From the outside, the apse ledges are pentahedral. All facets are adorned by arches. The three-quarter corner niches are round from outside. Beyond corner niches, there are four corners of the basis of under-cupola square. The drum of the dome is divided to 12 arches. The church is roofed with glazed blue tiles.

As a certain squad in the history of architecture, Kvetera Church is interesting due to its composition conception. Kvetera Church has been forethought and configured by its architect as a graceful, miniature and decorative building. Within the framework of capacities of the 10th century Kachetian architecture, without using ornamental carving, architect created fascinating monument. Kvetera Church is a small elegant building, which reproduces, with innovative and creative modernisation, the earlier achievements of the ecclesiastic architecture in Georgia.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The authenticity of monument is completely preserved in architectural forms, materials, location and other necessary attributes. The physical condition of building can be characterised as good. Conservation works have been regularly conducted on the Kvetera Church during past decades.

Comparison with other similar properties

Kvetera Church can be compared with the similar monuments in other parts of Georgia (Jvari Church in Mtskheta and domed church in Old Shuamta Monastery) and in Armenia (Akhtamar Cathedral and Varag-Vank).

Kvetera is a derivative from Jvari Church in Mtskheta. Meantime, Jvari Church is a development of simple tetraconch type, rather than of under-cupola square with bearing niches on its axes, which is the case of Kvetera.

Akhtamar Cathedral is a sequel of Mtskheta's Jvari as well. Its corner polyhedral ledges, especially its protruding eastern and western naves impart to Akhtamar the fortress-like air. Therefore, there is no any resemblance with the star-shaped figure of Kvetera. There is even less specific in Varag-Vank, which is inscribed in the external rectangle. Both Armenian Churches have in their base, but with certain modifications, the common plane with Kvetera Church. At the same time, the appearance of Akhtamar Cathedral and of Varag-Vank meets the ordinary medieval template, whereas the architect of Kvetera Church speeds to underline and fully reveal the character of its own design.

It is evident, that the direct ancestor of Kvetera Church is the domed church in Old Shuamta Monastery. The architect of Kvetera Church has analysed and modified the plane of Old Shuamta domed church and modified it to the small decorative building: it was an integrated refinement of ancient motive within the norms of his epoch.