Fire in ancient Vardzia cave city, part of unique wall painting covered in soot

Cave city Vardzia is located in Samtskhe-Javakheti province, in 290 km to the southwest of Tbilisi. Photo from Elite tour., 02 Nov 2016 - 15:08, Tbilisi,Georgia

Fire broke out at St Mary church in the country’s ancient cave city Vardzia late yesterday, which caused covering certain part of unique wall painting with soot. 

National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia announced about the incident early in the morning and stated a group of specialists have been sent to the church to study the situation. 

 Head of the Agency Nikoloz Antidze said the church was acting and the fire was allegedly caused by a lit candle remained on the table with icons, church literature and similar. 

Antidze said investigation was in progress to clear out the genuine reasons of that one-hour fire. 

When it comes to the group of professionals we have sent to Vardzia, they are tasked to advice which method would be better to use in the paintings’ cleaning process.  Conservation of paintings is a very complicated procedure and it requires selecting of a relevant method in a very cautiously manner,” Antidze said. 

At the present moment the church is closed to tourists and visitors. 

The 12-13th century cave complex of Vardzia in Southern Georgia  is one of the primary tourist destinations in the country and is visited by thousands of tourists every year.

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