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Georgia celebrates 180th anniversary of country’s main enlightener

By Keti Donadze
Wednesday, November 15
180th anniversary of a writer and public figure Ilia Chavchavadze was celebrated at the National Library on November 8.

Chavchavadze’s own unique materials, artifacts and works have been presented at the exhibition space from a variety of museums. During this week, other anniversary events are also planned in the capital and regions of Georgia.

"The unique materials preserved in various museums under the Ministry of Culture of Georgia reflect the life and work of Ilia Chavchavadze, including the unique memorial items that are exhibited for the first time for the general public," noted the Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia Mikheil Giorgadze.

The Parliamentary Chair of the Committee on Education, Science and Culture, Mariam Jashi also attended the event at National Library, noting that “the nation that had Ilia Chavchavadze should feel privileged and lucky.”

Another event to celebrate Georgia’s famous writer’s 180th anniversary was held in the First Classical Gymnasium, where he studied in 1840ies. The exhibition – History Connects Us with Ilia – was opened on his birthday November 8. This week, the first Classical Gymnasium will host public lectures and discussions dedicated to Ilia Chavchavadze’s work as a writer and political figure.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili noted during the government session that anniversary events will be held in Chavchavadze’s home village Kvareli and other parts of the country.

“The events will be titled as – Ilia: Our Contemporary - these words truly reflect the essence of this huge public figure,” said PM Kvirikashvili.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili also commented on his social network on Ilia Chavchavadze’s role in development of Georgian Society two centuries ago.

“Ilia's activity in all areas of public life - culture, education and science, economy and political life – determined the way of development of Georgia,” Margvelashvili stated via Facebook adding that Chavchavadze is "one of the principal creators of the contemporary Georgia."

On this occasion, a historic, political and literary newspaper Iveria, which was founded and edited by Chavchavadze, was printed and presented to citizens of Tbilisi on November 8.

Passengers of the city's public transport found copies of a July 1909 edition of the newspaper on their seats.

Chavchavadze was one of the most important Leaders of National-Liberation Movement of Georgia in the 19th century.

Inspired by the contemporary liberal movements in Europe, Chavchavadze directed much of his efforts toward awakening national ideals in Georgians and to the creation of a stable society in his homeland.

He became a founder of public, cultural and educational organizations in the country such as Society for Spreading Literacy Among Georgians, the Dramatic Society, the Historical-Ethnographical Society of Georgia as well as of the first bank – the Bank of the Nobility. He translated works from British literature in Georgian. Chavchavadze’s literary work were translated and published in French, English, German, Polish, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Russian and other languages. In 1906 -1907, he was a member of the State Council in Russia.

On 28 August 1907, he was shot on his way to his residence in Saguramo, near Mtskheta due to his nationalistic, anti-Russian and anti-Soviet views.

Ilia Chavchavadze is deemed as a Saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church.