Hi! Today we will once again take a stroll through the streets of ancient Tbilisi. This time, we will get acquainted with the Anchiskhati Basilica, considered the oldest church in the Georgian capital.
How to Get There
I visited the church during my first walking tour of Tbilisi. About a 15-minute walk from here is the exit from the "Liberty Square" metro station.
The church is still active, and entrance is free. Despite signs prohibiting photography, church staff allow tourists to take a few shots.
The address of the building is 7 Shavteli Street.
A Bit of History
As mentioned earlier, Anchiskhati Church is considered the oldest religious structure in the city. The building was constructed in the 6th century during the reign of King Dachi of Iberia, the son of King Vakhtang I Gorgasali. Following his father's will, the successor was involved in relocating the capital from Mtskheta to Tbilisi.
Throughout its long history, the church has undergone numerous changes. For instance, the upper part of the temple and the columns date back to the 17th century. During this time, a bell tower was also added. Despite these renovations, the apse, entrance arch, and altar window have retained their original appearance. Architectural books note that the window's form is unique to the early period of Georgia's religious structures.
Anchiskhati, also known as the Nativity Church or the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, is a stone three-nave basilica. The interior spaces of such structures are divided into several parts (naves) by rows of columns. In Georgia's past, basilicas were also constructed with halls divided by walls with doors; these were called three-churches.
I believe that the Basilica Anchiskhati received its current name not from its first days of existence, as this name is associated with the relocation of the Savior icon here in the 17th century. Prior to that, the holy relic was located in the monastery of the village of Ancha in the southwest of the country. Today, the icon is kept in the collection of the State Museum of Art of Georgia.
During the Soviet era, the basilica was closed. Religious services resumed in the late 1980s.
The building is located in the central part of the city, attracting many tourists, so there are many souvenir shops nearby. There are several benches on the complex grounds, providing a place to rest after exploring the city.
Next time, we will take a stroll to the Narikala Fortress in Tbilisi, which can be considered one of the symbols of the ancient Georgian capital.
Have a nice trip!