Updated: Jan 9, 2022
Tbilisi (and Georgia as a whole) is full of centuries old churches - most probably still used today and taken care of, but countless others are derelict, abandoned and collapsing - bad for the churches, but great for my photography!
For this entry I'm speaking in regards to what I've witnessed here in Tbilisi and specifically Armenian churches. While I've been out of the city a fair share, I haven't done nearly the same amount of exploring as I have here in the old parts of the incredible city.
It's been said that in the 19th century Tbilisi was “the most Armenian town in the world”, with Armenians accounting for more than two-thirds of the city’s population, whereas today Armenians constitute around just five per cent. The decline has been steady and has resulted in much of the Armenian heritage – residential buildings, schools, churches and other cultural monuments being neglected or simply forgotten entirely. At first I didn't know that these beautiful, crumbling and abandoned churches were Armenian, until doing a bit of research online and then asking locals. The Armenian ones are the only ones I'm aware of that are in such tragic conditions. I still can not fathom how such historical and beautiful old churches are left to fall down and disappear - often barely even fenced off from the passing people. The reality is that the cost to repair or salvage these beauties would be far more than anyone really wants to (or could) spend. In addition, the relationship between Georgians and Armenians seems complicated and not always so pleasant, so that's clearly a factor in the disregard and disinterest in these old churches.
So far I've become familiar with 4 different Armenian churches here in my neighborhood and general vicinity. All 4 were built in the 1700's, all are in various states of collapse or neglect and all are empty and unused. Two I've been into, though one is just a massive broken shell for the most part (which deserves it's own post). The other 2 aren't accessible - one is locked up, though you can see through it's windows that inside only consists of metal support beams and bars to keep it from collapsing, which take up the entire interior. The last one is just a lonely bell tower now, as the rest of the church has long since disappeared. It's surrounded by make-shift apartments, some of which have been built onto it and the bell tower is just a breezeway you walk through to get from one side to the other. I saw no signs of anything having been done up in the tower itself, nor did I see any current door or access.
Photos are below. Scroll, scroll, scroll!