Georgia’s Patriarchate:
"Frescos damaged by fire in Vardzia can be restored"

Unique fresco of King Tamar on the wall at St Mary Church in Vardzia cave. Photo by, 12 Nov 2016 - 17:06, Tbilisi,Georgia

Unique fresco of Queen Tamar and other wall paintings damaged by a recent fire at Georgia’s 12th Century cave city Vardzia can be restored, says Georgia's Patriarchate.

It is absolutely possible to restore the wall paintings and it will not be related to the serious difficulties. It does not require much time and expenditures,” said Georgia’s Patriarchate.

The official statement, released today, was made based on the conclusions of the specialists who were sent by Georgia’s Patriarchate to Vardzia to examine the damage.

The experts said the soot that covered certain parts of the unique wall paintings was "light and dry” and it would be relatively easy to remove.

At the same time the experts accented the importance of creating a special commission responsible for removing the soot from the wall paintings and frescos.

The commission should include qualified art restorers and utilise local and international professionals.

Fire broke out at St Mary Church in Vardzia late on November 1. The fire caused a portion of a unique wall painting to be covered with soot.

The fire was allegedly caused by a lit candle that remained on a table with icons, church literature and other items.

After the fire at Vardzia Georgia’s Minister of Culture and Monument Protection Mikheil Giorgadze said tougher laws to protect cultural heritage sites would be introduced to better protect cultural heritage sites.

Tighter control will also concern the monkhood having touch with the heritage, as there are suspicions the fire in Vardzia was because of negligence caused by one of the monks living there.

Giorgadze said the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection and Georgia’s Patriarchate had cooperated for many years to protect religious cultural heritage sites, and a special council had been set up between the Cultural Heritage Protection Agency and the Patriarchate in the wake of the incident.

The Minister announced the council was discussing the alleged cause of the incident, as well as ways how such instances can be prevented in the future.