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GREMI and NEKRESI

MEDIEVAL FORTIFIED TOWN OF GREMI, the residence of the kings of Kakheti (1466-1614), is located to the East, 20 km from Telavi and 16 km from Kvareli, 480 meters above the sea level. Gremi used to be not only political but also economic and cultural center of Kakheti. The literacy activity was very active here. It was on the path of caravan ways. As a result of Iranian Shah Abbas I invasion in Kakheti, Gremi was ransacked. Fortified town area was 50 ha and it consisted of three major parts: Complex of All Angels, Royal Residence and Merchants neighborhood. Complex of All Angels was isolated by a fence. It had a stone-paved secret exit toward river Intsobi. In the eastern citadel of Gremi is located the church of All Angels having the form of a cross with a dome (built in 1565 by Kakheti king Levan, painting finished in 1577). On the western wall of the interior of the cathedral, church wardens’ portraits are represented. The fence of the Cathedral equipped with gun emplacements was at the same time a reinforcement which was rehabilitated by Erekle II. In the Royal residence there were Royal Palaces, a building with a fountain, eight-angle tower, brick royal bath supplied with water through an aqueduct linked with river Lopoti. The whole town was crossed by ceramic pipes of running water. Merchants’ neighborhood compiles an indoor market (kulbaks) and a hotel (karvasla). The market was a fenced territory paved with stone with four rows of arched shops (dukani) (overall 30 shops). Each dukani (area 10 sq.m.) consisted of a room and a veranda open to the courtyard where goods for sale were stocked. Some dukani had a basement. The kulbaks from the East were attached to the corridor-type hotel of 80 meters long (it had 16 rooms each from both sides). In 80-ies of the XX century a local history museum was opened here. On December 12, 1999 religious life was revived in Gremi.

HISTORICAL TOWNSHIP OF NEKRESI was located in Kakheti, near the hamlet of Shilda in today’s Kvareli region, on the mountain slope. The township was founded by the king of Kartli, Parnajom (II c. BC). In IV century king Mirdat built here a church where Assyrian st. Father Abibos Nekreseli settled in the VI century and Episcopacy Cathedra was founded. From Nekresi the political and cultural influence of the Kartli Kingdom spread to Hereti, mountainous regions of eastern Caucasus and Dagestan. 

The Nekresi complex encompasses several monuments the oldest of which is Small Basilica of the second half of IV century (size: 4,6 x 3,8m, one of the first Christian constructions in Georgia). Big three-church Basilica was constructed in the name of Assumption of the Virgin Mary in VII century and was painted in XVI century (in the western part of the southern wall there are portraits of king Levan and his spouse Tinatin under the auspices of whom the paintings were made). And the dome church derides from VIII-IX centuries. From the two-level palace of Nekresi Bishop there are only ruins left. The tower was added to the Palace in XVI century.

On the territory of the monastery have also survived remnants of living and farming buildings. Archeological excavations in Nekresi have discovered character signs which in the opinion of the part of scholars are ancient Georgian inscriptions. Nekresi is surrounded by stone fence which used to have entrance from south-west. Nekresi observes the procedure distinct from all Orthodox churches. Only in this church they slaughter a hog. This tradition stems from one occasion. Nekresi fortress was assulted and surrounded by the Lezghins. When the Georgians felt that difficulties are unbearable, they resorted to a sly prank: they slaughtered all swines available in the fortress, spilled the blood over the fence and dropped the meat. Muslim Lezghins lifted the siege and returned back. So was spared the fortress and the monastery from plunder. After that every November 7 the celebration called Nekresoba is held.

Copyright © 2017. N. Elizbarashvili, B. Kupatadze
Copyright © 2017. “Dani” Publishing


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