Gelati Monastery


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Gelati Monastery

 

one of the largest medieval monasteries in Georgia (11 km from Kutaisi); an outstanding monument of Georgian architecture. The Gelati Monastery was founded by King David the Builder at the beginning of the 12th century. The basis of the monastery’s wealth was land grants and contributions from Georgian kings and private individuals. The monastery had many privileges. It was dependent only on the king, and in religious questions on the catholicos-patriarch, who resided in the Gelati Monastery from the second half of the 16th century until 1814. In the Middle Ages the monastery was a major center of Georgian enlightenment, progressive philosophical thought, and artistic culture. In the 12th century the Gelati Academy was created within the monastery. At present the Gelati Monastery is a branch of the Kutaisi Museum of History and Ethnology.

The architectural complex of the monastery consists of a cruciform, domed main cathedral (1106-25), the cruciform, domed Church of St. George, the two-storied Church of St. Nicholas, a three-tiered bell tower (all dating to the 13th century), and the academy building (12th century, with a 14th-century portico). Parts of the south entrance, which was erected over the grave of David the Builder, and a stone fence have been preserved. The mosaics of the main church, which portray the Virgin Mary with the child and archangels (1125-30), are outstanding examples of medieval art. In the churches of the monastery, paintings from the 12th to the 18th century have remained intact, including portraits of historical figures. Icons from the Gelati Monastery are in the Art Museum of the Georgian SSR in Tbilisi. Manuscripts, church plates, and ancient clothing are primarily in the Kutaisi Museum of History and Ethnology and at the Institute of Manuscripts of the Academy of Sciences of the Georgian SSR in Tbilisi.

REFERENCES

Lominadze, B. R. Gelati (guidebook). Kutaisi, 1958.
Mepisashvili, R. Gelati. Tbilisi, 1965.
Mepisashvili, R. Arkhitekturnyi ansambl’ Gelati. Tbilisi, 1966.
Mep’isashvili, R. Gelat’i. Tbilisi, 1965.
Mep’isashvili, R. Gelat’is ark’itek’turuli ansambli. Tbilisi, 1966.
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Four sites were declared "in danger": Georgia's Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, Madagascar's Atsinanana rainforest, Uganda's tombs of Buganda kings and the Everglades National Park in the United States.
The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to add Georgia's Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery to the List of World Heritage in Danger.
An early morning sighting -in one of the best spots on the planet, the Great Caucasus Mountains - is followed by visits to the UNESCO World Heritage sites at Kutaisi, the 12th century Gelati Monastery and Academy, and the ruins of Bagrati Cathedral.