Sameba Cathedral, Tbilisi

Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi, Georgia is the central cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Otherwise known as Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba means trinity in Georgian), it stands as a symbol of the spirituality and unity of the Georgian nation. The complex overlooks the city from Elia Hill in Avlabari, a neighborhood in Old Tbilisi, and includes a garden, nine churches, various other buildings and even underground quarters, including a chapel.

As the Soviet era drew to a close, a new day dawned for Georgia and the local church. In 1989 it was announced that plans had been drafted to build Sameba with the blessing of Ilia II, head of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Sameba Cathedral was dedicated to the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ and to the 1500th anniversary of the autonomy of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Due to post-Soviet hardships, construction did not commence on the new cathedral in Tbilisi until 1995, yet once it got underway it was truly a community affair. Nearly all of Georgia participated in the building of Holy Trinity Cathedral through small donations, while well-known businessmen shouldered the bulk of the cost. Eight years later, a grand complex which can be seen from almost anywhere in Tbilisi stood on Elia Hill. The opening ceremony was symbolically held on St. George’s Day (November 23rd) in 2004, 1700 years after the hero’s martyrdom.

At a height of just over 100 meters, Sameba Cathedral in Tbilisi is one of the largest churches in the world. The church, which has three entrances and is equipped with the latest communication, electrical, heating and ventilation systems, can accommodate tens of thousandsof worshippers.