The Jvari Monastery, which was closed on Monday by clerics “due to unsanitary conditions and disorder” created by vendors near the site, has reopened to visitors again.
At this point, the issue has been solved - the gates of the Jvari Monastery are open [again]. However, it is also obvious that the conditions outside the monastery are not appropriate for a civilised environment.”
For this reason, and on the initiative of our [ministry], the Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation [and] the Municipal Development Fund are already working on developing an appropriate infrastructural project [which will] resolve the current situation,” Mikheil Batiashvili, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia said in a comment about the development on Wednesday.
Vendors say that they are ready to move to a different place if such is offered.
The Georgian Patriarchate has called upon the Georgian government to settle the street vending problem near monuments of historic and spiritual importance, as existing “disorder and unsanitary conditions near such sites in the 21st century is inappropriate.”
The Patriarchate’s view mirrors that of the head of the Jvari Monastery in Mtskheta, Konstantine Jincharauli, who closed the site to hundreds of tourists and local visitors on Monday to “end illegal street vending” near the monastery.
Jincharauli and other clerics of the Jvari Monastery wrote that the current “unsanitary conditions and disorder near the monastery, which is a site of world importance [as it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List] is unbearable."
They said that the local municipality did not help them settle the problem which was the reason why they used a “radical step” to close the monastery and attract public attention.
Vendors say that the sale of items near the monastery is the only source of income for many of them.
The Patriarchate responds that they understand that people are in poverty and take various measures to earn money.
However, when historic and religious sites in the country are being visited by so many tourists and pilgrims, such disorder and unsanitary conditions in the 21st century is inappropriate” the Patriarchate says.
It has not been decided when the Jvari Monastery, which dates back to the sixth century and is part of the UNESCO list as one of Historical Monuments of Mtskheta, will reopen again for visitors.
Deputy Minister of Culture Mikheil Giorgadze says that vendors are likely to be given another space and the problem will be settled "constructively."
He says that the monastery will reopen for visitors very soon.
The Mtskheta mayor says it is possible the site will reopen today.