[ July, 2018 ] The most famous picture of Georgia, the country in Caucasus, is the view of Gergeti Trinity Church, seen from Kazbegi village.
We, too, came all the way into the mountains to see this view.
Kazbegi village, which is situated at an altitude of 1,750 metres, is now officially called Stepantsminda.
The name was recently changed to the original name from the time before Russia annexed Georgia, but generally people still call it Kazbegi.
As soon as we arrived at our hotel, we wore everything we had and departed to the church, driven by a 4-wheel-drive car.
The weather was bad, so we discussed if we should postpone it to the next day, but the forecast for the next day was bad too, so we decided to go then.
This church is on top of the hill at 2,200 metres, which is very well seen from the village.
The car driven by a local man was a Mitsubishi and it still had the steering wheel on the right hand side.
According to our guide, Ana, this village received a fund to improve the unpaved road from the World Bank, but a lot of local people are against the idea of the improvement.
That is because for many of them, taking tourists by 4-wheel-drive up to the church is the main income.
The village is often isolated in winter, so it is especially important to earn money in the summer.
The main tourists here are Chinese, Arabian and Russian, apparently.
Actually, it was the second time for me to visit here.
The first time, 18 years ago, we walked up all the way from Kazbegi village.
The driver at that time, who acted as a guide, lost the way, so we all had to climb, literally getting on all fours.
On the way back, we slid down on the snow, which was still there in April.
On that occasion, when we had a picnic on the grass next to the Gergeti Trinity Church and drank a glass of vodka, there were no other people apart from us.
So this time, hearing that it is popular for Chinese and Arabian tourists, I felt I was living in a completely different age.
By the way, whenever we entered the Georgian churches, us women had to cover our heads.
It did not have to be a scarf and my hat was OK.
However, this Gergeti Trinity Church was special and we had to cover our lower body, too.
The trousers were not good enough and we had to wrap ourselves with a cloth, which was provided at the entrance of the church.
I remember I did the same thing at a monastery in Macedonia.
In the church, Ana told us some anecdotes regarding the building of this church in the 14th century.
When they could not decide where to build a church in this region, a wise man in Mtskheta told them “Slaughter a cow and cut it in pieces. A raven will pick one up and fly away. Then it will drop the meat and that is the place you should build the church”.
So they built it here.
When they had to decide which architect should build the church, they organized a competition : “The first person who arrives here from the Jvari Pass (the highest point of the Military Highway) will be our architect”.
Many started running from Jvari Pass, but among them there was a lame person who rode a horse on the shortcut.
He won and built the church.
Apparently, the Trinity is the most important concept for Georgian people.
When they make the sign of the cross, they put thumb, index finger and middle finger together and that refers to the Trinity.
The third finger and the little finger represent the dual nature of Christ, human and God.
They put these fingers on the palm, which means the human world.
With this shape of the hand, they move the hand from top to bottom and from right to left.
Catholics and believers from other religions move the hand from top to bottom and from left to right, don’t they?
Ana told us that the reason Georgians move their hand to the right first is that they think ‘right is good’.
This church is a monastery too, and currently there are 6 monks living here.
When we came out of the church in which the photography was strictly prohibited, we saw a pale rainbow.
Although the weather was not nice, the mountain scene with the hanging clouds was moving.