Surb George Cathedral (1251) is one of the ancient Armenian churches of Tbilisi, located in the Old City. It is one of two functioning Armenian churches in Tbilisi and is the cathedral of the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It was once a medieval Armenian cultural enlightenment center, and the remains of prominent Armenian poet and musician, Sayat-Nova; painter Gevorg Bashinjaghyan; famous generals Mikael Loris-Melikov, Arzas Ter-Ghukasov, Ivan (Hovhannes) Lazarev; Davidovich Lazarev and Boris Shelkovnikov, are all buried in the courtyard of the cathedral.

Although once magnificent, by the early 2010s, the cathedral was in a deplorable state with large cracks in the walls and foundations. A major restoration project was devised for the church, and was carried out by an international team throughout the period 2012-2015. Great attention was paid to replacing and strengthening the old foundations and parts of the church. A drainage system was built, the walls and dome were strengthened, the external plastering of the building was removed and the original brick appearance of the church was restored.

The cathedral’s murals were studied by Armenian researchers and an Italian restorer. Alongside the construction works, the comprehensive restoration of murals covering 1,090 square meters —the oldest dating back to the 14th-15th centuries — was completed. Interestingly, since the seventeenth century, these frescoes have regularly been restored and sometimes covered by new coats of plaster. A number of new layers were uncovered and the iconostasis was restored. As a result of the cleaning of the frescoes, a series of images emerged that were hitherto unknown, located in the section beneath the dome that provided a more inclusive glimpse of the inner decoration system of the church.

The restored church has once again united the Armenians of Tbilisi around it, and become not only a spiritual, but also a cultural centre: events are held annually in the courtyard of the temple that are important for the preservation and strengthening of the Armenian identity

Two films were shot within the restoration project. The first film presents the history of the cathedral, the life and role of the Armenians of Tiflis in the history of Tbilisi as a city, and the importance of the Cathedral’s restoration. Thanks to this film, donors were attracted to restore one of the ancient temples in Tbilisi. A second film gave an idea of the work done over three years and further plans for the restoration project.

Within the scope of the project, the following three books were published: Surb Gevorg Cathedral: history and frescoes (in four languages – Armenian, Georgian, Russian and English); Sayat-Nova: Lyrics; and Shushanik, Queen of Kartli (the last two in three languages – Armenian, Georgian and Russian). The later album became a space for joint creativity for 170 Armenian and 55 Georgian children from eleven schools from Armenia, Artsakh and Georgia.

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Dear Visitor,

We are glad you are interested in the activities of the IDeA Foundation.

On this platform, you can learn about two-decades long thought, passion, commitment and hard work — all in pursuit of a more prosperous Armenia. The road has been long and reflections many. But we managed to achieve to a point where our work has left its mark on the lives of millions of people and we are really proud of it.

Our accomplishments are the fruit of a collective effort by hundreds of thousands of promoters and volunteers, tens of thousands of donors and supporters, hundreds of colleagues and dozens of founding partners. Together, we have shown what wonderous things can be achieved when people strive for realization of a common goal.

Allow our family, who was lucky enough to witness these remarkable achievements from the beginning, to express our sincere gratitude to numerous wonderful, caring, purposeful people and organizations that made all these achievements possible. We have the honor to present their successes and express our gratitude to them.

We have tried to present the key landmarks of our journey to a brighter Armenia, to chart the lessons learned, and some of the new approaches and initiatives they have forged — the 700 projects over the last 20 years.

We hope that learning about these works will be as pleasant for you as it is for us to tell about them.

But, more importantly, we would like to see you among those Armenians who will continue this path together with us in the future.

If a single community of like-minded people working towards the realization of a common vision of the future can achieve such a result, imagine what kind of changes can be made if the efforts of the entire nation were directed towards creation. Together we can dream.

And, together, we can make our dreams come true.

Thank You,

Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend