Old Shuamta

Old Shuamta Monastery is located in Kakheti, some 7 km from the town of Telavi. The architectural ensemble of three churches stands in a lonely woody area. A small church dated to V c AD – earliest of those three, is the prefect sample of the very first attempts of construction of basilicas in Georgia. Its space is not elongated towards the east-west axes that would have been natural for that type of architecture, naves are divided by a pair of arches rested on columns, with the width of the arch spans colliding with that of the entrance doors. Due to this the middle nave is perceived as a high hall, while the lateral ones connected by a doorway arranged on the west are sooner the narrow ambulatories then naves. Another church of the ensemble built in VII c is Mtskheta Holly Cross Monastery-type building, but compared to the latter, depths of apses and bems are decreased here, thus emphasizing the importance of dome barrel against the entire space of the building and its basic constructional segments. The corner rooms here have simple quadrangular configuration in contrast to that of Mtskheta monument, with cross-shaped outlines. The third church of the Old Shuamta Monastery was also build in VII c. It is a small construction crowned with the dome. Its design basically duplicates essential segments of Mtskheta Holly Cross monastery architecture and of other alike monuments – apses are arranged at all four side of the central square, corner niches are arranged as well, but corner rooms are missing here, that in other similar monuments are regarded to be the root cause for the arrangement of those niches. In this particular case they have only one aim – division of the space. All three churches are built of cobble stone and are free of any decoration but very simple “eyebrows” above the windows. Well-tempered sizes and perfect proportions are the only merits of all three monuments of the Monastery.

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