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Гагрский храм Пицундский собор Лыхненский храм Каманский храм Михайловский храм Новый Афон Сухумский собор Драндский собор Моквский собор Бедийский собор Илорский храм

Temple of Ilory

In the eastern outskirts of Ochamchira Town in the Ilory village there is a functioning ancient and white stoned temple of Ilory patronized by St. George. This temple has its one hall available with an inner semicircular altar. The principal premises with stone arched vault are supported by massive abutments projected from the walls and illuminated through five windows. The outer walls' masonry includes several plates depicting carved cross. The temple stands out among such churches' halls of Abkhazia by its elaborated architectural forms and artistic and construction methods approved in the first half of the II century A.D. Its massive proportions, slim volumes and usage of technical solutions dictated by the conditions of disposition should bring it together with general architecture forms of the ancient Georgia .

A folk legend says about some reasons for constructing the Ilory temple in such manner as follows: «A certain local prince hunted and wounded the deer in the forest. The animal concealed in the bushes when the hunter was persecuting it by footsteps towards the wreck of an ancient shrine. The prince saw how the stricken deer laid its head onto holy table with the tallest cross in the altar and realized that this deer had been patronized by St. George himself. So the prince has abandoned its victim ordering to erect a temple in honor of this saint on site».

As evidenced by Archangelo Lamberti, the Italian missionary visited the Ilory temple in the first half of the seventeenth century and Castell, another Italian Catholic missionary long since the Middle Ages close to the temple of Ilory some large fairs were arranged and many residents of the Abejoy Abkhazia and other regions of the West Georgia brought its agricultural products and handicraftsmen's goods there. Such a vivid scene of lively market near the Ilory temple is seen on the Castell's drawing.

Under the Turkish yoke the temple of Ilory as well as many other Abkhazian churches suffered severely from fire hazard. In the middle of the nineteenth century it was repaired and covered with iron when its outer and inner walls were plastered preserving some inscriptions in “asomtavruli” script and reliefs of the temple facade. Some ecclesiastic has survived in the temple.

In the twentieth century the temple of Ilory was the main pilgrimage center of the residents of the West Georgia and Abkhazia and nowadays it continues to exist and to operate in the same manner as well.

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