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The Shio-Mgvime monastery (Georgian: შიომღვიმე, Shiomghvime, literally meaning “the cave of Shio”) is a medieval monastic complex in Georgia, near the town of Mtskheta. It is located in a narrow limestone canyon on the northern bank of the Kura River, some 30 km from Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.

Photos taken on April, 18, 2017.

We chose the trail to the monastery by a mountain trail, it’s about 6,5 km of the way. Where was 2,2 km just go up. That was great! We were able to see nature and fauna and flora. We began our journey from Dzegvi village and went along the trail. We were guided by GPS. There’s an approaching thunderstorm that worried us. Alleluia! The thunderstorm passed us by. We did’t want to meet a thunderstorm in the mountains Is it dangerous. Especially, there were high voltage lines nearby.
Of course we saw landslides. Especially, up to this point there was an earthquake. There was a wind. We heard the whispering mountains.

The way from Dzegvi to the monastery. Big map. The way from Dzegvi to the monastery. Small map.

We were afraid to meet poisonous snakes. But we met only turtles. They are so sweet. They had a wedding season. 🙂

We reached the monastery. Monastery was covered with mystery and history.  I just got down on my knees there. The monastery is very interesting! If  we again go to Georgia, I will return to the monastery in the same way.

There was difficult to return to Tbilisi. Thank God, a random tourists agreed to take us to the nearest village. There we boarded a bus to Tbilisi.

We were lucky. Otherwise us had to walk to Dzegvi or spend the night in the mountains. It was 7 o’clock in the evening. The nights there were expected to be cold. Perspective was not fun. Because we did not have any equipment to survive in the wild. In the backpack we had two sandwiches and a bottle of water…. and Geogian wine, the wine was untouched, the mountains do not like wine if you are active in this moment. You must be careful!

p.s. Of course, there was a time when we lost hope of reaching the monastery, because we got seriously lost. But I remembered that Santa Maria was near and I found a new breath and way was near.  It gave me confidence.  Now I can be a guide in these places. 😉

 

  • The Shio-Mgvime complex

According to a historic tradition, the first monastic community at this place was founded by the 6th-century monk Shio, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers who came to Georgia as Christian missionaries. St. Shio is said to have spent his last years as a hermit in a deep cave near Mtskheta subsequently named Shiomghvime (“the Cave of Shio”) after him. The earliest building – the Monastery of St. John the Baptist – a cruciform church, very plain and strict in its design, indeed dates to that time, c. 560s-580s, and the caves curved by monks are still visible around the monastery and along the road leading to the complex. The church has an octagonal dome covered with a conic floor and once housed a masterfully ornate stone iconostasis which is now on display at the Art Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi. The monastery was somewhat altered in the 11th and 18th centuries, but has largely retained its original architecture.

The Upper Church (zemo eklesia) named after the Theotokos is a central part of the Shio-Mgvime complex constructed at the verge of the 12th century at the behest of King David IV of Georgia. Initially a domed church, it was subsequently destroyed by a foreign invasion and restored, in 1678, as a basilica. A refectory was built between the 12th and 17th centuries and directly communicates with the Cave of St. Shio. A 12th-century small chapel adorned with medieval murals stands separately on a nearby hill.

An archaeological expedition revealed, in 1937, a 2 km long aqueduct supplying the monastic communities from the nearby village of Skhaltba, and chronicled in 1202 as being constructed by Bishop Anton of Chkondidi, a minister at Queen Thamar’s court.

  • History

Shio-Mgvime quickly turned into the largest monastic community in Georgia and by the end of the 6th century it was populated by as many as 2,000 monks. It became a vibrant center of cultural and religious activities and remained under the personal patronage of Catholicoi of Georgia. David IV “the Builder” (1089-1125) made it a royal domain and dictated regulations (typicon) for the monastery (1123). The downfall of the medieval Georgian kingdom and incessant foreign invasions resulted in the decline of the monastery. It saw a relative revival when the Georgian king George VIII (r. 1446-1465) granted Shio-Mgvime and its lands to the noble family of Zevdginidze-Amilakhvari to whom the monastery served as a familial burial ground up to the 1810s.

The monastery was ravaged by the invading Persian troops sent by Shah Abbas I of Safavid in 1614-6. Prince Givi Amilakhvari reconstructed it in 1678, but the 1720s Ottoman occupation of Georgia brought about another devastation and depopulation of Shio-Mgvime. Restored by Prince Givi Amilakhvari in 1733, the monastery was raided and the monks massacred by the Persians less than two years later. Subsequently, Shio-Mgvime was restored and its interior renovated in the 19th century, but it never regained its past importance and role in the spiritual life of Georgia. Under Bolshevik rule, the monastery was closed, but it is now functional and attracts many pilgrims and tourists.

 

wikipedia.org

 

Today Tabgha (also spelled Tabhka) is village, but a small area on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, not far from Capernaum. There lies the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, the traditional site of the food multiplication story found in all four gospels (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:5-15). It is also where Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection (John 21:1-17).

The church is most famous for a mosaic of loaves and fishes from the original mid-third century church. The church was expanded in the fifth century, but soon after destroyed by the Persians when they invaded in 614. The Byzantine structures and mosaics were excavated in the 1930s by a German team. In 1982, the current reconstruction was added. The original mosaics depict water birds and plants, ecology of the marshy swamps typical of the area historically.

