Ateni Sioni, vicinity of Gori

Ateni Sioni, vicinity of Gori

Ateni Sioni is one of the ancient temples of Georgia, constructed in the lush Ateni gorge in the latter half of the 7th century. The temple bears a striking resemblance to the Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta, and both were presumably built around the same time. This suggests that both architectural marvels might have been overseen by the same master builder, Thodosak.

In the early days of Christianity, another church stood on the site of the current Ateni Sioni. Today, remnants of drums and crosses, as well as fragments of a 5th-century basilica featuring two deer drinking water, can be found there.

Ateni Sioni is consecrated in honor of the Dormition of the Holy Virgin. Its façades preserve inscriptions from both the early and late medieval periods. Many of these are written in the ancient Georgian Asomtavruli alphabet. These stone-carved letters tell of the temple's construction era and significant historical events witnessed by the church. For instance, one can see the name of the temple's builder, information about donations, epitaphs, and much more. In terms of the number of inscriptions on its walls, Ateni Sioni surpasses all other temples in Georgia.

Inside, the temple is adorned with frescoes from the 7th and 11th centuries. The dome and wall frescoes are true masterpieces of temple painting. Noteworthy is the depiction of "Niсopeia," where one can see the Virgin Mary with the infant Christ surrounded by archangels. Also depicted are the apostles, scenes of the Eucharist and the Last Judgment, as well as various saints. Additionally, the frescoes feature King David IV the Builder, King George II, Bishop George of Chkondidi, and other historical figures.

Ateni Sioni is located in a picturesque area amidst the green hills of the gorge, surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Greater Caucasus Range. The church is just 10 kilometers from Gori, making it a must-visit to experience the unparalleled atmosphere of a Georgian medieval temple while in the city.