Vardzia, unique monument of Georgian culture
08 May, 2014
Vardzia, unique monument of Georgian culture
Time under the reign of Queen Tamar is considered the golden age of Georgia. This period marks the revival of the country. The end of XII century and the beginning XIII is thought to be the renaissance of art and literature. Around this time began Bethania, Kintvisi desert and many other temples were built. The most prominent of them was, and still is, Vardzia. Tamar’s father, King Giorgi III, began construction of this monastic cave town and his successor King
Tamar finished it. Vardzia is a brilliant creation of the Georgian people, which endured centuries and countless attacks from within. It is an example of art, culture and the geniality of our people.
It shows in which conditions our ancestors created ways to defend the nation from numerous attacks from enemies.
Vardzia can freely be called “the Honor of Georgians”. This cave town is a monument of Georgian history, culture and religion. It continues to amaze people from all over the world.
Vardzia is a rock-carved fortress stretched over 500 meters. It is located in the historic region of Samtskhe-Javakheti and consists of 600 rooms. Tamar’s favorite residence was legendary. There were 366 chambers, protecting from enemies.
The cave-town is included in the UNESCO world culture heritage list as one of the most unique rock-hewn town.
It is a town with streets, squares, 15 churches with unique wall-paintings, most of which are corrupted nowadays.
The most notable of them are the restoration of Lazarus, entering Jerusalem and others.
There were 28 wine-cellars with 235 pitches, that could hold about 100 000 liters of wine. Despite the fact that it is carved deeply into the rocks, it was not short of daylight or spring water. Springs from the neighboring mountains supplied the town with cold water.
It is a rare sight to see a church carved in the rocks, which is complimented by an icon of Tamar (only four of these icons remain today). She is holding the model of the church with next her, her father, King Georg III.
In 1551 Vardzia was vandalized and destroyed. They kidnapped the well-known icon of the mother God, golden and steel doors, and other treasures.
In 1978 the Turks conquered Vardzia. It was robbed once again. Part of the monks was slaughtered and the others were scattered across the country. In 1861 liturgies were reestablished, although the stealing never stopped and the fortress was abandoned and neglected. On the verse between the XII-XIII centuries a chapel was built decorated with different ornaments. The wide arch on the gate is the sole architectural element.
The first time I visited Vardzia I was awed. It was rich, golden and silver items, icons and crosses ornamented with precious gems. The monastery represented an important cultural centre, where great art and literature works were produced.
I believe it is a masterpiece of art and engineering. This was a time of religious wars in Europe and the Catholic and Orthodox Churches were in rage. Imagine a four meter high sophisticated rock and realize that our bare hands did that.
Time and an earthquake have had their impact on losing the former brilliance of the town, but it still leaves visitors wonderstruck with its beauty and grandeur.
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