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The '''Sioni Cathedral of the Dormition''' (Georgian: სიონი (ტაძარი)) in Tbilisi, Georgia was the main [[cathedral]] of the [[Church of Georgia]] until the completion of the [[Sameba Holy Trinity Cathedral (Tbilisi, Georgia)|Holy Trinity Cathedral]] in 2004. Sioni Cathedral traces its origins to the sixth and seventh centuries. The [[cathedral]] was the [[see|seat]] of the ruling Catholicos-Patriarchs and is commonly referred to as the “Tbilisi Sioni”, following an old Georgian custom of naming churches after places in the Holy Land.
The cathedral is situated on the right bank of the Mtkvari River with its
the western entrance located on Sioni Street in upper Kala, one of the oldest parts of Tbilisi. The cathedral [[crypt]] has also been the final resting place for many of the deceased Catholicos-Patriarchs of the Church of Georgia.
On [[April 12]], 1802, Sioni cathedral became the scene of where the annexation of Georgia into the Russian Empire was announced. On that date, General Karl von Knorring, Russian commander in chief in Georgia, presented the manifesto to the assembled Georgian nobility and required the nobles to take an oath to the Russian Imperial crown. Those who refused were arrested. <ref>Klaproth, J. (2005), ''Travels in the Caucasus and Georgia. Performed in the years 1807 and 1808, by command of the Russian government'', Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 1-4021-8908-7, p. 220 (''Replica of 1814 edition by Henry Colburn, London'')</ref><ref>Villari, L. (1906), ''Fire and Sword in the Caucasus'', T. F. Unwin, London, p. 32 (Online version [http://armenianhouse.org/villari/caucasus/caucasus-history.html])</ref><ref>Lang, DM. (1957), ''The Last Years of the Georgian Monarchy: 1658-1832'', New York: Columbia University Press, p. 247</ref>
There are two bell towers that compliment the cathedral. In 1425, King Alexander I built a free standing three story bell tower next to the church. However, in 1795, this tower was largely destroyed during an attack by Persian forces. In 1812, another three story bell tower was built across the street from the cathedral that commemorates the
Russia victory in the Russo-Turkish War of 1806 to 1812
During the nineteenth century significant changes were made to the interior of the church. Between 1850 and 1860, the Russian artist and general Gregory Gagarin painted a number of murals
that over painted older Georgian frescos. The much venerated Grapevine cross is located to the left of the altar. The cross, according to tradition, was forged by St. Nino, who brought Christianity to Georgia in the fourth century.
Sioni Cathedral remained open during the Soviet period. Some restoration work was accomplished during this time. The work included, in 1939, restoration of the three story bell tower built in 1425 by King Alexander I. Additionally, many of the facing tiles on the cathedral were restored between 1980 and 1983 and a Vakhtang Corgasali crypt was added to the north end of the church. Also, in the 1980s, the Georgian artist Levan Tsutskiridze painted murals on the western wall of the cathedral.