Sightseeing around Mestia
Ethnography Museum of Mestia
The museum was founded in 1936.
It keeps unique archeological and ethnographic material, a rich collection of
ancient Georgian manuscripts, among which the most remarkable are: "Adishi Four
Gospels" (year 897), "Jerusalem Judgment" (X century), and "Mestia Four Gospels"
(year 1033), other old editions of the Gospel, a number of important
exponents of Georgian engravings and paintings. The chronology of the exponents
begins from the 3rd millennium BC.
The Cathedral of the village of Laghami
of Transfiguration of Our Savior is a two level building with an exterior
painting. After disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Cathedral has resumed
service. Liturgy has been chanted in the Cathedral on the Holiday of
Transfiguration (August 19) since 1988.
The first level of the Cathedral
is a small size basilica - of the Great-Martyr Holy Barbara (Barblash) -
dated back to the 9the century. It retains the fragments of a fresco
painting. Two painted layers are observable clearly.
The 2nd level was
built on top of the first one later in XIII-XIV centuries. It has wall
paintings. The Cathedral also keeps the XIII century gold and silver engraved
icon of Our Savior (Pantocrator).
An outer wall of the Cathedral
exposes a painting, the north facade depicts the "Banishment of Adam and Eve
from the Paradise" and the east face illustrates the "Hunting of St. Eustaphios".
The surroundings and the layout
of Seti St. George (Jgrag) Church are indicative of a once existing
monastery. The todays Russian style Cathedral was built in the 19th
century. It is based on a foundation of a Cathedral of X - XI century that
was known as the only dome Cathedral in the whole Svaneti. Russians have
reportedly pulled down the Georgian wall-painted Cathedral and the current Cathedral
has been built following the outline of the old one. In the period of the
Soviet atheism, this Cathedral has been used as a base for establishment of
the Svaneti Ethnography Museum. The first exhibition hall was allocated in
this Cathedral from 1937 to 1995.
In 1995, the Cathedral became
functional and today it is the main Cathedral where liturgical service is offered
regularly. Among the sanctuaries kept in the Cathedral we can point out a
unique cross with a depiction of St. Georges martyrdom - the sample of a XI
century engraved art and a unique gold and silver engraved icon of St. George
on a horseback killing the Roman emperor Diocletian with his lance. Our
Saviors painted icon and a miracle-working icon of the Holy Virgin that has
recently appeared to father George are remarkable as well. This icon has not
been studied yet and is supposed to belong to the XII - XIII centuries.
The surroundings of the St. John
the Baptist Church (Natumtsveli) of Lekhtagi village indicates to a once
existing monastery. A minor basilica is built in the 19th century
on the place of the ancient Cathedral. The information on whereabouts of the
most valuable treasure of this Cathedral, the Grand Silver Fish (Trout) in
particular, gets lost in the beginning of the 20th century. Depiction
of a fish-whale is frequently exposed in Georgian epical and religious motifs.
The locals assume that the treasure must be kept in the surroundings of the
tower of the temple.
The Holy Virgin (Lamaria) Church
of the Lekhtagi village is a two-level construction - the first level
includes three rooms of a cellar type that are thought to be burial places
according to their current state. The church is built in the Chartolanis
There are fragments of a fresco
image of the Virgin on the apse, on the 2nd level of the church.
On the western and the southern walls, there are illustrations 9 historic
persons, among them Pirnatel Japaridze, his family members and Demetre
Chartvelani, the latter bearing the following inscription: "May Lord Have a
Mercy on Demetre Chartvelani, the builder of this Temple". This fact is also
verified by the oral tradition saying that "Lamaria" of Lekhtagi was build by
Papi (Bapi) Chartvelanis. Liturgical service is offered in the church for the
last several years. The paintings of the church are dated back to the 14th
The Archangel (Taringzeli) Church
of the Lanchvali village is situated in the Margianis community. The church
was restored in the 19th century. According to oral tradition, a
landslide once entirely covered the temple. However, the construction has not
ruined. Later they made a hole through the top of the temple and took the sanctuaries,
many icons and crosses, out off the place.
The most valuable artifact among
these sanctuaries is the 11th century icon of Our Savior
(Pantocrator). An inscription says that this exquisite icon was made by
Giorgi, son of Gvazavai, on demand of Johan Dorobelasdze. Our Savior,
blessing the people with the right hand - The Blessing Right Hand, is
depicted on the icon. This kind of hand position is an example of a Byzantine
Art that had arrived there from Greece. This was characterizing feature of
the V-VI cc icon painting of these countries. The icon of Taringseli is
painted in Svaneti and such type of depiction of Our Lord is characteristic
for Svaneti though rare for the rest of Georgia. There is another similar icon
known not of Svanetian origin, which was made on demand of the Queen Rusudan,
the daughter of the King Demetre. At the end of the 20th century,
criminals completely looted the temple.
Holyday in the oldest Pusti Temple located on the main area of Mestia is celebrated in the 4th
week after the Easter - in the week of Healing of the Sick of the Palsy.