Ninotsminda Cathedral is located in the Ninotsminda village near Sagarejo, in the Kakheti region, Georgia.

Ninotsminda Cathedral is highly significant to the development of Georgian architecture as constructed in AD 575 it predates Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta, and served as a model for the development of the later tetraconch (four-apse) form.

I visited this cathedral first in January 2019 and was more than surprised on how much I enjoyed this place

Ninotsminda cathedral near Sagarejo in Georgia

Ninotsminda cathedral near Sagarejo in Georgia

The site is ruins today, with only the eastern apse and a portion of the western wall remaining. The ruined apse is decorated with 16th-century frescos of the Hodegetria, severely vandalized with bullet holes from Dagestani bandits in the 18th and 19th centuries. Outlines of the foundations indicate that the church originally had an octagonal center, surrounded by corner niches. Historical records indicate that restoration work was undertaken in the 10th and 11th centuries, and also during 1671 and 1774. However, the cathedral collapsed during earthquakes in 1824 and 1848 and was not reconstructed.

Bell-tower at Ninotsminda cathedral

Bell-tower at Ninotsminda cathedral

The large brick belltower within the same complex dates from the reign of King Levan of Kakheti (1520-1574). The lower three stories served as a residence, each floor with a fireplace. The staggered placement of bricks on the exterior façade to form geometric patterns indicates the cultural influence of Safavid Persia, as does the pointed arch over the entrance.

Corner towers at Ninotsminda Cathedral

Corner towers at Ninotsminda Cathedral

The Ninotsminda complex is surrounded by a fortification, with corner towers and a crenelated curtain wall, dating from the 16th-17th centuries. The fortified entrance gate has protruding towers with beehive machicolations.

The complex is currently operated as a nunnery by the Georgian Orthodox Church, and reconstruction work is underway.