Katskhi Pillar – Going to Church on a Stairway to Heaven

Trust me on this, that headline has absolutely nothing rock’n’roll about it . Weirdly enough, it’s actually true and you can even go on to experience it yourself, provided you’re willing to travel.

Travel a little or a lot rather depends on where you’re starting from as you’ll have to go to Georgia in order to live this out. Oh, and that’s not Georgia, the American state, but Georgia a small country that sits borderline between Europe and Asia. In this rather remote country, that’s seen it’s fair share of misfortune over the years for various political issues, economic and social pressures and so on, you’ll be able to find an unusual bastion of hope.

Katskhi lies (trust me on this, there’s no better word to describe it) less than 10 km(6.3 miles) from a small mining city called Chiatura and it is a very special hurch. Not only are its attendees high, so is the entire building.

The unique church of Katskhi pillar sits on top of a rock formation which towers 130 ft high. Not unusual enough for you? How about this, a Georgian monk has been living in it for nearly 20 years now. Still want a high dose of weirdness than the fact that the rusty creaking ladder used to go to this church is called the stairway to heaven? Well, the high church is estimated to have been built in between the 6th and 8th centuries and it is believed to actually have pagan roots, as a symbol of fertility to some forgotten god.

Regardless of the rather unusual clout around the high church with a stairway to heaven attached, it actually belongs to the orthodox side of Christianity. Which, unusually, is pretty much the most conservative and least “compromised” side of Christianity as a whole. Where things get rather predictable is in the building effort and increased popularity of this oddity we’re seeing nowadays. No longer is it a “fortress of solitude” that aims to bring you closer to God, but rather a bit of a commercial effort towards making it more accessible.

 

Photos © Ivane Goliadze


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