Had an amazing trip to Imereti (Western Georgia), so please be prepared to a small picspam, because the places I’ve been too, are really interesting and worth seeing.
Starting point was Mghvimevi Monastery near the industrial town Chiatura. It looks like it is growing from rock: a part of the church was hewn, and the other one built to it. Now there is a nunnery, and we had luck to be invited to a tea by one of the nuns, who appeared to be a childhood friend of our guide.
Down the mountain a small hotel or rather a guesthouse has been opened, so people who want to experience monastery life, can stay there.
The next destination was Katskhi Pillar, a really impressive natural monument with a touching and complicated story behind. This 40 meter tall limestone pillar has a church down at its feet, and another up. According to “official” legends, the stylites, those monks who believed that praying on such pillars made them closer to God, used to live and serve there. After Ottoman invasions the place stayed abandoned. In the modern times the rock was climbed in 1944 by a group of researchers, and in the middle of 90s a religious revival started there: a monk Maxim Kavtaradze moved at the rock, and started the rebuilding attempts. He confessed that before adoption of vows he used to lead a very messy life, so this might be his mission as a church servant now. First with help of donations, and later with assistance of the Georgian state, the construction of small church has been completed in 2009.
One can reach the top with the iron ladder, but for women it is totally forbidden. The church at the feet of Katskhi Pillar, and its surroundings are very simple and nice. A kitten I’ve met there was very relaxed as well: maybe such a peaceful surrounding influences not just people
The only thing which disappointed me to anger was mess which people left almost at the feet of the hill and rock: there is a small picnic place, which has been really full of plastic bags, papers and so on. Even though there was a couple of trash bins… Extremely holy lunch have they had!
And then, we proceeded to Chiatura, an industrial town with immense manganese deposits. It is also peculiar, that rope roads are part of transportation system of the town. Currently the cabins look pretty Soviet and old-school, but soon they should be replaced with modern ones, like in Tbilisi or Batumi.
Almost in any post-Soviet industrial town you can do such gloomy series of pictures to point out how bad it all can be, and how ironic is that “Chiatura, my pride!” written at the mountain…
But there is also some place for sun, nice mountainous landscape and good time. Isn’t it cool that you can come home with a rope road every day? By the way, it costs only 20 tetri (about 8 euro cents).
The last point before departure to Tbilisi was a nice dinner in a very beautiful location and with great homemade food and wine. Sometimes there was even not enough place at the table 🙂
Actually I forgot to mention another personal highlight: in Katskhi I met a priest, who impressed me a lot: he was serving and communicating with those who were in church in a very joyful manner, with laughter and smile! That’s what faith is about: transmitting joy and love.
So, I also wish it to you. Stay tuned!