Posted by: Kejeradze | მარტი 29, 2012

Sioni Cathedral / Сиони

The “Sioni” Cathedral of the Dormition  is a Georgian Orthodox cathedral in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Following a medieval Georgian tradition of naming churches after particular places in the Holy Land, the Sioni Cathedral bears the name of Mount Zion at Jerusalem. It is commonly known as the “Tbilisi Sioni” to distinguish it from several other churches across Georgia bearing the name Sioni.

The Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral is situated in historic Sionis Kucha (Sioni Street) in downtown Tbilisi, with its eastern façade fronting the right embankment of the Mtkvari River. It was initially built in the 6th-7th centuries. Since then, it has been destroyed by foreign invaders and reconstructed several times. The current church is based on a 13th-century version with some changes from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Sioni Cathedral was the main Georgian Orthodox Cathedral and the seat of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia until the Holy Trinity Cathedral was consecrated in 2004.

According to medieval Georgian annals, the construction of the original church on this site was initiated by King Vakhtang Gorgasali in the 5th century. A hundred years later, Guaram, the presiding prince of Iberia (Kartli), in c. 575 began building a new structure, which was completed by his successor Adarnase in circa 639. According to legend, both princes were buried in this church, but no trace of their raves has been found. This early church was completely destroyed by Arabs, and was subsequently built de novo.

The Cathedral was completely rebuilt by King David the Builder in 1112. The basic elements of the existing structure date from this period. It was heavily damaged in 1226, when its dome was ruined at the order of Jalal ad Din Mingburnu. It was subsequently repaired, but damaged again by Timur in 1386 and repaired by King Alexander I. It was again damaged during the Persian invasion in the 17th century.

In 1657, the Metropolitan of Tbilisi, Elise Saginashvili (d.1670), substantially restored the cupola and added the southern chapel, but the structure was again devastated in 1668, this time by earthquake.

The regent of Kartli, batonishvili (prince) Vakhtang, carried out restorations of the cupola and cathedral walls in 1710. However, the church was again damaged by the invasion of the Persians in 1795.

The cathedral’s interior took a different look between 1850 and 1860 when the Russian artist and general Knyaz Grigory Gagarin (1810 – 1893) composed an interesting series of the murals, though the older Georgian frescoes were lost in the process. A portion of the murals on the western wall were executed by the Georgian artist Levan Tsutskiridze in the 1980s.

The stone iconostasis dates to the 1850s. It replaced the wooden iconostasis burned during the Persian invasion in 1795. To the left of the altar is the venerated Grapevine cross which, according to a tradition, was forged by Saint Nino, a Cappadocian woman who preached Christianity in Georgia in the early 4th century. King Vakhtang III gave the reliquary itself in the early 14th century.

The Sioni Cathedral also entered history as the place where the Russian Imperial manifesto on the annexation of Georgia was first published. It occurred on April 12, 1802, when the Russian commander-in-chief in Georgia, General Karl von Knorring, assembled the Georgian nobles in the Cathedral, which was then surrounded by Russian troops. The nobles were forced to take an oath to the Russian Imperial crown. Any who disagreed were taken into custody.

Sioni Cathedral remained functional through Soviet times, and was partially renovated from 1980-1983.

Сиони — исторически главный храм Тбилиси и один из 2-х главных в Грузинской церкви; назван в честь Сионской горы и освящён в честь Успения Пресвятой Богородицы. Стоит на берегу реки Куры в историческом центре города. До строительства собора Цминда Самеба (2004) здесь находилась кафедра грузинского католикоса.

Основание храма приписывается Вахтангу I Горгасалу. Более вероятно, что инициатором строительства выступил в конце VI века куропалат Гурам I (здесь же, вероятно, и похороненный). Эта первоначальная церковь была после учреждения эмирата снесена арабами.

В 1112 году Давид IV Строитель, освободив Тбилиси от арабов, возвёл в городе новый собор, который не раз подвергался разрушениям и восстановлению. Особенно значительные работы потребовались после нашествия Джелал ад-Дин Манкбурны и землетрясения 1668 года.

В сентябре 1795 года собор сильно пострадал от нашествия Ага-Мухаммед-хана. Были сожжены деревянные хоры и иконостас, фрески покрылись копотью и сажей. Собор вскоре был восстановлен и в1817 году Минай Медичи писал, что «он обширный и великолепный, разрисован внутри картинами из Библии»[1]

В соборе погребены некоторые иерархи Грузинской церкви, в частности Католикосы-Патриархи Кирион II (канонизирован в 2002 году), Давид V (Девдариани).

После реставрации 1980—1983 годах храм Сиони, несмотря на сложную строительную историю, сохранил свой средневековый облик. Поодаль от собора две колокольни — одна старинная, трёхъярусная, постройки XV века, разрушенная персами и восстановленная в XX веке, другая — типичный образчик русского классицизма (построена в 1812 году).

В интерьере храма сохранились фрески русского художника Г. Г. Гагарина.

Первое место среди реликвий, хранящихся в храме, занимает древний крест святой Нины.

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