Surb Gevorg Church Reopens after Three Year Renovation

The first phase of the program ‘Church Complex’, created by Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) has been completed. In the framework of this program, the Surb Gevorg Armenian Church (St. George) which is considered as one of the oldest churches in Tbilisi reopened its doors after three years of reconstruction on October 31. The opening was preceded by several important cultural and diplomatic meetings. A number of top-ranking people, such as Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and former Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili attended the opening ceremony.

The Surb Gevorg Cathedral Church is one of Tbilisi’s oldest churches, built in 1251. Over the course of its history, the church has repeatedly experienced deprivation, destruction and fire, while always being restored and reborn. For centuries, it was the main temple of the Armenian community of the city and now it is the Cathedral Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia.

“The Surb Gevorg Church has preserved and protected the written word and spiritual music emanating from the depths of centuries and entire art forms since the day of its foundation,” said the leader of the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan. “It has supplied spiritual nourishment to its sons, and with motherly care has united around itself Armenians. And today the Church, restored with its priceless frescoes and spiritual significance, becomes a reborn pearl both in the heart of the Armenian community and in Tbilisi, an enrichment to the multinational and multi-confessional city.”

Discussions about the church’s reconstruction took place over a long period, but the project finally started in 2012. The reconstruction involved specialists from both Armenia and Georgia. During the entire period of the reconstruction, the project was supported by both ministries of culture. Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, Mikheil Giorgadze, and his Armenian colleague Hasmik Poghosyan highlighted the importance of the Surb Gevorg Church in the cultural and historical relations between the two countries. Moreover, last week the ministers signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of culture in 2016-2018.

“This memorandum will include close cooperation is theatrical, film, fine arts, literary, and cultural heritage areas. Experts and especially young professionals from Georgia and Armenia will be actively involved in the work,” said Minister Giorgadze.

Along with the official meetings between ministers and the presidents of the two countries, Armenian composer Marine Ales with Armenian musicians held a concert ‘One of you’ in the Marjanishvili State Drama Theatre in Tbilisi.

The Surb Gevorg Cathedral Church was restored solely through charitable donations. The overall cost of the church restoration project totals 3.5 million USD. The main donors of the project are the Vardanyan family, Sergei Sarkisov and Rusudan Makhashvili, and Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“The Armenian Church has always been not only a spiritual, but also an educational, cultural and enlightening center, especially for Armenians living far from their historical homeland,” said Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founder of IDeA Foundation. “With the restoration of the Surb Gevorg Church, we have completed the first phase of the program ‘Church Complex’. Our plans call for continuing work and the creation at the church of a cultural-educational center,” he added.

According to the Sergey Tantushyan, Deputy CEO of IDeA Foundation, the cultural-educational center will be opened next to the church and will be free of charge to all, and not only for Armenian citizens. It is already known that the complex will include a concert hall, workshops for fresco restoration, a Sunday school, and museum of archaeological finds.

In addition, organizers claim that the cultural-educational center will include a branch of Tumo Center for Creative Technologies. The Center will be available for students ages 12-18 where they will have access to the tools and resources to develop skills in art technology, web design, robotics, animation, film and much more. The Center will also operate free of charge.nd

Eka Karsaulidze

05 November 2015 22:55