This weekend, I went with with some friends to visit the town of Chiatura. I had wanted to see some sites in that area for a long time. As we were traveling there, I was reminded of the beauty and diverse geography of this country. In the span of a few hours, we traveled through mountains, river planes, foothills, and valley gorges.
We got into Chiatura and had to wait for a little for a friend who we were staying with. The town is at the bottom of a valley and is split by a river. From the looks of things, back in Soviet times, it had to be a quaint and picturesque town. But now that Georgia is rolling solo, they are having obvious upkeep issues.
Chiatura is a mining town. Or was in the Soviet times. It mined manganese out of the surrounding mountains and only recently has restarted mining. The river I mentioned earlier runs a murky dark grey. It is said to have been black at full mining production.
To connect the town to the mines, during Stalin’s reign, a cable car system was constructed. Although these cable cars are now rusted out and all but falling apart, they are still in use. They are owned by the mining companies but are free to all passengers.
And of course I had to ride one.
The main reason I wanted to come to Chiatura was to visit the nearby iconic site of Katskhsi Pillar. From the way I understand things, this religious sect way back in the day used to go to these mountainous pillars to worship. Well, the story goes a modern day Georgian thought that was pretty cool. He become a monk and petitioned the Georgian Orthodoxy to allow him to build a church up top and live there.
I wanted to climb up to the top, but the ladder was locked. (Which wasn’t really THAT much of a deterrent, as I could have shimmied up anyway, like another monk did. But it would have been bad form.)
There isn’t much else to say about the Pillar. Except to say it’s flat out awe inspiring and just crazy at the same time.
The last site of note was back in Chiatura. There is a nunnery built into the mountainside. There was no electricity at all. So the main ‘space’ was not only dripping with mountain water, but also eerily dark. And in this cave environment they still had the ancient relics and icons of the Church. It was amazing. Because of the lighting, none of my photos came out. You will just have to see it for yourselves.
I didn’t want to load up this post with photos. But I do have more on the tab on the right. Enjoy.
And even greater photos are found at the following sites:
“Q: What is wrong with the world?
A: Everybody pays attention to pictures of things. Nobody pays attention to things themselves.”
“Hundred Dollar Kisses” Vonnegut (1960)