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Temple of Dranda

In the north suburbs of the Dranda village, Gulripsh District, on the high plateau amongst buildings of the Dormitory monastery of Dranda its main cathedral dominates. This monument refers to a type of the Greek cross, four pillars' temples which were mostly common for Byzantium in the 6 th -7 th centuries. The east facade is formed by three apses' five-faceted projections outside which comprise an altar with its side premises such as diaconicon and credence table connected by the aisles. Two round premises along with deep semicircular niches correspond with the above in the temple west part. From the west side such vast longitudinal hall as narthex with choir stalls on the first floor is adjacent as well. The temple is capped with its cupola relying upon a low 16-faceted (outside) drum and is illuminated through 36 gothic large windows. The temple interior has been painted with relevant scenes of sacred history and saints' images remained partly up to now...One can also observe some remains of many other pictures to be visible barely by many faded and dilapidated parts although in general its colors are seen remarkably fresh...Indoors are two marble tombs available: one under the holy table itself and another near the entrance close to the west doors (here some bones, marble pieces, nails and several flat copper parts have been only found out).

In 1860 D. Bakradze, the historian, visited the Dranda temple and told that he saw «a fresco of the Transfiguration of the God as well as some frescoes depicting the Saviour and saints...» As time passed those frescoes were destructed and not being restored again.

In opinions of some researchers, the Dranda cathedral is the very construction which had been erected by the emperor Justinian The Great as reported by Procopius Caesareus, the Byzantium historian. Here the bishopric of the Archbishop of the Abkhazian Diocese has been placed as well.

The Abkhazian Diocese has its 34 th ordinal number in the list of dioceses of the Constantinople Church referred to the 7 th century. We know four bishops of Dranda such as Fedor lived in the first half of the 15 th century, Saba (Savva) mentioned by an inscription on the icon found in Svanetia, Philip participated in the Council convened as for deterioration in morals in Imeretia (first half of the 16 th century) and Gabriel compelled to abandon due to the fact of Dranda being included into the Abkhazian principality (third quarter of the 17 th century) and died in Jerusalem.

Currently after significant restoration and preservation works the cathedral has its original appearance available and is accessible for believers and disciples.

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