katskhi

The Katskhi pillar is a natural limestone monolith located at the village of Katskhi in western Georgian region of Imereti, near the town of Chiatura. It is approximately 40 metres (130 ft) high, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura, a right affluent of the Q'virila.
The rock, with visible church ruins on a top surface measuring c. 150 m2, has been venerated by locals as the Pillar of Life and a symbol of the True Cross, and has become surrounded by legends. It remained unclimbed by researchers and unsurveyed until 1944 and was more systematically studied from 1999 to 2009. These studies determined the ruins were of an early medievalhermitage dating from the 9th or 10th century.
Religious activity associated with the pillar was revived in the 1990s.
he Katskhi pillar complex currently consists of a church dedicated to Maximus the Confessor, a crypt (burial vault), three hermit cells, a wine cellar, and a curtain wall on the uneven top surface of the column. At the base of the pillar are the newly built church of Simeon Stylites and ruins of an old wall and belfry. Beneath and south of the church is an elongated rectangular crypt with the dimensions of 2.0 × 1.0 m., which had served as a burial vault. Digs at the ruined wine cellar revealed eight large vessels known in Georgia as k'vevri.
In historical records, the Katskhi pillar is first mentioned[1] by the 18th-century Georgian scholar Prince Vakhushti, who reports in his Geographic Description of the Kingdom of Georgia: "There is a rock within the ravine standing like a pillar, considerably high. There is a small church on the top of the rock, but nobody is able to ascend it; nor know they how to do that."[5][6] No other written accounts of monastic life or ascents survive. A number of local legends surround the pillar. One of them has it that the top of the rock was connected by a long iron chain to the dome of the Katskhi church, located at a distance of around 1.5 km from the pillar.
The rock was once accessible to male visitors through an iron ladder running from its base to the top,[2] but has recently been deemed inaccessible to the public.