Sites of Christian Georgia
The Republic of Georgia is among the oldest surviving Christian nations. Its conversion dates to the fifth century and the nation abounds with religious structures and ruins that date from the fifth and sixth century. Christianity arrived from the Eastern Roman Empire through Armenia, bringing with it literacy and a unique alphabet and script.
Georgian Christianity is similar to most of the other nations in the region. It is Orthodox, not aligned with the Latin Rite of Rome, and is a national church. A national church, in this context, is one that is associated with the individual nation, i.e. Greek Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Georgian Orthodox. It survived the Russian conquest and the Communist era.
Among the sites in Georgia that illustrate the long history of Christianity in that nation are the monastery and cathedral of Alaverdi and the monastery of Ikalto. Both sites are located in Eastern Georgia, near the town of Telavi.
The province of Kakheti, where these sites are located, was once an independent kingdom. Its natives speak a dialect of Georgian. Its border to the east and south is with the nation of Azerbaijan and is disputed in many areas. It is a popular tourist destination for Georgians and its international appeal is growing.
The monastery and cathedral of Alaverdi are in the village of the same name. The monastery dates to the sixth century in parts and the cathedral to the eleventh. The cathedral is 55 meters tall, over 165 feet, and is the second tallest religious structure in Georgia after the national cathedral.
The cathedral is on the tentative list to become a World Heritage Site. It is being so considered for its architecture and design which are uniquely Georgian.
In the same region is the monastery of Ikalto. Burned by Persian invaders in 1616, it had been the site of a renowned Academy for about 500 years. There are three churches among the ruins of the Academy.
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