Bolnisi Sioni church has the oldest dated inscription in the Georgian language on Georgian soil that states that the church was completed in 493 (the earliest securely dated Georgian inscriptions have been discovered in the Holy Land). The original inscription is now in the National Art Museum in Tbilisi, but a replica has been placed on the church wall. This tells that the building was completed by the end of the C5th and this is particularly notable given the exceptional size of the building. It is referred to as a five-aisled basilica. The central nave is flanked by aisles to the north and south, that end in presbyteries, but in addition doors lead on both the north and south sides to the same kind of semi-open arcades found at Nekresi. The northern aisle terminates in an apse, creating an al fresco chapel and is walled in to the south, east and west, but open to the elements on the north side. To the south, the central element of this arcade is open to the south, but the eastern and western extremities have been closed in to create two chambers at either end of the arcade. In addition there is a C17th belltower in the courtyard of the church. The church has received a new roof and parts of the architecture, particularly on the northern side, have recently been renovated.
Nekresi is a complex of churches in the foothills of the Caucasus near the border with Dagestan. In the valley beneath, archaeologists have found the remains of a sun temple and it is popularly believed that the early Christians appropriated an earlier sacred site, possibly a Zoroastrian high place, in building a church in the C4th at this location. However this belief has been disproved by archaeological excavation which has found no evidence of pre-Christian occupation at the site and has redated the 'C4th' building to the C6th. This structure has entrances on the north, south and east sides and is open to the elements on all sides. It has an undercroft that was used for burials suggesting that this was possibly built as a funerary chapel. The complex also includes a C6th-C7th basilica, known in Georgia as a triple basilica as the narthex opens onto three aisles, but the south aisle does not communicate with the main body of the church and both the north and south aisles are semi-open to the elements with arched arcades to the north and south. There is also an C8th-C9th centrally-planned church that shows a strong Persian influence in its design. The rest of the monastery complex is medieval and a series of early Georgian inscriptions excavated nearby are displayed within them. Nekresi is also associated with one of the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers St. Abibos Nekreseli who was reputedly martyred for his resistance to Zoroastrianism.
Tags: (As)Syrian Fathers, Architecture, C4th, C6th-C7th, C8th-C9th, Centrally-Planned, Church, Funerary Chapel, Georgia, Georgian, Georgian Inscription, Inscription, Kakheti, Middle Ages, Nekresi, Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers, Triple Basilica, Zoroastrian