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.
Date of Visit
30th June 2013
Metadata and all media released under Creative Commons unless otherwise indicated
Emma Loosley, “Bolnisi,” Architecture and Asceticism, accessed December 8, 2023, https://architectureandasceticism.exeter.ac.uk/items/show/98.