Sameba Cathedral, or the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the biggest in all of Georgia.
Built in 2004, Sameba is often called the symbol of new Georgia and offers one of the best views in the city. Though the cathedral is relatively new, it is just as impressive and a marvel of modern architecture when it comes to Georgian churches.
Meaning and history:
The idea behind building the church was in celebration of 2,000 years of Christianity in Georgia and 1,500 years of autocephaly. But the history of the church goes beyond 2004.
At first, the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate and the authorities of Tbilisi announced an international competition for the design of the cathedral. Eventually, an architect by the name of Archil Mindiashvili won, but due to civil unrest and an unstable political situation Tbilisi at the time, the contest was delayed. It wasn’t until 1995 that the plans were resumed.
The goal behind the construction of Sameba was to build a symbol of Georgian Christianity and spiritual revival. It was sponsored through donations from Georgian businessmen and citizens. Finally, , on St. George’s Day 2004, the Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II and other high-ranking representatives of Orthodox churches around the world consecrated the cathedral. It was then officially declared open to the public.
What to see at Sameba Cathedral:
As the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox Cathedral in the world, Sameba square is around 5,000 square meters and can hold up to 15,000 people. The cathedral is designed in the spirit of modernism, and its architecture bears little similarity to many of the old religious traditions. The walls inside the cathedral are covered with beautiful frescoes, some of which were painted by Ilia II himself, mainly the image of the Holy Virgin which can be seen at the entrance.
Inside the church you can see a lot of Christian frescoes and icons, and some of the most important relics and icons from Georgian Christian history, such as the Jvari cross and the pearl miniature of Jerusalem.
There is a bakery in the yard of the church, where they make traditional Georgian khachapuri and original Lagidze water drinks.
The beautiful garden beside the cathedral.
Like most churches in the city, Sameba is typically open during the day from about 9am till 6pm. And there are usually choirs and liturgies on the weekends at around 9am.
Also as with most churches, women are expected to cover their heads with head scarves, which can usually be borrowed from the entrance of the church, and men are expected not to wear shorts or hats.
To fully see the cathedral, you will probably need up to an hour.
Depending on the weather, and if the sky is clear, you can visit the cathedral in the morning for a nice view of the city – or the in the evening when the most of Old Town is illuminated.
How to get there:
- Metro to Avlabari, walk from there (about 15 minutes) or grab a taxi.
- Bus to Samreklo #26.
- Marshrutka (minibus).