Ienashi Church of the Prophet Jonah

Ienashi Church of the Prophet Jonah

Svaneti is Georgia’s highest mountainous region, and is characterized by a strongly expressed sense of individualism. In addition to its picturesque landscapes, Svaneti is rich in monuments of cultural and spiritual importance. One of these is the immovable monument of outstanding culture from the 12th to 14th centuries known as the Ienashi Church of the Prophet Jonah, located nine kilometers away from Mestia.
Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti

The Structure of Ienashi Church of the Prophet Jonah

This hewn-stone basilica-type church was once completely painted, but nowadays the frescoes are very hard to make out. The interior paintings are from the 14th century, and it is only here that we encounter an episode from the life of the Prophet Jonah, in which he escapes from the whale's mouth.

The Frescoes of Ienashi Church of the Prophet Jonah

One notable item from the church’s treasury was the large 11th-century icon of the Savior, in which Christ is depicted from the waist up, in a deësis pose, with a gospel in his hand. The icon is framed in gold and plated with silver, and only the face is painted. 

Not all of the treasures from the church made it to the 21st century - it has been robbed multiple times over the centuries. Over the course of time many objects have been returned and are preserved in the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography.

For example, in 1978 the stolen icon of Saint George, the processional crosses, the Italian cross, and the 14th-century icon of Saint Theodore were retrieved after having been in London and Geneva.


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