Holy Mother of God Church of Bethlehem, TbilisiEdit profile
Holy Mother of God Church of Bethlehem (Georgian: ზემო ბეთლემის მაცხოვრის შობის ტაძარი, Zemo Betlemis Matskhovris Shobis Tadzari; Armenian: Բեթղեհեմի Սուրբ Աստուածածին Եկեղեցի or Betlehemi Surb Astvatsatsin Yekeghetsi) (also now known as the Upper Bethlehem Church) is a Georgian orthodox church in Tbilisi, Georgia, that was rebuilt in stone in the 18th century.History
Upper Betlemi church is located at the foot of Narikala fortress in Kldis-Ubani (Roch District) district of Tbilisi. Firstly the chapel was founded, but the manager of construction priest Gregory died and was buried near the chapel. The work was completed by his grandson Barsegh. For long time service was held in that chapel. For some time the church remained unfinished. The upper part built of black stone was built by Agha-Meliq Bebutyan, participant of Indian crusade of Nadir Shah, killed in battle against Turks in 1724. he invited two nuns from St. Yekaterina monastery in New Jugha. His son Meliq Avetis built the fence. According to priests of the church Melikset and Mesrop Ter-Grigoryan the new church was founded by priest Sargis in cooperation with Khoja-Parukh, Baghdasar, Harutyun and Stepan. The foundation of the chapel was in the end of 13th century. Construction of bigger church was held during rein of catholicos Eghiazar (1681–1691) and Alexander (1706–1714). During the second half of 18th century the Archpriest of the church was Mkhitar, who was murdered by Agha Mohammed Khan for refusing to show the hiding-place where the church gold was kept. After Mikhtar his son Stepanos becomes the Prior, "a priest gifted", who is much described in scripts. In 1981 during excavation inside the church, the basement of the chapel was found .Georgian appropriation
Since 1994, the church has been under the control of the Georgian Orthodox Church. In 1990, the original Armenian cross of the church was removed. In 1990-1991, the Armenian fresco in the interior of the dome depending the Holy Father was erased. Also, the Armenian altar piece, originally constructed in 1898, along with the Armenian inscription attesting to its construction was completely destroyed by early 1990. The basin for baptism was also completely destroyed. The late-17th century inscribed Armenian khachkar was removed from the entrance and later disappeared.