Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi

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Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
Basic information
Location Tbilisi, Georgia
Affiliation Georgian Orthodox Church
Year consecrated 2004
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Patriarchal cathedral
Leadership Ilia II of Georgia
Architectural description
Architect(s) Archil Mindiashvili
Architectural type Church
Architectural style Georgian cross-dome
Completed 2004

The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi (Georgian: თბილისის წმინდა სამების საკათედრო ტაძარი Thbilisis cminda samebis sakathedro tadzari) commonly known as Sameba (Georgian: სამება for Trinity) is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church located in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Constructed between 1995 and 2004, it is the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world and considered to be one of the largest religious buildings in the South Caucasus along with the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan (known as the Cathedral of Yerevan). Sameba is a synthesis of traditional styles dominating the Georgian church architecture at various stages in history and has some Byzantine undertones.


Tbilisi Holy Trinity Cathedral the surrounding neighborhood of Elia

The idea to build a new cathedral to commemorate 1,500 years of autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church and 2,000 years from the birth of Jesus emerged as early as 1989, a crucial year for the national awakening of the then-Soviet republic of Georgia. In May 1989, the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate and the authorities of Tbilisi announced an international contest for the "Holy Trinity Cathedral" project. No winner was chosen at the first round of the contest when more than a hundred projects were submitted. Finally the design by architect Archil Mindiashvili won. The subsequent turbulent years of civil unrest in Georgia deferred this grandiose plan for six years, and it was not until November 23, 1995, that the foundation of the new cathedral was laid. The construction of the church was proclaimend as a "symbol of the Georgian national and spiritual revival" and was sponsored mostly by anonymous donations from several businessmen and common citizens. On November 23, 2004, on St. George's Day, the cathedral was consecrated by Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II and high-ranking representatives of fellow Orthodox Churches of the world. The ceremony was also attended by leaders of other religious and confessional communities in Georgia as well as by political leaders.

Controversy over its construction on a cemetery[edit]

The site chosen for the new cathedral complex was once a large cemetery, the oldest Armenian cemetery in Tbilisi, known as Khojavank or the Armenian Pantheon of Tbilisi (on account of the number of notable Armenians buried there).[1][2] Khojavank also once had an Armenian church, the Holy Mother of God, which was destroyed during the Soviet period by the orders of Lavrenti Beria. Most of the cemetery's gravestones and monuments were also destroyed and the cemetery was turned into a park. However, Armenian sources contend that the cemetery still contained Armenian graves when the construction of the Sameba Cathedral began.[3] The cemetery was treated with a "scandalous lack of respect".[4] No reburials were organized, and after bones and gravestones appeared scattered all over the construction site[5] protests temporarily halted[citation needed] the construction of the cathedral. However, building work soon resumed.


A panoramic view of the Holy Trinity Cathedral
Iconostasis at the Holy Trinity Cathedral

The Sameba Cathedral is erected on the Elia Hill, which rises above the left bank of the Kura River (Mtkvari) in the historic neighborhood of Avlabari in Old Tbilisi.

Designed in a traditional Georgian style but with an exaggerated vertical emphasis, and regarded as an eyesore by many and venerated by as many others,[6] the Sameba Cathedral has a cruciform plan with a dome over a crossing which rests on eight columns. At the same time, the parameters of the dome is independent from the apses, imparting a more monumental look to the dome and the church in general. The dome is surmounted by a 7.5 metre tall cross covered with gold.

The cathedral consists of nine chapels (chapels of the Archangels, John the Baptist, Saint Nino, Saint George, Saint Nicholas, the Twelve Apostles, and All Saints); five of them are situated in a large, underground compartment. The overall area of the cathedral, including its large narthex, is 5,000 square meters and the volume it occupies is 137 cubic meters. The interior of the church measures 56 metres by 44 metres, with an interior area of 2,380 square metres. The height of the cathedral from the ground to the top of the cross is 105,5 metres. The underground chapel occupies 35,550 cubic metres. The height is 13 metres.

Natural materials are used for construction. The floor is made of marble tiles and the altar will also be decorated with mosaic. The painting of the murals is being executed by a group of artists guided by Amiran Goglidze.

The Sameba complex, the construction of which is already completed, consists of the main cathedral church, a free-standing bell-tower, the residence of the Patriarch, a monastery, a clerical seminary and theological academy, several workshops, places for rest, etc.

See also[edit]


External images
360° panoramic view (virtual tour)
External images
360° panoramic view of the interior (virtual tour) [7]
  1. ^ http://www.armenianow.com/hy/features/7697/havlabar_armenian_community_in_tbi
  2. ^ http://noravank.am/arm/articles/detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=508
  3. ^ http://www.encyclopedia.am/pages.php?bId=2&hId=1406
  4. ^ Tim Buford, "Georgia - 2008 edition, Bradt Travel Guides", p120.
  5. ^ Julia Hakobian, Havlabar: Armenian community in Tbilisi pays the price of urbanization http://www.armenianow.com/features/7696/havlabar_armenian_community_in_tbi
  6. ^ Tim Buford, "Georgia - 2008 edition, Bradt Travel Guides", p120.
  7. ^ [1]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°41′51″N 44°49′0″E / 41.69750°N 44.81667°E / 41.69750; 44.81667