The Ikorta Church of the Archangel
(Wikipedia): The Ikorta church of the Archangel, commonly known as Ikorta (იკორთა) is a 12th-century Georgian Orthodox church located at the outskirts of the village Ikort’a in Shida Kartli region of eastern Georgia. The church was originally a part of Ikorta castle, from which only the citadel and the church remain.
The Ikorta temple is currently located in territory occupied by Russia.
The leaders of the Kakhetian uprising of 1659, Bidzina Cholokashvili, Elizbar and Shalva Eristavi, are buried in the Ikorta Cathedral. They were tortured to death in Iran, and several years later, their remains were secretly transported to the temple of Ikorta.
According to sitting archimandrite Vakhushti Bagrationi, “This is with a window of Mount Orbodzli, inside the mountain slope of Ikorta, the monastery is large, domed, well built, a good place." In the early 19th century, after Georgia joined Russia, many monasteries were abolished. In 1811, the Ikorta monastery also became an ordinary village church. There had to be a refectory, a priest's residence, monks' quarters, ancillary buildings, a fence and much more around the church for monasteries built in the 12th century; unfortunately, even traces of these buildings are nowhere to be seen.
At present, only the ruins of later buildings remain around the monument. As follows from historical sources, the monastery belonged to the Xan Eristavs from the late centuries. They even turned it into a stronghold. Around the church there is a fence with rectangular towers in the eastern corners. To the west, on a hill, there was a rather complex citadel. Nothing remains of the fence, only the ruins of the southeastern tower - 4-5 meters high. The citadel is badly damaged. Historical sources have not preserved any information about the creation of the Ikorta monastery or the construction of this temple. The only mention of the building survived within the walls of the monument itself. There were several inscriptions on the walls of the church, one of them with a date - on the right side of the western facade, at the gate. M. Brose saw this inscription in 1848, and a few decades later saw the same inscription in Jordan. Secondly, the inscription with the names of the founders is well preserved; it is located under the horizontal shoulders of the decorative cross on the eastern facade. The first inscription gives the date of construction of Ikorta - 1172.
The author of the "Monument to Eristavta" provides interesting information about further history of the temple: "Then the great throne of Ikorta, the Archangel Micheles, was demolished, and they began to build it." The author does not report the reason for the demolition of the temple; the restoration work was carried out by John Ksani Eristavi. The chronicle does not indicate the exact date, but it seems that it happened in the second half of the 14th century.
Inspection of the monument shows that the renovation at that time was likely not large-scale. A later reference to the temple is again provided by an inscription on the wall. As M. Brose notes, new construction began in 1672 during the reign of King Shah Nawaz (1658 - 1675). Judging by the inscription, Yase Ksani Eristavi did a great job. His hand also touched the temple and enriched the ensemble with monastery buildings. To date, none of these buildings have survived. The bell tower was converted in 1739 by an enemy army that entered Saeristavo. The temple fence was also demolished at the end of the 18th century. King George XII wrote about this to his son John in 1800: "The head of the Ikorta monastery will not leave the church lands to the neighbors of the Chivi monastery. I told them to go to the house of the Sahasian peasants, because this is their shrine." What was done as a result of this order is unknown. In addition to the above passages, there are no other historical references on Ikorta. Also noteworthy is the fact that in recent centuries the anchorites were a noble crypt. Elizbar and Shalva Eristavi, and Bidzina Cholokashvili, who sacrificed themselves to Georgia, are buried here. It is known that two years later the leaders of the Kakheti uprising of 1659 were tortured to death in Iran. Subsequently, after some time had passed, their remains were secretly recovered and buried in the temple of Ikorta.
After the August 2008 events (the Russian-Georgian war), the village of Ikorta also became part of the territory occupied by Russia.
The central domed temple of Ikorta is enclosed in an elongated rectangle, with entrance only from the west and south. The interior space is quite complex. The dome rests on the slopes of the eastern sanctuary and pylons to the west. The dome contains 12 arched roof windows spaced at regular intervals. The main space of the temple is formed by walls erected in the form of a cross. To the east of the coats of arms of the cross is the apse; the other sides are rectangular. The apse ends in a shell, but the rest of the beams are overlapped by arches. Above the sacristy are the so-called caches, and the pentagonal design of these vaults repeats the outlines. On the lower floor, the boats are covered with two transverse arches, and on the upper, cylindrical arches. The interior decoration of the church, in addition to the dome windows, is illuminated by the windows located in the arms of the cross. The inner walls of the temple were intended for painting; therefore, hewn stone was used only in critical places (on capitals, etc.), and the bulk of the walls were erected from flat stone and brick. The walls at one time were covered with frescoes, but over time they were badly damaged. Even the restored part has been preserved fragmentarily.
Sections outside the temple have lost their integrity over the centuries. The only Western Gate, which brings dissonance to the overall ensemble, clearly seems late. The arched system is the main decoration element of all four facades of the Ikorta temple. Each side has individual niches and personality. The western facade is better decorated.
The finishing cornice of the lower building has been restored to its original form. A very small fragment of a carved cornice has been preserved on the southern, northern and western pediments.
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