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Alaverdi Cathedral


   The Alaverdi Eparchy was the principal and one of the most extensive christian floks of Kakheti. In addition to the central regions of Kakheti, there were also Tusheti, Pshaveli and Khevsureti. 
The Alaverdi Cathedral is located on the Alazani Valley, near the village Alaverdi (Akhmeta region), 20 km from Telavi. There, in the middle of the 6-th century was founded a monastery, by on of the thirteen Sirian fathers Joseph, who is buried here. 
    In Kakhetian principality (the 8-th -10-th centuries) Alaverdi was the main church and place of worship. Presumably, the Alaverdi monastery was turned into the Episcopalian Cathedral in the first quater of the 11-th century, when the King of Heret-Kakheti Kvirike III (1009-1037) in the Place of small church os St.George erected a big Cathedral. The founding of the Episcopates in Georgia was initeated usually by the building of Cathedrals. For the first time the Bishop of Alaverdi is mentioned in the sources at the time of David the Builder. From the 13-th century on, they are honoured as the Archbishops. In the period of political disintegration of Georgia (the 15-th - 18-th centureis) the Bishop of Alaverdi - Amba of Alaverdi, who was granted the honour of Metropolitan, was in fact the head of the church in the Kingdom of Kakheti. The title "Amba" was given to the Bishops of Alavedi, because they were heads of a monastery as well. The existing documents show the special position occupied by the Bishops of Alavedi and the respect with which Kings of Kakheti treated them. 
    From the beginning the monastery was founded in the Alavedi, where the monks lived and worked. in the 17-th - 18-th centuries it was turned into the nunnery. There aslo lived the members of the Royal family, who had taken the monastic vows. 
   The Alavedi Cathedral was damaged over and over by the attacks of enemies and earthquakes. In the 15-th century, it was restored and repaired by the King of Kakheti Alexander I (1476-1511), his mother -Queen Nestan-Darejani and his wife -Queen Anna. King of Kakheti Leon (1520-1574) restored the dome, destroyed by the eathquake in 1530. 
In 1614 Alaverdi was desroyed by the Shah of Iran, Abas I. King of Kakheti, Teimuraz I (1606-1648) hid te icons of Kakheti in the temple of Svetitzkhoveli, and fled to Imereti. His grandson, Erekle I remarks in his deed, that he brought back the icons and handed them to the Bishop of Alaverdi. 
    In the 17-th century Trukman tribes invaded Kakheti. They occupied fertile agricultural lands, and among them - Alaverdi estate. the Church was turned into a cowshed and their prison. In 1606 the Georgians rose against them, did away with invadors, and cleared Kakheti from ailien Turkmans. At the boudary fo the 17-th and the 18-th centureis Alaverdi was desroyed by lezgins. 
    In 1668 the Church, damaged by the eathqeake was repaired by King Archil. The eathquake in 1742 ruined the dome, the restoration of which was stared by the wife of Kakhetian King Teimuraz II - Queen Tamar and completed by his son Erekle II. Despite several restorations, the Church retained its original forms. It is a strict, harmoniously built monument of grand spaces and integral composition. Its construction is a triconque, crsoslike building with a central dome. It is built with a cobble-stone and revetted by yellowish quadras. Formarly the roof was covered with blue glazed tiling. After the cleaning of the walls inside the Cathedral several layers of murals of the 11-th, the 15-th and the 17-th centuries were discovered. 
    Alaverdi, as the pricnipal Church of Kakheti, was the burial-place of the King of Kakheti. The Kakhetian King and members of Royal families are bured here: Alexander I (1476-1511), Alexander II (1574-1605), Teimuraz I (1606-1648), the son of Teimuraz I - David, the son of Alexander II - George, the daugher of Erekle I - Ketevan, his mother - Elene, his wife -Queen Ana, the wife of Erekle II - Queen Ketevan. Under the communion table of the Alaverdi Church the holy relics of St. Martyr, the Queen of Kakheti of Kakheti are buried. 
    The Alaverdi Church possessed numerous sefs and estates. At first Kings of Georgia, and then Kings of Kakheti, showed greet concern for this principal Church and monastery of Kakheti. They granted it estates and serfs and other property. 
The Alaverdi Cathedral was one of the powerfull cultural -educational centers. Presumably, there were many weiters, scribes of manuascripts and bookbinders. Among them were: Phillip of Alaverdi (16-th - 17-th centuries), Archbishop Zebede (the 17-th century), Nikiphor Irbakh (Nicolas Cholokashvili, the 17-th century), Mariam - Makrine Bagrationi (the 18-th century), John Laradze (the 18-th century) and others. 
The Monastery of Alaverdi there was quite a large Library, where manuscripts copied there, whre manuscripts copied there, or elsewhere were kept.

       

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