Because of the Independence Day celebrations, our coach cannot drive straight through the center of town to our next destination, the Cathedral of King Bagrat. There seems to be quite an argument between our guide, the driver and the local police controlling the traffic. After much gesticulating and angry exchanges, we lose, and have to drive a very long way round! Our driver is amazing, negotiating the narrowest of streets, seemingly passing perilously close to overhead power lines and managing to get us safely to the Cathedral.
|inside the cathedral|
This Cathedral of the Assumption, commissioned in 1003 by King Bagrat III, is a huge triconch (with three apses or semi circular recesses) and cruciform church with a massive central dome, symbolizing the heavenly sphere.
The Turks destroyed this wonderful building in the late 17th century and it remained roofless and in a sorry state until UNESCO put it on the World Heritage list and it has been restored. Fortunately the unsightly scaffolding mentioned in the guide books has now been taken down so we can enjoy the building in all its glory. Unfortunately the nature of the restoration is controversial and has upset UNESCO. At their 37th conference session on World Heritage sites they reported (see item 32 - and incidentally item 33 re Mtskheta) regret that Bagrat had been altered to such an extent that its authenticity has been irreversibly compromised - but for the moment they recommended to retain it on the list subject to additional information requested to enable them to modify the boundary of the World Heritage site, seemingly to enable Gelati to be retained without the inclusion of Bagrat cathedral…at least that is my interpretation of the sometimes conflicting information on the internet.
Our guide shows us an icon associated with a poem about the wine grape and the Virgin Mary - this was a 12th century hymn dedicated by King Demetrius I, (1093–1156 AD) son of David the builder, to his new kingdom.
See for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shen_Khar_Venakhi and http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-georgian+republic for more information on this and on Georgia's wine making tradition, which began around 6000 years ago.
|from a notice board at Bagrat|
|wall mural in Kutaisi|
|the impressive fountain in central square, Kutaisi|
|Independence Day celebrations Kutaisi 2014|