The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi commonly known as Sameba is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church located in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Constructed between 1995 and 2004 Construction of Sameba Cathedral was timed to the 2000th anniversary of Christianity and 1500th anniversary of the independence of the Georgian church. The construction of the cathedral was decided in 1989 but it started only on 23 November 1995. The first divine service in cathedral was held on 25 December 2002 during the construction works that finally ended in 2004, it is the highest church in Georgia (101m high) and third-tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world and one of the largest religious buildings in the world by total area For comparison, before Sameba, the Alaverdi Cathedral in Kakheti was considered the tallest, with about 50m in height.
Sameba is a synthesis of traditional styles dominating the Georgian church architecture at various stages in history and has some Byzantine undertones. The Sameba Cathedral is erected on the Elia Hill, which rises above the left bank of the Kura River (Mtkvari) in the historic neighbourhood of Avlabari in Old Tbilisi.
Designed in a traditional Georgian style but with a greater vertical emphasis, and "regarded as an eyesore by many people, it is equally venerated by as many others”. The Cathedral has a cruciform plan with a dome over a crossing resting on eight columns. At the same time, the parameter of the dome is independent of the apses, imparting a more monumental look to the dome and the church in general. The dome is surmounted by a 7.5-meter tall gilded gold cross. Its golden dome is practically seen from any point in Tbilisi.
The cathedral consists of nine chapels (chapels of the Archangels, John the Baptist, Saint Nino, Saint George, Saint Nicholas, the Twelve Apostles, and All Saints); five of them are situated in a large, underground compartment. The overall area of the cathedral, including its large narthex, is 5,000 square meters and the volume it occupies is 137,000 cubic meters. The interior of the church nave measures 56 meters by 44 meters, with an interior area of 2,380 square meters and can place up to 15,000 people. The foundation of the cathedral was done according to all traditions: pieces from holy spots were placed in its basement-like rocks from the Sion Mountain and the Jordan River, soil from Jerusalem, and the tomb of St. George.
The Patriarch and the President have laid the memorial nameplates too. Bells for the cathedral were cast in Germany. There are nine of them, and the biggest weighs 8,000 kg, Natural materials are used for construction. The floor is made of marble tiles and the altar will also be decorated with mosaic. The Sameba complex, the construction of which is already completed, consists of the main cathedral church, a free-standing bell-tower, the residence of the Patriarch, a monastery, a clerical seminary, and theological academy, several workshops, places for rest, etc.
The cathedral is designed in the spirit of modernism, and its architecture has little similarities with old traditions. Faces of the cathedral are done exquisitely with arches and unique fretwork. There are beautiful frescoes created under the supervision of the icon painter Amiran Goglidze on the walls of the Sameba Cathedral. Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II also took part in painting works of the Tsminda Sameba Cathedral; he painted several icons and a big image of the Holy Virgin that can be seen at the entrance. There are two floors under the ground; on the second floor, there are museums and conference hall.
This breathtaking cathedral is very important for all Georgians as many people took part in its construction, especially wealthy citizens. In 1995, when there was only the foundation, people wrote their names and wishes on the stones, which were then used in the base. The most interesting fact about its construction was the contest. When the Patriarchate (the highest position in Orthodox Church) announced a contest for the cathedral’s project, even though more than a hundred projects were submitted, there was no winner in the first round. Finally, they chose a unique design of the architect Archil Mindiashvili.
When you enter the church, you feel powerful energy and positive vibes. Apart from its beauty, these feelings come from the fact that the foundation of the cathedral was done according to all traditions and rules. samba is one of the most magnificent churches in the Orthodox world and I guess it is worth visiting especially if you love exploring such interesting places. Sameba Cathedral, an impressive sample of the Georgian architecture and culture.