“Armenian Churches in Tbilisi, Yesterday and Today” Exhibition Opens in Georgia


An exhibition entitled “Armenian Churches in Tbilisi, Yesterday and Today” opened on December 1, 2012 at the “Hayartun” Cultural Center of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Georgia,

The exhibition isdedicated to the founders of the Armenian Church Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus.

The idea of the exhibition belongs to Varujhan Khachaturov (Jean Khach), a well known Armenian painter from Tbilisi, who died too young.

“Hayartun” Cultural Center at the Georgian-Armenian Diocese, the Union of Armenian Painters of Georgia and the National Archives of Armenia with the support of Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia are the organizers of the event.

There were 26 Armenian churches in Tbilisi until 1930, one part of them was destroyed by the Soviet authorities and the other part in the 1990s’ became Georgian. The ideological basis of the exhibition is to represent Armenian churches in Tbilisi working until 1990s’, but nowadays destructed, not working or made Georgian. The paintings of Armenian and Georgian artists from Tbilisi and other regions participated in the exhibition.

Sergo Vardosanidze, professor and rector of the St. Andrew University at the Georgian Patriarchate, and sheikh Vagif Akperov, the leader of Muslims Department in Georgia, were the guests of honor at the exhibition. The event was attended by poet and translator Givi Shakhnazari, Van Baiburtian, Advisor to the President of Georgia and the editor of “Vrastan” (“Georgia”), Henry Muradyan, Chairman of the Union of Armenians in Georgia, representatives of Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to Georgia, intellectuals, artists and ordinary citizens.

At the beginning of the event Levon Chidilyan, Coordinator of the “Hayartun” Cultural Center, noted that the exhibition presented works of 15 artists that showed all of the 26 previously existing historic Armenian churches in Tbilisi.

Merujan Shaumyan, Chairman of the Union of Armenian Painters of Georgia, presented a detailed account about the history of the Armenian churches in Tbilisi; some of them are partially or completely destroyed, confiscated and not returned to rightful owner. He recalled Church of the Red Gospel and Saint Gevorg of Mughni Church being in ruins, and Church of the Holy Seal the belfry of which had collapsed.

The historian Yenok Tadevosyan represented the history of the Armenian community and Armenian churches in Tbilisi.

Director of the National Archives of Armenia Amatuni Virabyan spoke about the scientific work that archivists had to spend in order to restore the history of Armenian churches in Tbilisi. He also introduced a delegation from Yerevan that included Samvel Muradian, head of Cultural Relations of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, Sonya Mirzoyan, deputy director of the National Archives of Armenia, and researcher, Ph.D. in History Gohar Avakyan.

After that Beka Mindiashvili, the head of Georgian Public Defender’s Office, famous artist Giovanni Vepkhvadze, and an archaeologist Sarkis Darchinyan said in their speech that respect for the protection of religious monuments is the responsibility of the government of every civilized and democratic state.

The leader of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Georgia, His Grace Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan praised and blessed everyone who helped to materialize the idea of organizing the exhibition. According to the head of the Diocese, Armenians living in Georgia always praised the government and the people of Georgia. But we Armenians also have the right to demand from the Georgian authorities to provide a solution for the issue of six Armenian churches, confiscated during the Soviet period and inactive today. (Five of these temples are located in Tbilisi and one in Akhaltsikhe.)

The head of the Diocese thanked monuments specialist Samvel Karapetyan for publishing a series of booklets in three languages about Armenian churches in Tbilisi. At the end of the exhibition 150 slides about Church of the Holy Seal were shown and leaflets were distributed to the public.

The exhibition will run until December 10, 2012.

Press Service of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese