THE CROSS-DOME TYPE CATHEDRAL OF BETANIA is located in the region of Kvemo Kartli, 15 km to the south-west from Tbilisi, in the gorge of river Vere. Betania was considered lost and was discovered anew in the XIX century.
To the west of the main cathedral there is a small hall church of St. George erected in 1196 by the father’s sister of Queen Tamar, Rusudan. Church was abandoned for a long time, and in mid-XIX century it was cleaned by an artist, Grigori Gagarin, who also revealed a fresco of Bagrationi Royal family (Giorgi III, Tamar, Giorgi IV). In 1894-1896 monk community settled in the monastery again. The outer coverage of the Cathedral has been rehabilitated. Eastern facade and window rims have ornaments.
The best specimens of XII-XIII century Georgian mural painting are present here. There is a figure of Christ Pantokratoros in the arch of the altar, on the walls of the apse there are images of Prophets. On the northern wall there is a mural showing the cicle of crucifixion of the Lord, on the southern wall – scenes from the Old Testament. On the West wall was painted a composition of Doomsday (today preserved only in fragments).
The outstanding specimens of secular painting are the portraits of the Royal family depicted on the southern wall – Giorgi III, Queen Tamar and Giorgi IV Lasha. Those paintings were performed in 1206 when Giorgi IV Lasha received benediction of shared crown. Famous Georgian poet and public figure, Grigol Orbeliani, devoted a poem The Face of Queen Tamar at the Church of Betania to this fresco. On the southern wall of the cathedral there is the portrait of a church warden Sumbat Orbeli donned in the attire of a monk and keeping a model of the church in hands. Monastery of Betania was rehabilitated in 2000, extra cells have been built.
Copyright © 2017. N. Elizbarashvili, B. Kupatadze
Copyright © 2017. “Dani” Publishing