Churches and the Creation Of Landscape

A visit to Tbilisi, Georgia, reveals that churches are crucial elements in the creation of landscape. Their civic functions are at least as important as their theological functions.

1 minute read

November 20, 2017, 9:00 AM PST

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310

Narikala Castle

MehmetO / Shutterstock

"In Tbilisi’s early days, its churches would have stood on their own, not as quaint punctuation marks in the urban landscape but as lonely citadels. Today, Tbilisi’s churches have mountaintop counterparts that offer a sense of what those early churches would have looked like, naked against the rough landscape of the Caucuses, surrounded by shacks and sheep, if anything....Imagine how it looked to 6th century eyes, possibly as the only permanent structures they’d ever seen. Back then, in unpolluted Caucasian air, you could probably have seen longer distances than most people would ever travel in their lives."

"Regardless of the theology and practices that came with them, the concept of the church, as a physical, permanent manifestation of God’s holiness and literal manifestation of a congregation, would have offered Georgians—like early Christians anywhere else—the opportunity to define, and, indeed, create a landscape for perhaps the first time."

"As it happens, Tbilisi is now building a whole new generation of prominent, inventive buildings. Whether they are inspirational and durable is another matter."

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