The name Tabgha is a variation on its ancient Greek name, Heptapegon, meaning “seven springs.” Six of these springs have been identified in modern times, including one known as “Job’s Spring.”

This was probably the shrine described by the pilgrim Egeria at the end of the 4th century:

“In the same place facing the Sea of Galilee is a well watered land in which lush grasses grow, with numerous trees and palms. Nearby are seven springs which provide abundant water. In this fruitful garden Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish.”

This pictures have been taken on 27 of September, 2011.
This photo gallery is as Israel Travel Photo Guide.

wikipedia.org

 

The Mount of Beatitudes (also traditionally known as the Mount Eremos) stands serenely near the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee and Tabgha. It is the only definable mountain that is in close proximity to the Evangelical Triangle, that area in which Jesus conducted most of his ministry. The Triangle was the area falling between the cities of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. The Mount of Beatitudes is the likely spot where Jesus sat down and gave the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12.

Although there is discrepancy between Matthew’s version being on a hill and Luke’s being on a level place is easily reconciled with observation of many level places on the Galilean hillsides. Scripture gives no indication of the exact location of this event, but the Byzantines built a church to commemorate it at the bottom of the hill.

Today the mount is adorned with a lovely Roman Catholic church built in 1937 by the Franciscan Sisters with the support of the Italian ruler Mussolini. The building which was constructed by the noted architect Antonio Barluzzi is full of numerical symbolism. In front of the church, the symbols on the pavement represent Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, Charity, Faith and Temperance. Inside the church hangs the cloak from Pope Paul VI’s visit in 1964.

The church grounds have an abundance of beautiful flowers and a breathtaking view of the Sea of Galilee as well. Scattered throughout the grounds are plaques reminding the visitor of each Beatitude.

See photos of Mount of Beatitudes in this travel photo gallery from Verde Wanderer. This pictures have been taken on 27 of September, 2011.

wikipedia.org

 

Capernaum is an ancient fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It’s home to a celebrated Byzantine-era synagogue as well as the house where Jesus healed a paralytic and St. Peter’s mother-in-law.

Capernaum is frequently mentioned in the Gospels and was Jesus’ main base during his Galilean ministry. It is referred to as Jesus’ “own city” (Mt 9:1; Mk 2:1) and a place where he lived (Mt 1:13). He probably chose it simply because it was the home of his first converts, Peter and Andrew (Mk 1:21, 29).

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law…

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up.” (Mark 1:21-22, 29-30)

Many familiar Gospel events occurred in this village. Capernaum is where Jesus first began to preach after the Temptation in the wilderness (Mt 1:12-17) and called Levi from his tax-collector’s booth (Mk 2:13-17). It was while teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum that he said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn 6:54)

Capernaum is where Jesus healed a centurion’s servant without even seeing him (Mt 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10), Peter’s mother-in-law (Mt 8:14-15; Mk 1:29-30); the paralytic who was lowered thorugh the roof (Mk 2:1-12), and many others who were brought to him (Mt 8:16-17). And it was Capernaum that Jesus had set out from when he calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mt 8:23-27).

Jesus was harsh with his adopted home when it proved unrepentent despite his many miracles. “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you” (Mt 11:23-24).

Capernaum was a Jewish village in the time of the Christ. It was apparently poor, since it was a Gentile centurion that built the community’s synagogue (Luke 7:5). The houses were humble and built of the local black basalt stone.

Christian presence is attested early in Capernaum and the village was predominantly Christian by the 4th century AD. Rabbinic texts from the 4th century imply considerable tension between the Jewish and Christian communities of the town.

Both the church and synagogue were destroyed prior to the Islamic conquest in 638. One possible scenario is that the Persian invasion of 614 gave the Jews the opportunity to act on their resentment of the now-powerful Christian community and demolish the church. In 629, the Byzantine emperor and his troops marched into Palestine, and under this protection the Christians may have destroyed the synagogue.

The synagogue of Capernaum is located just inland from the shore with its facade facing Jerusalem. It has been difficult to date, with scholarly opinion ranging from the 2nd to 5th centuries. It stands on an elevated position, was richly decorated and was built of imported white limestone, which would have contrasted dramatically with the local black basalt of the rest of the village. All of this would have given the building great beauty and status.

What to See? The ruined synagogue and the Greek Orthodox church stand quite close to each other near the shore, with ruins of 1st-to-6th-century houses in between. Also on the place are finely carved stones that belong to the synagogue, and a new Greek Orthodox church nearby.

Around the Greek Orthodox church the remains of the village have not yet been excavated, unlike the synagogue of Capernaum and the buildings around it.

This pictures have been taken on 27 of September, 2011.
This photo gallery is as Israel Travel Photo Guide.

wikipedia.org

Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is the world’s largest flower garden. It is situated near Lisse, Netherlands. According to the official website for the Keukenhof Park, approximately 7,000,000 (seven million) flower bulbs are planted annually in the park, which covers an area of 32 hectares.

It is accessible by bus from the train stations of Haarlem, Leiden and Schiphol. It is located in an area called the “Dune and Bulb Region” (Duin- en Bollenstreek).

Keukenhof is open annually from mid-March to mid-May. The best time to view the tulips is around mid-April, depending on the weather.
OPENING HOURS: 8H00 – 19H30 (ticket office closes at 18H00).

wikipedia.org

Pictures taken in 16 of April, 2013.