Nikortsminda Cathedral

Detailed Information

Nikortsminda Saint Nickolas cathedral built between 1010-1014 stands in the middle of a large yard coupled with a beautiful and neat bell-tower constructed in XIX c. Other buildings should also have been constructed there, but nothing of them has survived till now. Internal space of Nikortsiminda temple is composed of five radial apses and rectangular western arm. Several lateral rooms are arranged within the arm and the sanctuary. External configuration of the temple is cross shaped. This has created some kind of embarrassment – several windows have got slanted outlines, façade arcades are asymmetrical etc. It seems that decoration is the strongest point of Nikortsminda architect and truly he can easily compete with any other artist in Georgia in this regard. He creates several new elements of decoration – for instance internal parts of façade arches are adorned with decorated strips and what is the most important – a new system of comprehensive adornment of the dome barrel with fretwork and decorative belts are first invented here that had remained traditional decoration pattern till the very end of the XIII century. Perfect sculptors had been working during the construction of the temple – each detail of the ornamentation, each of its leaf and bend is performed as if it were real sculpture and this ”knitted” decoration is  naturally interwoven  with figured risings – the compositions arranged within the pediments all dedicated to the Glory of God, coupled with the images on the entrance tympanums, and figures of  wildlife cut at the bottom of the dome barrel. The porch, contemporaneous to the temple, is also richly adorned with fretwork. Nikortsminda is an outstanding monument of Georgian architecture not only for its adornment with numerous rising – perhaps no other Georgian monument can compete with it in this regard – but also for the highest artistic level of those risings, from the point of their compatibility with the architecture, their plasticity and linear rhythm – they are the very best samples of Georgian sculpture art. Nikortsminda temple has basically preserved its initial features but merciless passage of time still has laid its footprint on the monument – especially on it’s northern façade where many elements have been mixed. The monument has undergone two main rounds of reconstruction one of which took place in XVI c while another was carried out in 90-ies of the last century –  as a mitigation measure against the damages caused by  1991 earthquake. Interior of the church is fully adorned with the late-medieval wall painting. Rather high iconostasis stands in the interior. The roofed gallery arranged on top of the holly table is adorned with wall painting as well. Both the gallery and the painting are of the late Middle Ages.