BODBE/Sighnaghi/GREMI

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    BODBE

    St. George monastic and Episcopal complex, situated in Bodbe (Kakheti) is the national Georgian relic. In St. George cathedral are kept the remains of Nino of Kappadokia, Equal-to-the-Apostles, the great Baptist of Georgia, the harbinger of Christianity.

    According to the legend, St.Nino, 60, died in Bodbe in 335. She crossed the entire country healing and preaching people the true God. St. Nino bequeathed to bury her in this land. Later when tsar Mirian wanted to move her body to Mtskheta, all efforts to shift the ark with Nino’s hallows from its place were in vain. Originally, a little temple in honor of great martyr St. George was built on the burial place. But this temple did not survive. In 850 instead of the old temple the new Cathedral, the main building of the complex, was erected. It is a classic temple in the best traditions of Georgian architecture. The interior is decorated by the 9th-century paintings and fragments of the 12th – 17th-century pictures.

    The cult complex in Bodbe was repeatedly repaired and restored. In the 16th – 17th centuries Bodbe was the important educational centre. In 1837 the monastery was abolished. And in 1889 the convent of St. Nino Equal-to-the-Apostles was opened and is active until now.

    SIGHNAGHI

    Sighnaghi is a small town in the east of Georgia situated on the mountainside in the historical region of Kakheti. It was founded in the 17th century during the reign of King Heraclius II of Georgia, and as locals say, it is the only city in Georgia that has fully preserved the fortress walls that are crowned with watchtowers, where one can climb to get the magnificent view of the Alazan valley.

    New pages in the history book of the small town have been written in the last decades with the beginning of the capital reconstruction. The aim is to transform Sighnaghi into the centre of tourism. By 2007 Sighnaghi has turned into a European town with narrow cobbled streets, that are winding and steep, and districts full of one or two storey houses with bright red tiled roof in the style of South Italian classicism.

    The town has two central squares with casinos, banks, mayor’s office and a wedding house where one marry anytime of the day. Thus, Sighnaghi is called the city of lovers. You will find many cosy places, hotels and hostels to your taste, street cafes and restaurants, where you can try the home-made Kakhetian wines: saperavi, kindzmarauli, rkaciteli, mtsvane… There goes a long list.

    There are three medieval churches and all of them are at restoration works. But only 2km away from Sighnaghi, there is a famous for tourists and pilgrims a Bodbe monastery, where the remains of the St. Nino are enshrined (4th century).

    GREMI

    Gremi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti in the 16th and 17th centuries. Founded by Levan of Kakheti, it functioned as a lively trading town on the Silk Road and royal residence until being razed to the ground by the armies of Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1615. The town never regained its past prosperity and the kings of Kakheti transferred their capital to Telavi in the mid-17th century.

    City of Gremi, capital of vanished Kakhetian Kingdom of Georgia, located on the Gilian-Shemakha branch of the Great Silk Road, was destroyed by the army of Shah Abbas in 16th c. and never been restored since then. The ruins of Gremi city are now important Late Medieval archaeological site with ruins of churches, trading arcades, baths and dwellings. Gremi attracts visitors with the well-preserved architectural complex: Church of Archangels Michael and Gabriel and the Royal Tower.

    The town appears to have occupied the area of approximately 40 hectares and to have been composed of three principal parts – the Archangels’ Church complex, the royal residence and the commercial neighborhood. Systematic archaeological studies of the area guided by A. Mamulashvili and P. Zak’araia were carried out in 1939-1949 and 1963-1967, respectively.

    The Gremi Church was built and painted upon the order of King Leon in 1565. Peculiar relation of proportions to separate volumes of Gremi Church attaches new features to traditional structure of Georgian cross-cupola churches. The main cross of the building is very high and narrow. The arches are arrowed and have not capitals or tractions. The dome is supported on two free-standing piers and the extensions of the apse. The fabric is of the so-called Georgian brick. The façades are samples of developed brick church decorative system characteristic to late feudal epoch in Georgia. The forms of décor are achieved through deepening of planes and turquoise fittings. The wall painting of construction period is preserved inside the Church. The Gremi Church has become a prototype for a whole group of other church buildings in Georgia.

    A three-store tower is erected beside the Church of Archangels. The two bottom floors are built earlier than the Church itself. There is a big, wide and high room on the ground floor. Along the back wall of the room, there is a corridor, which leads to the first and second floors. There is a belfry on the top of the tower.

    The aspiration and rush for height of the Kakhetian architecture is shown in Gremi with force incomparable hitherto. Elegance of silhouette of a Church and a Tower is an attractive architectural dominant in vast space. Through its location and interrelation with the surrounding landscape, the Gremi Church acquires outstanding artistic importance and remarkable force.

    TOUR OPTIONS

    BUS — CAPACITY OF 1/55 PERSON + GUIDE
    MINI BUS — CAPACITY OF 1/18 PERSON + GUIDE
    MINIVAN – CAPACITY OF 1/6 PERSON + GUIDE