Sataplia Nature Reserve, Gelati and Bagrati
Our second day in Georgia was filled with many attractions. First, we visited the Sataplia Cave in the Sataplia Nature Reserve.
The Sataplia Nature Reserve was established in 1935 to protect the Cave, dinosaur footprints found in the area and the Colchic Forest with its beech trees:
Next we visited Gelati Monastery and Bagrati Cathedral:
The monastery of Gelati, near Kutaisi, is one of the most beautiful spots in Georgia. It belongs to the Georgian Orthodox Church.
It is a complex of three churches. The most important and impressive one is the great Cathedral of the Virgin, built by King David the Builder in 1106-25.
The most venerated Georgian saint is Saint Nino. In iconography, she is presented with the grapevine cross, also known as the Georgian cross.
The story of Saint Nino
Saint Nino is the historical figure to whom the 4th-century Christian conversion of Iveria (eastern Georgia) can be attributed. She is believed to have hailed from Cappadocia in Turkey and a widespread version has it that she was the daughter of a Roman general, raised in Jerusalem under the eye of an uncle who was the Christian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and at the age of 14 she experienced the Virgin telling her that her destiny was to convert the Iverians to Christianity. Coming to Iveria in the 320s Nino gained a royal convert at Mtskheta when her prayers were deemed to have saved Queen Nana of Iveria from serious illness. Then King Mirian was struck blind while hunting, only for his sight to be miraculously restored after he prayed to the Christian God – leading to mass baptism in the Aragvi River for the people of Mtskheta. Mirian made Christianity Iveria’s official religion in about 327. The vine-branch cross that the Virgin is believed to have given Nino and which Nino later bound with her own hair is kept at Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi. She remains Georgia’s most venerated saint, and is buried at Bodbe Convent in Kakheti.
Source: Lonely Planet Guide, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, 2016
Saint Nino cross:
Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi:
Our last attraction of the day was drinking wine from a khantsi, a traditional Georgian drinking horn. The horn is passed from one person to another, everyone drinks from it until there is no wine left, otherwise it will be spilled on the table.