Cover Picture © Credits to iStock/Yulia-B
Cover Picture © Credits to iStock/Yulia-B

Metekhi Church, an ancient monument of Tbilisi

2 minutes to read

Tbilisi is a sunny city that attracts many people from all over the world. The loveliest part of the city is the old town of Tbilisi that tells you the centuries-long history. In this article, I will present you the Metekhi Church that is one of the most ancient monuments of the capital. 

Metekhi Church, Tbilisi
Metekhi Church, Tbilisi
Metekhi St, T'bilisi, Georgia

History

Metekhi Church is located in the historical district, on the left bank of the Mtkvari River. According to the historical sources, King Vakhtang Gorgasali built the church and a fortress here. It also served as a residence for Georgian kings. St. Shushanik is buried in Metekhi Church by King Gorgasali. She was killed by her fire worshipper husband because of the religion in the 5th century. 

Due to many invasions, Tbilisi was destroyed around 40 times, and unfortunately, the church was damaged as well. However, Georgians reconstructed it again and again. The last restoration was held by King Demetre II between 1278-1289. Metekhi Church has a dome, which is similar to the medieval structure. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/Xantana
Picture © Credits to iStock/Xantana

After Georgia became the part of the Russian Empire in the 18th century, a prison was built under Metekhi Church. Even Stalin and other revolutionaries were once imprisoned here. There is one hole that was dug out by the prisoners to escape from the prison. On the walls, there are the scratches from the prisoners still visible. After a while, the prison was closed. From 1988, thanks to our Patriarch Ilia II, Metekhi Church was returned to its real function, and a new cross was placed on the dome of the church. 

A legend about Metekhi 

There is one legend that is connected to the name of ‘Metekhi.’ The head of Ossetians called Bakatari kidnapped the sister of King Vakhtang Gorgasali. The king decided to save her life with the help of the letter from his sister. She informed him that Bakatari was always wearing the armor to protect himself. However, killing him was only possible by shooting him in the armpit. When they met with each other, the head of Ossetians asked the king not to shoot him until he would cross the river Mtkvari. However, the king broke his promise and killed him. As Gorgasali broke his promise that was against his conscience, he decided to build a church. So, he called this church ‘Metekhi’, which  translates to ‘I broke my promise.’ 

Picture © Credits to iStock/elvirkin
Picture © Credits to iStock/elvirkin

Nowadays, Metekhi Church proudly stands in the Old Town, and there is a statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali as well, who is the founder of the city. While visiting Tbilisi, do not miss Metekhi Church, one of the most ancient monuments of Georgia. It is also one of the symbols of Tbilisi that speaks about the history of the city. 


Interesting towns related to this story


The author

Anano Chikhradze

Anano Chikhradze

I am Anano. I Iove travelling, history and getting to know people from all over the world. I write about Georgia, my country, and I am sure everybody will fall in love with it.

View more stories

Stories you might also like