Only 16 percent of Gelati monument roof damaged, says cultural heritage agency head

  • Rehabilitation works on Gelati have been ongoing since 2008, with roof replacement for the central St Mary Monastery of the complex initiated four years ago. Photo via National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia., 25 Jul 2020 - 18:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

Only 16 percent of roof tiling of the Gelati UNESCO World Heritage Site has been damaged by adverse weather as repair works are ongoing at the site, Nikoloz Antidze, General Director of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, said in comments to media on Friday.

Antidze spoke about the damage to the recently installed roof tiles on the central part of the Gelati Monastery Complex in Georgia's west, where media reported rainwater leakage last week.

In his comments the head of the state agency said frescoes on walls of the monument had not been damaged, unlike earlier reports. Antidze said the present damage on frescoes had been observed on them before rainwater leaked through the roofing starting last winter.

A closer view of the roof tiling that has been used as a new cover for the central part of the complex. Photo via National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia.

He also told local media "minor defects" for rehabilitation efforts similar to the one ongoing at Gelati were "common occurrence".

The Georgian Arts & Culture Centre, the contractor organisation working on the roof of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is analysing new tiling pieces being prepared to replace the current ones, in efforts to rectify the damage.

The organisation said earlier this week the damage to tiling was "impossible to predict" as none of the tiles later revealed to have failed had shown signs of visual defects during inspection after they were produced, and had undergone laboratory testing on "mechanical characteristics" before being used in the rehabilitation works.

The centre also noted a "powerful hydro insulation layer" under the tiles had worked as intended, minimising leaks through the roof and into the building.