What to see in Mtskheta, itinerary including the main monuments and places of interest, including Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari Monastery.
Located near Tbilisi, strategically located at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, Mtskheta was the capital of the kingdom of Georgia between the third century BC. and the fifth century AD.
It is a very significant place for the Georgian Orthodox Church, as Christianity became the state religion right here, around 327.
Already in the first century the city boasted a very important relic, brought from Jerusalem by Elioz, a Jew living in the area.
It was probably the Lord's Tunic, buried according to tradition under the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
It is in this great Church that important liturgies of the Georgian Orthodox Church still take place.
The land of Mtskheta preserves ruins dating back to before the eleventh century BC, as well as a heritage of medieval churches of great architectural and religious value, included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Among these monuments, the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral stands out.
The current structure was built in the eleventh century on the ruins of the church dating from the fifth century.
The name Svetitskhoveli, which means Column that gives life, originates from the tradition concerning the Lord's Tunic brought to Mtskheta by Elioz, who handed it over to his sister Sidonia, who after holding it close with great ardor died.
Sidonia was buried together with the Sacred Tunic, but with the passage of time the place of his tomb was forgotten and, when in the fourth century it was decided to build the first church, it was not possible to lift the column from the ground that was to be placed in the center of the 'building.Recommended readings
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After the prayers of Saint Nino, the Saint to whom the conversion to Georgia's Christianity is attributed, the column moved by itself towards the site of the burial of Sidonia and the Robe of the Lord.
Myrrh gushed from this column, which was used to heal many people.
Then in the fifth century the stone church was built, whose small ruins are to the left of the current Cathedral, restored several times over the centuries.
Inside the Cathedral, where the miraculous column once stood, there is the Tomb of Sidonia, rebuilt in the second half of the seventeenth century.
Another significant monument of Mtskheta is the Jvari Monastery, or Monastery of the Cross, located on top of a mountain near the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, in a splendid panoramic position.
The current building was erected at the end of the sixth century, on the site where a cross was raised.
Its architecture, in ancient Georgian tretraconco style, was taken as a model for the construction of numerous churches in Georgia.
Near Mtskheta there are other ancient testimonies, such as the ruins of the Bebris Tsikhe Castle, in addition, in the city museum, an interesting collection of archaeological finds found in the area is preserved.