Pitsunda Cathedral

The cathedral, consecrated in the name of St. Andrew the Apostle, was built in late 10th-early 11th century and had served as the cathedral church for Abkhazia's bishops. It is a cross-domed cathedral with three naves and three apses, shaped as a rectangle with extending semicircular apses. The cathedral is notable for its impressive size, reaching 29 m high (including the dome), 37 m long and 25 m wide; the walls are up to 1.5 m thick. The building rests on heavy slabs of grey sandstone; the walls are made up of alternating rows of stone and brickwork, a typical technique for late Byzantine architecture. The spaces between the tall narrow windows underneath the dome were initially covered with frescoes of the twelve Apostles. Fragments of ten frescoes survive to this day.

Inside the cathedral, there is no architectural décor; its beauty is in its proportions that create a space filled with air and light. In the west end of the narthex, there is a small shrine with the tombs of St. Andrew the Apostle and Simon the Zealot.

By mid-10th century AD, Pitsunda cathedral became the cathedral church of Abkhazian Catholicoi. In the late 1800s, it was renovated, reconsecrated in the name of the Repose of the Virgin Mary, and made part of the New Athos monastery.

The cathedral's remarkable acoustics and pipe organ (installed in 1975) make it a popular site for classical music concerts.


Luka Gadeliya – is a cultural brand of the Republic of Abkhazia. He is a young and talented musician, Lauriat of a number of international contests. He works as an organ player at the legendary Pitsunda Cathedral erected in the 10th century in honor of the St. Andrew the Apostle.


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