Bagrati Cathedral


Kutaisi's cathedral was built in 1003 by Bagrat III, with a tall drum and pointed dome resting on four freestanding pillars. In 1692 a Turkish explosion brought down drum, dome and ceiling to leave the cathedral in a ruined state. It was fully renovated between 2009 and 2012, with a mix of old and new stone and a few steel sections.

The cathedral gained Unesco World Heritage listing in 1994 following intermittent restoration efforts through the 20th century. Ironically, the 21st-century renovation put it on Unesco's World Heritage in Danger list, due to threats to the ‘integrity and authenticity of the site’, a status that has been removed with the redrawing of the boundaries of the heritage site, which now exclude the cathedral itself, and include only the Gelati Monastery, 8km outside the city.

The palace-citadel immediately east of the cathedral dates back to the 6th century. It was wrecked in 1769 during Georgian-Russo-Turkish wars, but you can discern remains of wine cellars and a church.

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Nearby Kutaisi attractions

1. Palace-citadel

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The ruined palace-citadel immediately east of the Bagrati Cathedral dates back to the 6th century. It was ruined in 1769 by bombardment from the forces of…

3. Market

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Kutaisi's indoor produce market is one of the largest, liveliest and most colourful in Georgia, full of cheese, walnuts, spices, herbs, fruit, vegetables,…

4. Colchis Fountain

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5. Opera House

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Kutaisi's opera house has been renovated with lines of classical statues, inspired by its famous Vienna counterpart, adorning it.

6. Kutaisi Historical Museum

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The history museum has superb collections from all around western Georgia, but a guided tour is a good idea as labelling is poor. The highlight is the…

7. Motsameta Monastery

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Little Motsameta sits on a spectacular clifftop promontory above a bend of the Tskhaltsitela River, 5km from Kutaisi, 1.8km off the Gelati road. The river…

8. Sataplia Nature Reserve

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The star features of the 3.3-sq-km reserve, 9km northwest of Kutaisi, are a couple of dozen 120-million-year-old, fossilised dinosaur footprints (well…