Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi. (National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The controversial restoration of Georgia’s historic Bagrati Cathedral has been awarded the international prize Domus Restoration and Conservation.

According to the jury, ‘the intervention of critical reintegration of Bagrati Cathedral, one of the greatest episodes of Georgian architecture of the eleventh century, is an example of the efforts made by the architect Andrea Bruno to solve the complex relationship between ‘old and new ‘, through a key reading original re-integration.’

The jury will hold an award ceremony March 20, 2013, at Palazzo Tassoni, Ferrara, Italy, for the two winning projects.

Bagrati Cathedral was built sometime between 975-1014 in Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia. According to historic sources, the cathedral was destroyed in 1692 by the Ottomans.

In 2009, on President Mikheil Saakashvili’s initiative, rehabilitation work was started, as the president said it was necessary to build a dome for the cathedral; however this idea was criticized as many claimed it would destroy the authenticity of the building.

Those against the rehabilitation claimed that even though the cathedral didn’t have roof, it had retained its historical appearance and authenticity and in summer or in a good weather people still went there to pray; even to get married.

In 2010, the World Heritage Committee placed Bagrati Cathedral on its list of endangered world heritage and the reason was the start of reconstruction work violating the authenticity of the building.

The status of Bagrati is still under review and isn’t final, but meanwhile the Cathedral has been fully reconstructed and now has a light green dome and modified interior.

In 1994, Bagrati Cathedral was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.