Cultural Travel - Georgia

    close to people - close to tradition


The soul of Georgia


The Georgian Orthodox Church has the same origin as the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches. Georgia was Christianized by St. Nino from Cappadocia in the 4th century. She created the Georgian cross from a vine and tied it with her own hair. According to tradition Saint Nino completed her mission of Christianizing Georgia under the guidance of the Holy Mother of God, who is considered as the protectress of Georgia.

According to legend, King Mirian III initially would not accept the new religion. Once, however, he got lost in the forest and did not get any help from the Gods. Finally, as a move of despair, he also prayed to St. Nino's God for help. His prayers were heard, and from that moment King Mirian III decided to accept the new religion. In 337 he declared Orthodox Christianity as state religion in Georgia. The western Georgian Kingdom of Egrisi declared Christianity as state religion in 523.

The Georgian Orthodox Church gives hope and strength to Georgians in everyday life. They find peace and calmness by taking part in rituals like the services, communion, talking with priests, giving confession, lighting candles and listening to church hymns. The Georgian orthodox church is a pillar in the lives of most Georgians, and Patriarch Ilia II holds an exceptional position looked upon by people with tremendous respect. Standing guard over the church is for Georgians the same as defending Georgia's heritage.

Entering a Georgian Church, one is met with an atmos- phere of relief regardless of religious standpoint. The church-room is softened with candle-lights, people are praying individually at the same time as other ceremonies are taking place, such as paraklisi service or baptism. People light candles in front of different icons, and the walls are decorated with frescos of old Christian motifs.

The Georgian Orthodox Church is to a certain extent following strict rules with regard to procedures and rituals.


At the same time, however, there is a remarkable degree of flexibility, pragmatism and humor repre- sented. You may see a priest talking friendly to a person, at the same time as he is making last preparations for a wedding-ceremony due to start in the next moment.

If one approaches the church with the right dignity and respect, one will be warmly welcomed regardless of religious affiliation. This will give you the opportunity to experience the special atmosphere of the Georgian Orthodox Church. At the same one will learn directly from the sources about the important role and position of the church in Georgian culture and tradition.

Monasteries, literature and architecture

As from the 6th century monasticism started gaining ground in Georgia and reached it's peak in the 10th - the 12th century.  Numerous monasteries were built, and they became important places for missionary and cultural activities.

The Christian literature reached it's zenith in the period between the 11th and 13th centuries. The invasions of Chengiz Khan in the 13th century and of Tamerlane in the 14th-15th centuries disrupted the Georgian Orthodox Church, and the church was divided into eastern and western parts.

Georgian ecclesiastic art takes a central position in Georgian Christian architecture. It combines the classical dome style with original basilica style forming the Georgian cross-dome style. In the early medieval period Georgian churches were mainly Basilicas. However from the 9th century the Cross-dome architecture started developing in Georgia.

Sameba - The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. Photo: Goksan Akan © all rights reserved.


Djvari Monastery close to the city of Mtskheta. Photo: Gia Chkhatarashvili©all rights reserved.


Icon with the Holy Mother and Jesus. Photo: Svend Waage © all rights reserved.