Tibeti (Tbeti) Cathedral & Church

Tibeti (Tbeti) Cathedral & Church

Tibeti Church, also known as Tibeti Kilisesi or The Cathedral of Tbeti, is situated approximately 15km from Savsat town in the Artvin province. The village where the church is located sits at an altitude of 1200m and is surrounded by dense forests and numerous lakes, possibly giving the area its name, Tbeti. The Georgian term for "lake district," tba-eti, supports this hypothesis.

Unfortunately, the former cathedral buildings have suffered severe damage, leaving only the ruined walls of what was once a magnificent structure that served as the central site for a culturally and intellectually productive monastic community. Tibeti Monastery was a medieval Georgian monastery located in Historical Southern Georgia, known as Tao-Klarjeti. Bagratid prince Ashot Kukhi is credited with founding the Tbeti Cathedral between 891 and 918.

Tibeti (Tbeti) Cathedral & Church

It is uncertain whether the cathedral was dedicated to Saint George or the Mother of God. Evidence for Saint George includes a series of wall paintings on the vault of the western arm, depicting him distributing his wealth to assistants and then being tied to a wheel while two executioners turned it on pikes. Based on this decoration program, it is assumed that the Tbeti Cathedral was dedicated to Saint George.

Over time, Tbeti Monastery became a significant cultural center, producing numerous hagiographical writings and becoming one of the most important centers for calligraphy and manuscript illumination. In 995, Ioane Mtbevari, a composer of religious songs and translator of Greek works into Georgian, created the Gospel of Tbeti. Bishop Samuel of Tibeti commissioned it to be decorated with miniatures in the Byzantine manuscript illumination tradition.

Until the second half of the 17th century, Tibeti Cathedral functioned as a Christian church. Later, the local population repurposed the building as a mosque, which remained in use until the late 19th century. Today, the site is an empty lot with no religious services held there.

Unfortunately, recent years have not been kind to the architectural remains of Tbeti Monastery and Cathedral. In 1961, a large part of the ceiling collapsed, along with sections on both sides of the cathedral.

No other buildings have been found outside the main church, and no further archaeological surveys have been conducted to document potential discoveries due to insufficient information obtained through excavations.