Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
or Holy Trinity Cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
|Affiliation||Georgian Orthodox Church|
|Ecclesiastical or organizational status||Patriarchal cathedral|
|Leadership||Ilia II of Georgia|
|Architectural style||Georgian cross-dome|
The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi (Georgian: თბილისის წმინდა სამების საკათედრო ტაძარი Tbilisis cminda samebis sakatedro tadzari) commonly known as Sameba (Georgian: სამების ლავრა 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 one of the largest religious buildings in the world by total area. Sameba is a synthesis of traditional styles dominating the Georgian church architecture at various stages in history and has some Byzantine undertones.
History and construction
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 proclaimed 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.
At least part of the site chosen for the new cathedral complex included land within what had once been an old Armenian cemetery called Khojavank. The cemetery once had an Armenian church 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 turned into a recreational park. However, the cemetery still contained many of its graves when construction of the Sameba Cathedral commenced. The cemetery was treated with a "scandalous lack of respect" according to one author, after bones and gravestones appeared scattered all over the construction site.
Designed in a traditional Georgian style but with a greater vertical emphasis, and "regarded as an eyesore by many people, it is equally venerated by as many others". The Cathedral has a cruciform plan with a dome over a crossing resting 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 meter tall gilded gold cross.
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.
- Kalatozishvili, Georgy (30 July 2014). "Relations between Georgian and Armenian churches". Vestnik Kavkaza.
the construction of the St. Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi in 1989.The patriarchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) decided to build a huge temple on a hill near an Armenian cemetery. The territory of the church, Armenian officials say, will take part of the territory of the cemetery.
- Goble, Paul (8 August 2014). "Tensions Between Georgian and Armenian Churches Escalate". Eurasia Daily Monitor. Jamestown Foundation. 11 (146).
The construction of the Georgian cathedral became a problem for the Armenians because its site was either next to or, according to Armenians, occupied part of what has long been the Armenian cemetery there.
- "Цминда Самеба – современное видение грузинского христианства". btimes.ru (in Russian). Business Times.
Храм был построен на месте старинного армянского кладбища Ходживанк, что вызвало волну возмущения, как от местных жителей, так и от армян, которые были недовольны непочтительным отношением к останкам захороненных людей.
- Burford, Tim (2015). Georgia. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 128. ISBN 9781841625560.
It was built on the Armenian Khojavank cemetery which was treated with a scandalous lack of respect.
- Noble, John; Kohn, Michael; Systermans, Danielle (2008). Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan. Lonely Planet. p. 57. ISBN 9781741044775.
Some controversy surrounded its construction on the site of an old Armenian cemetery.
- Hakobyan, Julia (28 September 2007). "Havlabar: Armenian community in Tbilisi pays the price of urbanization". ArmeniaNow.
Three years ago the largest Georgian Orthodox Church Holy Trinity was constructed in Havlabar and now next to the church is being constructed a seminary in the area which used to be the oldest Armenian cemetery “Khojivank.” Arnold Stepanyan, the head of the “Tbilisi Community of Georgian Armenians” non governmental organization in Tbilisi says as the cemetery was considered by the Georgian authorities to be old no reburial was organized and a great number of skeletons appeared during digging the foundation ditch.
- Hovyan, Vahram (10 December 2007). "Հակահայկական քաղաքականության դրսեվորումները Վրաստանում [Anti-Armenian policies in Georgia]" (in Armenian). Noravank Foundation.
Այս միտումը մեր ժամանակներում իր գործնական դրսևորումն արդեն գտել է ի դեմս այն փաստի, որ վրացական իշխանությունները Հավլաբարի Խոջիվանք եկեղեցուն հարակից հայկական գերեզմանատան տարածքում երեք տարի առաջ ավարտեցին Սուրբ Երրորդություն վրացական ուղղափառ տաճարի շինարարությունը
- Dikranian, Raffy (14 September 2007). "Desecration of Armenian Cemetery in Avlabar District, Tbilisi, Georgia ContinuesDesecration of Armenian Cemetery in Avlabar District, Tbilisi, Georgia Continues". Armenian News Network / Groong. University of Southern California.
- Ghazinyan, Aris (1 November 2008). "The 'Armenian Problem': Hayastantsi in Georgia face challenges over ethnicity". Armenian General Benevolent Union.
A few years ago, a Georgian cathedral was constructed at Khojivank Hill in Tbilisi. Located just behind Avlabar Square, Khojivank Hill is a magnet. Besides its landmark prominence, it is the location of the pantheon of outstanding figures of Armenian culture represented by a constellation of names of classics of national literature of the 19th century. Originally, Khojivank was an Armenian cemetery where, along with renowned literary figures, their ordinary contemporaries were also buried. The new residence of the Patriarch of All Georgia, erected in 2004, is built over those graves. By now, loads of human ashes have been transferred to the city dump as common construction garbage. According to eyewitnesses, human bones were among debris hauled away in dump trucks and gravestones were scattered and left lying wherever they fell.
- Tim Buford, "Georgia - 2015 edition, Bradt Travel Guides", p128.
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