On December 8, 2023, an expedition trip to the Gagra region took place for research of Christian monuments.
In the expedition participated Archimandrite Dorotheos (Dbar), David Kandelaki – researcher at the Department of History of Abkhaz State Institute for Humanitarian Research named after D. Gulia ASA, Lana Agrba and Milana Shamba – master’s students of the Department of History, Archeology and Ethnology of Abkhazia, Faculty of History, Abkhaz State University.
During the trip, the following objects were examined:
1. Ruins of a church in the village of Psakhara, Gagra region. The church is located at an altitude of 258 m. above sea level in the village of Psakhara (Abkh. Ԥсаха́ра), on the territory of the so-called. “Greek Cemetery” (along the road leading to Mount Mamdzyschkha/Мамӡы́шьха, before reaching the first observation deck). Object coordinates: N 43° 17.152′ E 40° 16.573′.
Size of the church: the length from the entrance steps to the inner wall of the altar apse is 13.3 m; the width of the altar apse along the outer walls is 5.8 m; The width along the internal walls is 4.8 m.
The stone entrance platform with two steps is well preserved. The lower step is 300 cm wide and 190 cm deep. The second step is 240 cm wide and 156 cm deep. The steps are made of limestone stones of regular shape. The remaining fragments of the church are currently lost.
Only the walls of the altar apse have survived from the church. The thickness of the surviving masonry walls is 53~55 cm. The height of the surviving walls is 3.5 m. The depth of the altar apse is 3.1 m. Two liturgical niches have also been preserved: the southern one measuring 64×60 cm, the northern one measuring 68×50 cm, on the last one there is a layer of plaster. There is a window opening in the middle of the wall of the altar apse. The altar apse has an atypical shape and consists of the apse and two symmetrically located smaller semi-apses. The walls are made of limestone stones of irregular shape, with the exception of individual fragments. The surviving part of the walls, both inside and outside, is covered with soot from candles placed by local residents when visiting the cemetery and on the day of remembrance of St. George – Hederlez (celebrated on May 6 according to the so-called “old style”).
There is a cemetery around the church on the north-eastern side, adjacent to the preserved walls of the altar apse. The old residents of Gagra call this area the Greek Cemetery. Back in the 2nd half of the twentieth century. At this place, the Greeks living in Gagra gathered to remember the dead and celebrate the day of remembrance of St. George. Currently, this cemetery is Armenian; accordingly, people of Armenian origin from Gagra region visit this place and celebrate St. George’s Day.
2. Ruins of the medieval church of Chugurkhuanykha in the village of Bagrypsta, Gagra region. The church is located at an altitude of 430 m above sea level in the village. Chygurkhuanykha of the village of Bagrypsta (Abkh. Чы́гәырхәаныха ацуҭа Баӷрыԥсҭа́ ақыҭа иаду). The description, plan and dimensions of this church were published in the works of several authors, in particular Z. Khondziya, G. Trebeleva, G. Yurov, S. Sakania. The mentioned authors date the church back to the 7th century.
3. Three churches (Ахаш-ныха) in the village of Alakhadzy, Gagra region. The churches were studied by A. Apakidze, Z. Agrba and L. Khrushkova.
4. Early medieval double church in Pitsunda. The church was studied by L. Hrushkova.