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Culture hidden Monasteries and Sights

Tsalenjikha 2006-08-23 12:42

Thirty kilometers north of the town of Zugdidi, on a high hill, stands the domed church of Tsalenjikha, overlooking the village of that name, some three kilometers away.

The church dates from the X - XI century A. D. and is justly regarded as an outstanding specimen of medieval Georgian architecture.
The facades of the building are richly ornamented. The mural paintings of the nave preserve the images of saints and of the founders. In the porches, on the columns of the nave, and over the windows, there are many Georgian and Greek inscriptions of historical value, but for the most part damaged.

As can be learnt from the inscriptions, the murals were commissioned by the ruler of Samegrelo, Prince Vameq Dadiani (1386 - 1396), and executed by the Byzantine master Kyr Manuel Eugenicos.

In the XVIII century the damaged portions of the church were restored and ornamented by Bishop Eudemon Jayani of Tsalenjikha, while the then ruler of Samegrelo, Levan II Dadiani, built the adjoining chapel and had its interior covered with murals. Of these only some fragments have come down to us, including the group portrait, on the south wall, of Levan II himself and the princely family.
The XIX century saw the substitution of a plain stone fence for the original enceinte with which the church had been enclosed, and which, with the lapse of time, had gradually been reduced to ruins.

Rising conspicuously over the northern stretch of this fence, is a two-storeyed bell tower. The gate constitutes the first storey, the second being taken by the belfry proper.

An interesting feature is a tunnel (40 m. to 45 m. long and 3 m. to 4 m. high) running in a westerly direction from the church.


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