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Wedding Palace Tbilisi

Tbilisi, Georgia
1 of 9

The Wedding Palace or Palace of Rituals in Tbilisi is a masterpiece of Victor Djorbenadze. The building, drawing on influences as diverse as 1920s expressionism and medieval Georgian church architecture, met with mixed critical reviews. Like the cemetery complex, the wedding palace was intended to bring life milestones in line with secular Soviet dogma while still making concessions to the public taste for ritual. In the 1960s and 70s, Tbilisi had several wedding houses, usually located in repurposed historic buildings or occupying the first floor of newer residential buildings. Although they included decorative elements, these institutions were primarily registration offices and offered little in the way of festive ambience - especially when compared to traditional Georgian church weddings. Djorbenadze proposed a grand wedding palace design that incorporated elements of Georgian church architecture: frescoes, a bell tower, soaring interior spaces. These elements raised objections from municipal authorities, appalled by the inclusion of ecclesiastical iconography in the very building intended to supplant religious ceremonies. Eduard Shevardnadze, however, defended Djorbenadze's design to the state committees, and his design was approved. The Wedding Palace was completed in 1984, with a grand opening on Tbilisoba, a municipal holiday instituted by Shevardnadze in 1979. The exuberantly phallic building, drawing on influences as diverse as 1920s expressionism and medieval Georgian church architecture, met with mixed critical reviews.

Quote:Victor and Merab in the construction bureau in the cathedral. Victor had pulled out a floor plan of the building to explain his ideas, he stood back and smiled. "Take a look! What do you see?" On first glance I saw a face, perhaps a Chinese-monkey mask, but then in a flash I knew what it was: the anatomical cross-section of a female abdomen.... The uterus, the ovaries, the radiating ovum, and the vagina exiting between the two slabs of the bell-tower. This insight came so sudden and was so strong that my thought had escaped before I realized what I was saying. Victor stared at me and then shook his head. "Yes, that's what it is," he said raising his bushy brows, "You are the only person who has seen that.... My mother is a gynecologist. I took the design from one of her books. - But how could you know?" He spontaneously gave me the plan, which for several years hung in my office.

Seen from the west, the left spiral block, resembling a snail, is, according to Victor, "male," here the groom's party assembles. The arcades on the outside of this block are reminiscent of the balconies of the palaces of the Georgian kings.... The bride enters through the right, "female" spiral block with its six asymmetrical window holes. The pair meets in front of the altar. After the ceremony they pass the fountain of life and exit through the central door between the slabs of the bell-tower. Baptisms were to take place in the innermost turn of the female spiral. - Merab got married in this cathedral in 1998!

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ziggurat, January 14th, 2019
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