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Ninth century monument seriously damaged by landslide

By Liana Bezhanishvili
Friday, April 30
Restoration work on the 9th century monument Bebris Tsikhe will begin as soon as the weather improves, but it is still raining in Mtskheta and the fortress is in critical condition, an official of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Monument Protection announced on April 29.

Paata Gaprindashvili said that the fortress is in a very bad state because there is the danger it may collapse. He called on visitors to abstain from sightseeing there for a while.

The ninth century fortress in the city of Mtskheta was damaged late on Wednesday night when a landslide removed the supporting wall of the monument. The collapse of the rest of the building is quite feasible, because it stands on a rock and no preventive measures are possible.

“The situation is very serious. As a result of the last few days' rain the land on one side of the hill slid and this landslide caused the collapse of the monument, which is deteriorating further. Experts have failed to get to the castle to begin repair works; however they are inspecting the site and planning its reconstruction. Our key task is to prevent the complete collapse of the monument”, Gaprindashvili said. Minister of Culture Nikoloz Rurua and head of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Nikoloz Vacheishvili have been introduced to the situation on the ground.

A group of experts, architects, restorers and geologists has been working at the fortress since yesterday morning. "A comprehensive geological investigation needs to be made. This cannot be done suddenly and the weather needs to be good enough,” said Gigla Chanukvadze, Cultural Inheritance Protection Agency specialist.

“We have already reviewed the situation visually. Now we have to examine the monument’s condition in detail. We must try to save what we have now and only then will there be any possibility of conducting a thorough restoration of the monument,” Gigla Chikovani, geological engineer, said.

Vacheishvili stated that preventive measures have already been scheduled. He also said that the wall hit by the landslide will be rebuilt and this will be an expensive project. Rurua stated that Georgia will not allow the monument to be lost.

The landslide which hit Mtskheta totally demolished the northeast wall of the fortress. The western part of the fortress is on the verge of destruction. Bebris Tsikhe, Mtskheta’s forteress, was built in the early feudal period to protect Mtskheta’s northern approaches.