Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mtatsminda: The Sacred and the Grotesque

Mtatsminda is a mountain overlooking Tbilisi.

"Minda" means mountain.

12 May 2012 correction, thanks to 'George from Georgia';
'Mta' means mountain,
'Tsminda' means - sacred.
Mtatsminda - Sacred Mountain.

Atop Mtatsminda are an amusement park, a communication tower, and near the top, an historic church and cemetery.

The communication tower and the amusement park's gigantic ferris wheel are lit at night. The ferris wheel is blue. The communication tower is a glittering amalgamation of red, blue, yellow, and white.  The two are iconic beacons to those in the city below.

There used to be a tram that ran people up and down the mountain, but that seems to be out of service. You can take a city bus up the winding mountain road for only 50 tetri! It's a very scenic drive, taking about 30 minutes.

Neli has been nagging sweetly encouraging me to visit Mtatsminda for weeks, nay months. With Kate visiting here, the time for the visit had come.

Sandy, Kate, and I caught the city bus for Mtatsminda on Rustaveli Avenue and began our scenic wind up the mountain. If that's all we would have done, it would have been good, well worth the time (not to mention the negligible fare).

We drove by flowering trees, the forested mountainside, and panoramic views of Tbilisi below. Some restaurants tucked into the woodlands. People walking up and down the mountain. We reached the top, where the bus let us off.

The first thing we saw was jaw-dropping in its immensity, turgidity, and ... grotesquerie.

Who designs this shit? I mean really.

It was like a scene from Dante's Inferno.

We stayed here only long enough to use the WC and to find out how to get to Mamadaviti Church ("Father David's").

I confess that I can't keep track of all of Georgia's churches, how old they are, and the specific ins and outs of their unique frescoes (or lack thereof). So all I can say is that this church is old and Father David was much beloved. Oh, wait, here's a link. 

There is a cemetery in the churchyard, occupied by important members of Georgia's intelligentsia. And also Stalin's mother, but not Stalin.

The church and its yard perches on the side of the mountain. From the mountain's top, we climbed down and down and down on the paved path, wondering if the threatening thunderstorm would attack at any moment. We walked down and down and down with complete faith that we would not have to climb back, and indeed, we had mutually decided there was no way in Hell (see above photo) we would do such a thing.

Mtatsminda - Steps down from the mountain.

In the church, there was a service in progress. It was packed with worshippers. Swirling within, we heard the most beautiful chant song, all men. It was so crowded, no photos or video possible.

Mtatsminda, Georgia. Father David Church.

The cemetery, called the Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures, has intriguing grave monuments.

I am perplexed by the monument below. If you're going to be coy about the man's possession of a penis, wouldn't it make sense to sculpt at least the suggestion of clothing? And it's not as if Georgians are bashful about such things. I see men urinating in public quite frequently. Wait, maybe not as frequently as that just sounded. But for example: Twice this week. 

Mtatsminda, Georgia. Father David Church cemetery.

Presently, we left the church and resumed our walk down to the city.

View of Tbilisi from Mtatsminda

View of Tbilisi from Mtatsminda

View of Tbilisi from Mtatsminda

Eventually, we made it down to a street with yellow marshrutkas bobbling by; we grabbed one and then escorted Sandy to the Didube metro and market, where she caught a marshrutka to Gori.




George from Georgia said...

'Mta' means mountain,
'Tsminda' means - sacred.
Mtatsminda - Sacred Mountain.

Mzuri said...

Thank you for the correction! I've revised my post accordingly.

ლიკა ჩაფიძე said...

Will all due respect to each and every one of you who come to Georgia to teach English to Georgian kids, I simply cannot refrain from not expressing my indignation at You calling the Bombora statue a shit... yes, it might not be so much of an offensive word in English, but for Georgians it IS and if you don't know the story behind that cartoon figure, it does not mean you have to call it a shit.. It (the whole thing) is not the best thing I've ever seen in my life either and it could probably be much better, but for each and every Georgian it is a cartoon character that is much loved and respected, and I have never ever heard anyone call it a shit.. so, with all respect to your subjective views and opinions, please try to keep your offensive thoughts with you... I bet nobody ever promised you a super developled country here.. it is not the US or Sweden, and I bet you knew it before coming here, so calm down and teach yourself how to love and respect what you're given here rather than call everything a shit..

p.s. and don't be so intrigued by seeing a penisles gravestone statue. Just think of it's symbolic meaning, might as well be helpful... and don't forget, that seeing people urinating in the streets and forgetting to stick a penis wherever it should be on a statue, does not have anything to do with art and symbolism...

I'd give anything not to read entries like this and one day see my country in the shape everybody would have nothing negative to say about it, but until we get there (God, help us we get there one day) please, don't make it even worse for the ones who live here and respet their country even despite all this "shit" we see around us everyday..

Mzuri said...

Sorry you didn't like my post. You must not have been reading my blog for very long. If you had, you'd see the respect and affection I have for Georgia and its citizens.

ლიკა ჩაფიძე said...

No, I have not.. I was searching for something and I just found it... I usually read blogs on Georgia and I was hoping I'd read this one too; I am not against critical views and remarks about anything in life, but this post about Mtatsminda park just disappointed me and than after I posted the comment I was worried the rest of the day it would hurt you..I hope it didn't :)

Mzuri said...

As they say, bad press is better than no press at all! ;)

Anonymous said...

Besides the "perplexing" monument devoid of penis is supposed to represent an angel (I guess the wing(s) are quite clearly observable)... :-)

Well, according to the christian angelology - angels are suposed to be asexual...

Mzuri said...

I can see your point to a certain extent, especially since an angel presumably does not urinate either, therefore having no need for the appendage. On the other hand, I'm fairly certain he has nipples, so I think that weakens the argument.