The Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi

On-going restoration of the 11th Century Bagrati Cathedral. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

Regarded as a masterpiece in the history of medieval Georgian architecture; the Bagrati Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of Dormition or the Kutaisi Cathedral) is frequently used as the symbol of the city of Kutaisi in the Imereti Region of Georgia.  It was built during the reign of King Bagrat III (hence the name) in the 11th century but was severely devastated in 1692 during the Ottoman invasion. Restoration works began in 1952 and, as can be seen in these photos taken in April 2011, has not been completed until now.

11th Century Bagrati Cathedral. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

The spacious ground of Bagrati Cathedral. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

The Bagrati Cathedral sits on a hill just above Kutaisi and offers a magnificent view of the city. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1994 and returned to the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2001.  While the church is still currently in ruins, it still attracts many pilgrims and tourists.  It’s ruins, spacious grounds and panoramic view makes it a favorite place for people to spend a leisurely time with their families and friends on weekends and holidays.   It was the last of the three churches we visited when we toured Kutaisi in April 2011 so, having a few minutes to spare, we joined the local tourists in enjoying the sun and a gentle breeze on the church’s historic grounds for an hour before we finally headed back to Tbilisi.

A local girl poses among the ruins. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

The city of Kutaisi as can be seen from the ruins of Bagrati. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

Aside from a huge metal cross, an old well dominates the grounds of Bagrati Cathedral. The city of Kutaisi can be seen in the background. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

Two functional but also symbolic structures dominate the grounds of Bagrati Cathedral; a huge metal cross and an antique well — the first symbolizing the dominant role of Christianity and religion in Georgian life and the second an infinite source of faith and hope flowing from the churches to the people of this beautiful country.  These, to me, were beautifully portrayed in Kutaisi through the Bagrati Cathedral.

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