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Zarzma Monastery of Transfiguration (ზარზმის მონასტერი)

Zarzma Monastery of Transfiguration

 

 

 

Location: Zarzma, Samtskhe-Javakheti      Map

Found: 8th century by the monk Serapion

 

 

 

Description of Zarzma Monastery

Zarzma Monastery is located in Zarzma, Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia. Zarzma Monastery was found in 8th century by the monk Serapion. A local noble man Giorgi Chorchaneli was responsible in donating large sums of money and estate for the construction. We have little information about earlier life of this religious community. Much of the buildings you see today date back to the 14th century when the buildings of the complex were reconstructed with a help of a Jaqeli family. Some of portraits of its members are depicted on frescoes among icons of saints. Today Zarzma Monastery is an active monastery. Small community of monks live here. They are most famous for the distinct Georgian singing that you won't hear anywhere else. It is open to the public, but have respect for the religious traditions. Long sleeves and pants are a preferred choice.

 

 

 

 

 

  Zarzma Monastery is located in a wooded valley of the Kwabliani River, 8 km west of the village of Adigeni, 30 km west of the city of Akhaltsikhe. The dominant architectural complex is the domed church with a bell tower, one of the largest in Georgia.

The earliest church on this site was probably built in the 8th century by the monk Serapion Zarmzsky, which is described in the hagiographical composition of Vasily Zarzmsky “Life and Asceticism of the God-Blessed Blessed Father of our Serapion Zarzmeli” dated to the 10th century. According to this source, Prince George Chorchaneli made significant donations to the monastery. However, the surviving structure dates from the beginning of the XIV century (the old temple was supposedly destroyed by an earthquake in the XIII century). Its construction was carried out during the reign in Samtskhe Beki Mandaturtuhutsesi. All that has been preserved from the former monastery is a Georgian inscription from the late 10th century inserted into the entrance arch of the chapel. The inscription reports on military assistance provided by the Georgian nobility to the Byzantine emperor Vasily II in his struggle against the rebellious general Bardas Skler in 979 [3]. In 1544, the new patron saints of the monastery - the family of the princes Khurtsidze - restored it.

The facades of the church are richly decorated, and the interior is painted with frescoes. In addition to the religious cycles of wall paintings, there is a series of portraits of the 14th century Yageli family, as well as historical figures of the 16th century. Later, after the Ottoman conquest of the area later in the XVI century, the monastery was abandoned and was in poor condition.

At the end of the 19th century, on the initiative of Grand Duke George Alexandrovich, the restoration of the monastery complex began, which ended in 1905 (this is indicated in the inscription on the temple wall) [1]. At the same time, however, some unique elements of the decor were lost.

In 1921, a tourist base was located in the monastery, and since 1938 a museum operated. In 1989, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II consecrated the main temple, and in 1999 the monastery was re-formed.

Currently, the monastery is functioning, a community of Georgian monks lives in it. It is also a place of pilgrimage and tourism.

Ahali Zarzma
A small copy of the Zarzma church, known as Akhali-Zarzma (“New Zarzma”), is located in the same municipality, not far from Abastumani. Its founder was Grand Duke George Alexandrovich. The Tbilisi architect Otto Jacob Simons, built the church in 1899-1902, combining medieval Georgian architecture with modern architectural forms. The interior was decorated with paintings by Russian artist Mikhail Nesterov.

 

 

 

 

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