The Temple of St. Elijah of Tishbe

The Temple of St. Elijah of Tishbe

Legend has it that St. Elijah of Tishbe (9th century BCE) ascended to heaven from this very place, and left his disciple Elisha his cloak. Nowadays, the cloak of St. Elijah is buried in Svetitskhoveli, near the robe that Jesus wore before crucifixion.

History of the Temple of St. Elijah of Tishbe

Either because of its location or the legends about the place, the temple is deemed mysterious and is frequently visited not only by locals but tourists and pilgrims from all over the world.

The twin-domed limestone temple in the south of Dedoplistskaro town, in Georgia’s easternmost region of Kakheti, looks like an integral part of the mountain. The temple was built in honor of St. Elijah, a saint who lived in the city of Tishbe in Palestine in the 9th century BCE and was considered one of the greatest prophets.

The temple in its current form was built in 2006 on the remains of the old temple, following archaeological excavations on the territory. Based on the material evidence found here, archeologists were able to decipher the chronology of the building and to ascertain some parts of its history.

Archaeological excavations in particular confirmed that the chapel named after St. Elijah existed in the 6th century CE and was completely enclosed in a natural cave.

Over the centuries, the chapel was destroyed by enemy troops invading Georgia, so Georgian kings had to rebuild it. Finally, in the 20th century, the temple, abandoned during communist rule, succumbed to harsh weather conditions.

The French writer Alexandre Dumas, who traveled to the Caucasus and in particular to Georgia in 1859, wrote of the temple and the legend of Mount Elijah in his book "The Caucasus"

Mount Elijah hides another secret, namely an entrance to a tunnel, which passes through the medieval fortress town nearby Dedoplistskaro town, called Khornabuji. Currently, the tunnel is closed, but according to locals, when open it was so large that 2-3 horses could move freely through it.

Many people gather at the magnificent temple and on the slopes of the mountain on August 2, during "Eliaoba" or St. Elijah’s Day.

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