Tsaishi Cathedral

If you visit the balneological resort of Tsaishi in the Samegrelo region of western Georgia, which is famous for its mineral waters, you will definitely be drawn to Urti Mountain and the cathedral built on its wide slopes.
Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti

 History of Tsaishi Cathedral 

Mount Urti has a sacred meaning for locals, and it is even assumed that artifacts of the Colchian civilization are hidden here, reminding on the greatness of the Kingdom of Colchis, ruled by the King Aeëtes and his daughter Medea.

This cathedral, which was one of the main educational centers of Georgia for centuries, was from time to time looted by enemies or damaged by natural disasters, but there have always been people able to restore it and prevent it from falling into ruin.

The cathedral on Mount Urti was built in the 12th-14th centuries. Before that, a domed basilica of the 10th-11th centuries used to stand on this site. 

Tsaishi Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God is the cathedral of the Zugdidi and Tsaishi Eparchy, and one of the oldest episcopal cathedrals in Georgia.

Structure and Painting of the Tsaishi Cathedral 

The complex is surrounded by a wide and high fence, and comprises the Church of the Virgin Mary, a two-story bell tower, and the ruins of the episcopal palace.

The old patterns of ornaments and reliefs of the Tsaishi Cathedral are more or less preserved on the eastern facade, and on the other facades they have been restored. 

The inscriptions on the icons here provide us with important information, as they teach us of the devastating earthquake of 1614, which caused great damage and was so strong that the aftershocks lasted for a year. As a result of that natural disaster, this temple of earlier feudal times was almost destroyed. 

According to historical sources, in the 17th century, the temple was restored by Tsaishi Bishop Malachi II, who was later consecrated as the Catholicos-Patriarch of Western Georgia (1616-1639). In the 1650s-60s, the Tsaishi Church was burnt down by an enemy force.

In 1777, Bishop Grigol Dadiani of Tsaishi repaired the main temple, built a stone bell tower, surrounded the monastery with a wall, and published a collection of manuscripts and printed books.

The 17th-century fresco of St. George, the 17th-century painting of the altar, and the 17th-century scene from the life of St. George all attract visitors' attention to the cathedral.

There is also a palm garden in the yard and a 600-year-old linden tree. In the vicinity of the Tsaishi Cathedral, there is a grove of zelkova - a very rare plant.

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