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Temple of Gagra

The temple of protection of the Holy Virgin in Gagra is one of the oldest cult constructions within territory of Abkhazia.

This temple in Old Gagra on the bank of Joevara river features with its plainest composition inside of the ancient citadel. It was significantly repaired in the nineteenth century (its ancient masonry is characterized by squared stones of not quite regular shape and is bound by its lime mortar mixed with a large volume of small and large sea sand) but nevertheless securing its ancient appearance. The structure of small size consists of several elongated “halls” next to each other while the northern hall is slightly shorter than two others. The northern and middle premises from the east side end up with its apses to be inserted into the outer rectangle. These three vaulted halls are connected in-between by its doors in the longitudinal walls. Apart from it, the central hall has one more west door available. The principal entry is located in the south wall of the temple (no doubt that the west door of the northern “temple” is not original). The Gagra temple does not stand out by its specific artistic features but at the same time it is extremely important in respective historical terms. This construction refers to the oldest images of “three ecclesiastic basilicae” by virtue of its simple structure and correlated parts while the middle “temple” is outlined against a background slightly only. The early period of the construction may be indicated also by such its feature as not fragmented flat longitudinal interior walls as well as the cross of the west tympanum and, most essentially, the masonry type similar to the same in the Gagra fortress whereof its construction period to be identified as per relevant written sources. All this data enable to refer this temple to the 6 th century.

The path made of large stones polished perfectly by thousands feet and lime plates leads to the temple entry. The path is planted with tall cypresses as a shadowy alley. Indoors under semi-darkness there are naked walls of the plates having its roughly finished surface which make some austere appearance. Its power and simplicity, massive pillars and rood screen arch decorated laconically by a relief cross on the top, low wide door was as if some remainder about any rigorous quiescent people prayed and officiated here.

The temple of Gagra relates to the name of Reverend and St. Hipathius of the Abkhazian church (of the Zvanba family clan).

At present this temple does not function and inaccessible for any worshippers.

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