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Georgia

Katskhi Pillar

Small church on top of a huge rock column. 

The Katskhi Pillar abruptly rises 40 meters from the hills of Central Georgia and looks similar to a giant’s club. Its mythical aura made it a place of worship since humans settled this area. Prior to the arrival of Christianity, the pillar served as a pagan holy place for a long time and was most likely used for fertility rites.

In the 4th century, Georgia adapted Christianity as its state religion, as the second country in the world after Armenia. Slowly, and following in a general world trend, Christianity replaced pagan places of worship with Christian ones to consolidate the new set of beliefs. Thus, the Katskhi Pillar became the site of a small church first built in the 7th century.

The church that sits atop the pillar resembles the practice of the Stylites who were early Christian ascetics who prayed on top of wooden pillars. Following the lead of the much-revered Saint Simeon Stylites, who sat atop a pillar for almost 40 years, these pious Christians tortured their bodies and devouted their spirit to their religion. The Katskhi Pillar also bears a striking resemblance to the famous Greek monasteries of Meteora.

Currently, the Georgian Orthodox Church is building a new small church at the top of the rock column, which is reached via a combination of scaffolding at the lower half, and a vertigo-inducing iron ladder at the upper half of the pillar. The earthly remains of a believer, who died atop the pillar at an unknown date, are kept at the contemporary church building. Women are not allowed to climb to the top.

Know Before You Go

Katskhi, near Chiatura, Imereti Mkhare, Georgia

Contributed by
T Tawsam
Edited by