Dadiani Palace in Zugdidi Finishes Renovations

The Dadiani Palace complex in Samegrelo, in the city of Zugdidi, is one of Georgia’s most beautiful examples of 19th century architecture, and one of the few historical buildings in good condition outside the capital. The palace complex has finally completed a major renovation that began in 2015 and in September will reopen to the public with the new addition of a museum. Before renovation works began, the complex was in danger of losing its structural integrity.

Dadiani Palace was the home of the final ruling family of the Principality of Samegrelo, whose reign ended in 1857 when Russian Imperial rule began. The complex was built primarily by Russian architect Leonid Vassilyev. It includes the palace of Ekaterine Chavchavadze-Dadiani, the last queen of Samegrelo, a residence for her son Niko Dadiani, a monastery, and a large garden which is now the Zugdidi Botanical Gardens. The main palace is home to the largest royal ballroom in Georgia. Construction on the queen’s palace began in 1873 following a design attributed to Edwig Jacob Rice. This is the best-known surviving structure built under the Dadianis’ royal patronage. It was built in the neogothic style on a monumental scale. Its outline resembles an English castle with oriental features. The palace’s lavish interior design melds Georgian, Russian, and Parisian styles.

In its day, the Queen’s Palace was not only the chief residence of Prince Niko and the Queen, but also the site of one of the finest libraries in Georgia, a museum, and a military office. It housed valuable artworks and historical, archaeological, and paleographic objects.

Before the 2015 renovations began, the conditions were so bad that some buildings in the complex were closed to visitors due to a danger of collapse. The renovations were financed by Georgia’s Cultural Heritage Agency at a cost of approximately GEL 2 million (USD 816,000) and focused mainly on the Niko Dadiani Palace, reinforcing the building, replacing the roof, and installing modern air conditioning and heating systems. The palace’s original doors and windows were also preserved. The next stage of renovations will focus on restoring the main place of Queen Ekaterine Chavchavadze-Dadiani.

The new Zugdidi State Museum of History and Ethnography will be located in the Niko Dadiani Palace and will include collections ranging from as far back as the Bronze Age to the late 19th century. The museum will also contain significant items from the Dadiani royal family.

The Dadiani family had connections with European noble families, and hosted distinguished historical figures including pacifist and novelist Bertha von Suttner, the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. For more information on the House of Dadiani, visit the website created by the Smithsonian Institution in collaboration with the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia.

The Zugdidi Botanical Garden has also undergone renovations, financed by the National Agency for Cultural heritage Preservation and the Cartu Foundation.

By Samantha Guthrie

03 July 2018 16:10