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Unique wall paintings in Vardzia covered in soot

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, November 3
A fire that broke out at the St Mary’s church in the country’s ancient cave city of Vardzia late on November 1 wrapped part of a unique wall painting in soot.

The National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia stated that a group of experts had been sent to the church to study the damage.

The head of the Agency, Nikoloz Antidze, said that the fire was allegedly caused by a lit candle left on a table.

“The group we sent to Vardzia is tasked with establishing which method would be better to use in the paintings’ cleaning process. The conservation of paintings is a very complicated process and it requires the selection of the most appropriate methods in a very cautious manner,” Antidze said.

Currently the church is closed to tourists and visitors.

The 12-13th century cave- city complex of Vardzia is one of the key tourist sites in Georgia and is visited by thousands of foreign and domestic visitors every year.

The site features hundreds of rooms and passageways connecting the man-made caves, which were carved into rock formations. Residential, storage areas and wine cellars can also be found throughout the complex.

This September, the site became more accessible for tourists and visitors with disabilities; it was also announced that ramps and other infrastructure would be installed in the near future.