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International Association of Tourists and Travelers

Bolnisi Sioni Cathedral

Bolnisi Sioni is the only remaining three aisled basilica in Georgia. Being one of the most magnificent examples of early medieval churches it is the biggest basilica of that period.

In the end of the fifth century, in the epoch of political and cultural strengthening of the country, during the reign of King Vakhtang Gorgasali the Georgian Church achieved independence and the most important building of the period is Bolnisi Sioni. The naves outside are covered with a common double-pitched roof. On the eastern side, beside the apse wall there is a little chapel built in the 8th c. The appearance of the church is simple and laconic. The walls are faced with smoothly hewn, large tuff slabs of deep and intensive turquoise colour. In this early period of the development of Georgian architecture designers did not set themselves the aim of artistic quality of the facades. They paid more attention to the interior design. The interior of Bolnisi�s Sioni produces imposing and monumental impression.

Bolnisis Sioni Cathedral is famous for having an inscription of the oldest written Georgian to have been found in the country (dated to 478-493, the original is in the State Museum). Georgian writing was first seen in the 5th century. The first examples also include inscriptions in the Georgian monastery of the Holy Cross in Palestine, in the Bethlehem desert (Bir-ell-Katt), as well as those in the Sioni Church of Bolnisi.

The source of the Georgian script is a controversial problem. Some scholars believe that it appeared long before the Christian epoch, while others relate its appearance to the establishment of the Christian religion. They do not deny the possible existence of a certain original writing in the pre-Christian era. According to the old inscriptions at Bolnisi Sioni the cathedral was built in 478-493. The inscription also give us some infor-mation about events, which took place in that period.
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