According to the ancients maps of Anatolia, historical roots take us back to 4th century AD: the Kingdom of Iberia, as Georgian state. Georgian Orthodox Church Tradition claims the first preacher of the Gospel in Iberia was the Apostle Andrew, who came around here to preach in the last half of the 1st century AD. Together with Armenians, they were the first communities accepted Christianity in the Asia Minor. During his first Missionary Journey, he traveled to Constantinople, Pontus and later the Caucasus. As early as first half of the 1st century AD, Christianity was first preached here by the apostle St. Andrew. Al though Georgia and Iberia remained a largely pagan until the first half of the 4th century, St. Nino from Cappadocia arrived in the region with a mission to convert this country:
“According to a well-known legend, St Nino came carrying a cross of vine branches bound together with strands of her own hair. She succeeded in her mission so successfully that in 337 King Mirian declared Christianity to be the state religion. Pagan idols were systematically destroyed and Christian churches and monasteries were built in their place”
Today, Turkey’s Coruh Valley is home to valuable heritage of the Medieval Georgian Architecture. Despite of the tough climate and being remote corner of the “Anatolian World”, somehow, Georgians created amazing architecture of their own here, which was the evolution of Gothic! These churches influenced mid-Byzantine architecture and were a factor in the evaluation of the Romanesque style in Europe.
Ishan Church was built in the 9th century by the Georgian Kind David. This church was domed basilica plan type. Almost 22 different geometrical and flora motifs are used to ornament the Church and we see decorations do not follow a proper style. The pointed oval dome of this church is one of the finest samples of Georgian stone workmanship and exactly 32 meters high. The walls are limestone. Today we see the church of the Mother of Mary. In fact Isvan was part of a 10th century monastery complex. There is a Georgian inscription both in the interior and exterior recording different restoration work in the middle ages. Ishan was a cathedral until the 17th century.
There is no doubt that Eastern Empire fatally weakened by the Crusaders sack of Constantinople in 1204. Thus also came out as missionary works increased and both in Armenia and Georgia basilica and centralized churches erected in numbers.
10th century monastery complex of Osk Vank is the most elaborate example of Georgian Gothic architecture. Same with Ishan castle, this complex was also commissioned by King David. The complex was a cultural centre until the 15th century. Here we see images of lions, eagles, and bulls. In order, lion symbolizes lion; Eagle symbolizes St. John and Ox-or bull? Symbolizes Luke. Considering this church was dedicated to St. John, we can come to point that four evengalists depicted here. This complex is the biggest cruciform shape church in the region.
Two-color stone adornments and reliefs are spectacular: St. Simeon, Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Eastern part of the wall includes five relief figures depicting Jesus, Virgin Mary, St John the baptist praying as well as king david and one of the prices on their sides. The column bases are decorated with arabesque, floral figures and pinecone motifs. Geometrical patterns and flora designs are typical to this type of architecture.The central dome of with long and narrow windows resemble the gothic style. Noone of the wall paintings survived today.
Where is Coruh Valley?
Coruh Valley is considered by the world Wild Fund for Nature and by Conservation International as a biodiversity hotspot along with rich cultural heritage. Coruh offers a unique landscape with its very deep and steep valley and rapid flowing water, located in the Northern Black Sea Region of Turkey. Due to low intensity human activity in the area, natural riches are well preserved. Here is very important, an important bird and a key biodiversity area and has been nominated as a high priority area for protection. This is rich in plants and contains 104 nationally threatened plant species of which 67 are endemic to Turkey.
St. Andrews’ Re-Burial In Constantinople
“In the month of March in the year 357 the Emperor Constantine (son of Constantine The Great) ordered that the body of St. Andrew be removed from Patras and be reinterred in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. With all the magnificence and honor of the Byzantine Empire and the Great Church of Christ at Constantinople, St. Andrew was returned to the City that had first heard the message of Jesus Christ from his lips. Thus he became in death, as well as in life, the founder of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople.”
• George Alexandrou,“The Astonishing Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Andrew”
• E.Gordon Whatley, Anne B. Thompson, Robert K. Upchurch, “ The Martyrdom of St. Andrew: Introduction”