The cultural and historical heritages that Abkhazia can certainly be proud of
Abkhazia is my land
Within steep hills to be laid
And by a vivid sunshine being whelmed…
Such loftly skies above are not obscured.
The Temple of Assumption of the Mother of God in Lykhny
The Lyhkny Temple on the outskirts of the clearing Lyhnashta in Lyhkny village was built in X-XI centuries. Nowadays the building of the temple, a stone fence and the interior is well preserved.
Lykhny Temple is a cross-domed three-apsed edifice, so widely spread in the medieval Abkhazia; the austerity of its forms, the purity and harmony of proportions, testifying to the great skill of the architects. This temple is considered to be a masterpiece of architecture; this is the only temple in the Black Sea Coast, which has been preserved in its original form, with a roof of tiles.
The walls are made of hewn limestone blocks and bricks on strong mortar. The flooring is covered with water-proof plaster. At the present time, over a tiled roof of the temple erected a canopy that protects the temple from natural influences and the Temple is under reconstruction.
Quite impressive is the rich interior wall-painting of the XIV century. In the upper part of the central apse, there is the Blessed Mother of God sitting with Her Child on the throne with two angels along-side, a composition of the Eucharist in two variants, a scene with the women at the Holy Sepulchre, and the meeting of two women with the Resurrected Christ. In the middle tier of the same apse, there is a scene of Abraham's sacrifice, images of the angels and Saints. In the lower tier- the figures of Saints ( Sts.Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian). On the western wall, there are fragments of Assumption of the Mother of God and the Transfer of the Belt to St. Apostle Thomas.
On the pillars and pilasters, images of the Jesus the Christ, the Mother of God, St. John the Baptist, St. Apostle Joan and other Saints are represented. Outside, above the door of the southern side-altar, is portrayed the Blessed Virgin Mary, with two angels behind.
In the picturesque area hidden by thickets of numerous trees stands 10 th– 11 th -century Bedia Cathedral constructed in the honor of Vlakhern Mother of God by Abkhazian tsar Bagrat III. The cathedral was one of the best at the time. Its Greek-cross design is complemented with semicircular altar by juts. The central hall is separated from the side ones by arch columns.
The temple decor as well as of other cult structures is very modest. From the outside and inside the temple the walls are smoothly tiled. Only one of the walls was decorated by a big carved cross from outside. The windows fringing is decorated with by carved ornamental patterns. The walls inside the temple were covered by rich paintings the fragments of which are still visible.
Bagrat III was buried there in 1014. In the second half of the17th century the masses in the cathedral were stopped and were renewed in the second half of the 19 th century. Now the restoration works are underway in the Cathedral.
The cathedral, consecrated in the name of St. Andrew the Apostle, was built in late 10th-early 11th century and had served as the cathedral church for Abkhazia's bishops. It is a cross-domed cathedral with three naves and three apses, shaped as a rectangle with extending semicircular apses. The cathedral is notable for its impressive size, reaching 29 m high (including the dome), 37 m long and 25 m wide; the walls are up to 1.5 m thick. The building rests on heavy slabs of grey sandstone; the walls are made up of alternating rows of stone and brickwork, a typical technique for late Byzantine architecture. The spaces between the tall narrow windows underneath the dome were initially covered with frescoes of the twelve Apostles. Fragments of ten frescoes survive to this day.
Inside the cathedral, there is no architectural décor; its beauty is in its proportions that create a space filled with air and light. In the west end of the narthex, there is a small shrine with the tombs of St. Andrew the Apostle and Simon the Zealot.
In the late 1800s, it was renovated in the name of the Repose of the Virgin Mary, and made part of the New Athos monastery.
The cathedral's remarkable acoustics and pipe organ (installed in 1975) make it a popular site for classical music concerts.
In the eastern outskirts of Ochamchira town in the Ilor village there is a functioning ancient and white stoned temple of Ilor 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.
A folk legend says about some reasons for constructing the Ilor 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».
In the twentieth century the temple of Ilor 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.