Monday, May 07, 2007

Walking about Tbilisi

Beside the hotel i'm staying in is a church originally built in the sixth century. What remains of the original after 12th, 17th and 20th century restorations i could not tell. My colleague that i'm working with this week can read the russian on the plaque but it lacks details. Inside it is very dark and simply loaded with icons and candle stands. There was one person inside lighting candles and praying, another visiting, as we were, and reading the inscriptions on what looked like grave stones set into the floor. It certainly felt like it could be the sixth century once inside. It seems that the georgian population is quite religiously observant. In the few minutes i stood outside of the church virtually everyone that i saw walk by would stop in front the arch that you see pictured here. They would pause for a good 30 seconds to a minute (perhaps reciting a prayer) and then they would cross themselves and carry on where they were headed. Walking around the old town we passed by at least five churches and in the courtyards of all but one i could see priests sitting on benches actively engaged in conversation with each other and lay folk. The iconography (paintings, statues, symbols carved into stone and more) is abundant and beautiful.

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