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Friday, April 8, 2016

Katshki Pillar- the church that sits atop the 40 metres high rock

In the west Georgian region of Imereti there is a village called Katskhi, in the village there is a rock 40 metres high, on that rock there is a church, in that church lives a monk, and now I don’t have an idea where this sentence is heading but always wanted to start a story like this. Anyway, there really is a church atop of the 40 metres (130 ft) high rock, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura, a right affluent of the Q’virila.

The rock, with visible church, ruins on a top surface measuring c. 150 m2, has been venerated by locals as the Pillar of Life and a symbol of the True Cross, and has become surrounded by legends. It remained unclimbed by researchers and unsurveyed until 1944 and was more systematically studied from 1999 to 2009.

The Katskhi pillar complex currently consists of a church dedicated to Maximus the Confessor, a crypt (burial vault), three hermit cells, a wine cellar, and a curtain wall on the uneven top surface of the column. At the base of the pillar are the newly built church of Simeon Stylites and ruins of an old wall and belfry.

The church of St. Maximus the Confessor is located at the south-easternmost corner of the top surface of the Katskhi pillar. A small simple hall church design with the dimensions of 4.5 × 3.5 m., it is a modern restoration of the ruined medieval church built of stone. Beneath and south of the church is an elongated rectangular crypt with the dimensions of 2.0 × 1.0 m., which had served as a burial vault. Digs at the ruined wine cellar revealed eight large vessels known in Georgia as k’vevri. Also, of note is a rectangular cellar grotto with the entrance and two skylights—on the vertical surface of the rock, some 10-metre (33 ft) below the top. At the very base of the pillar there is a cross in relief, exhibiting parallels with similar early medieval depictions found elsewhere in Georgia, particularly at Bolnisi.








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