THE CHURCH OF MARTVILI (Martyrs) is located in the town of Martvili. It was built in the first half of the VII century. In X century, after foundation of Chkondidi Episcopacy, Martvili became the Cathedral of Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The Chkondidi Archbishop was assigned the position of Mtsignobartukhutsesi (Prime Minister) by David Agmashenebeli in 1104. There was a scriptorium in the monastery. Collection of manuscripts created here is in safe keeping at the National Center of Manuscripts. Martvili church is a construction of earlier crossdome types of buildings and looks very much like Jvari monastery in Mtskheta. Invasions of Turks and Arabs have damaged it considerably, and due to that, in the X century, the church was substantially overhauled by the king of the Abkhaz, Giorgi II (923-957).New support of the dome was made, outer walls were added, burial vault was leaned to. The painting of the monastery was performed in the XVI-XVII centuries by orders of Odishi rulers. To the north of the main cathedral, on the fence stands three-level minuscule cross-dome type church of Chikvani constructed of cut stones. According to Kartlis Tskhovreba (Georgian Chronicles), the Georgian king, Bagrat IV (1027-1072), was laid to rest in the Martvili monastery.
In ancient times Chkondidi was a hotbed of heathen religious and cult activities. There was a heathen altar on the high hillock – a huge oak (Chkondi) tree. It was a place named after Kapunia, the patron of fertility, reproduction and well-being of the family, who was worshipped by the local population and where local clerics – Chkoindari – sacrificed babies. The first church was arguably built here, on the place where oak tree stood, named after Andrew the First-called who preached Christianity in Samegrelo. From 2007 the monastery life in Martvili was revived, and the monks’ monastery of St. Andrew the First-called and a Convent of St. Nino were founded.
Copyright © 2017. N. Elizbarashvili, B. Kupatadze
Copyright © 2017. “Dani” Publishing