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Tsromi - Church of Redeemer

From the village of Agara on the M27 west of Kareli continue west on the highway until you come to the village of Gomi. Turn left at the police station eight km beyond Gomi, cross the Mtkvari River, pass through the village of Khtisi, and proceed east parallel to the Mtkvari for six km.

The Church of the Redeemer here, built in AD626-634, is the oldest of its kind in Georgia, with four free-standing columns to support the cupola; its roof has mostly been ruined by earthquakes, but it's important as the model for many churches in Georgia and far beyond. It can also apparently be reached from Gomi, at about 118 km on the main road from Gori to Khashuri and Kutaisi.

Famous as the oldest ecclesiastical building in Georgia with four free-standing pilasters supporting the dome, this early predecessor of the cruciform domed church can be dated to approximately 630. From an inscription we know that the patron of the church was Stepanoz II of Kartli, son of the ruler Adarnese who is featured in a relief on the facade of Jvari.

The architect of Tsromi managed to build a massive edifice that, despite its size, in no way betrayed his search for a harmony of line and totality of parts. The deep- set triangular niches of the east facade are particularly noteworthy. By flanking the central window of the altar apse, the architect succeeded in lightening the mass while increasing the dignity of the structure.

Earthquakes (the last one in 1940) have reduced the cupola and the majority of the vaulting to ruins, but it is still possible to see the majesty of this church and to understand the innovative solutions that came to serve as a model for domed cruciform structures well beyond Georgia's borders.