betania monastery

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  • Betania monastery

The Betania Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God commonly known as Betania or Bethania is a medieval Georgian Orthodox monastery in eastern Georgia, 16 km southwest of Tbilisi, the nation’s capital. It is a remarkable piece of architecture of the "Golden Age" of the Kingdom of Georgia, at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries, and is notable for its wall paintings which include a group portrait of the contemporary Georgian monarchs.

The monastery’s territory seems to have been surrounded by a massive wall, but only dismembered stones scattered in the adjacent forest have survived of it. The extant edifices are a principal domed church of the Nativity of the Mother of God (constructed at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries), a smaller hall church of St. George (1196), and a ruined tower.

The church of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a cross-in-square design with a dome and built of stone, with some external carved decoration in the eastern façade where traditional niches have multifold or scalloped tops connected to the frame of the middle window. Its high dome, slightly shifted to the east, rests upon the two westerly located freely standing pillars and ledges of the altar. The southern entrance portal is fronted by the gate roofed with a star-shaped vault. Modern scholars have surmised that the church is actually an expanded, domed and decorated version of an earlier basilica probably dating from the 10th century.

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