Living Under The Cross: A New Architectural Tradition Rises in the Tbilisi Suburbs

Source: Radio Liberty

Tbilisi, May 22, 2022

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… I am on the outskirts of Tbilisi trying to photograph the crosses that sit atop some of the Georgian capital’s Soviet-era apartment buildings. Some of these metal constructions light up at night; others have small religious icons placed underneath. Many of them are the so-called St. Nino’s crosses, a traditional Georgian variation where the horizontal arms droop down diagonally. Often known as grapevine crosses, legend has it that Georgia’s first missionary made a cross with a grapevine, binding it together with her own hair.

… “To consecrate a house doesn’t just mean to protect it from, say, lightning or a fire,” explains Aleksandre Galdava, a Georgian Orthodox priest. “People approach it with magic formulas and think that with this ritual they’ll be protected from harm… Consecrating my home means that I will shelter more people, that I will feed the hungry there, that I’ll put [the house] in God’s service.”

“The cross on the top is of little importance if it doesn’t carry the idea that people inside it are respectful of each other, resolve conflicts peacefully, and take care of common areas,” the priest adds.

Visiting different apartment buildings across Tbilisi, no one is exactly sure how the cross tradition began. But you do hear the same story over and over again: There was a particularly religious neighbor who, one day, just decided to go for it and put up the cross.

Read the rest at Radio Liberty.

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