Mtskheta

Oldest Capital – city to become museum

The cradle for spreading Christianity in Georgia and first capital Mtskheta is located at the tributary of rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi. The name is associated with its founder Mtskhetos who was the son of legendary ancestor of Georgian people Kartlos. Territory was populated in III-II millennium B.C. The history of civilization started from Mtskheta and this city was the center of Christian religion till XII century. The oldest monastery monuments and former settlements have been kept till now. City belongs to the region of Mtskheta-Mtianeti and connects the most beautiful high mountain region of Caucasus through military road.

Mtskheta is announced as city-museum and is included in the list of Word Cultural Inheritance of UNESCO.

Mtskheta – is a city in Mtskheta-Mtianeti province of Georgia. One of the oldest cities of Georgia, it is located approximately 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Tbilisi, at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. Due to its historical significance and several cultural monuments, the “Historical Monuments of Mtskheta” became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. As the birthplace and one of the most vibrant centers of Christianity in Georgia, Mtskheta was declared as the “Holy City” by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2014.In 2016 the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta were placed by UNESCO under Enhanced Protection, a mechanism established by the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

History – Mtskheta was founded by the ancient Meschian tribes in the 5th century BC. It was capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. It was a site of early Christian activity resulting in Christianization of Iberia, where Christianity was proclaimed the state religion in 337. It remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

King Dachi of Iberia (early 6th century AD), who was the successor of Vakhtang I of Iberia, moved the capital from Mtskheta to the more easily defensible Tbilisi according to the will left by his father. However, Mtskheta continued to serve as the coronation and burial place for most kings of Georgia until the end of the kingdom in the 19th century.

The old city lies at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi. The rare blend of cultural values had ruled in this part of the world since the Bronze Age until prosperous Christian era over the unique eclectic lifestyle creating the mood of the town which is as old as the history of Georgia. Mtskheta is the most religious city of Georgia as it has been the shrine of pagan idols since times immemorial and it is where Christianity in Georgia takes its origin.

In recognition of its role in the Georgian Christian history, Mtskheta was granted the status of a “Holy City” by Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia in accordance of the written testament of his 11th-century predecessor Melchizedek I of Georgia.

What to visit

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

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(XI centry) – one of the four greatest Cathedrals (Oshki, Bagrati Temple, Alaverdi). It is the largest historic church complex in Georgia among those who survived. During centuries it represented religious center of Christian Georgia. The Robe of Jesus and the Coat of St. Elias Prophet are buried in Svetitskhoveli.

Jvari monastery

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(VI century) – Monastery is located at the tributaries of rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi, on the top of rocky mountain. It is included in the list of World Cultural Inheritance Monuments. In 30ies of IV centuries as soon as Christianity was adopted, King Mirian III erected wooden cross on this place, which later except Georgians was worshipped by the Christians from Caucasus that’s why further the Monastery built on this place was named Jvari Monastery.

Samtavro

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(XI century) – Episcopic Temple in Mtskheta. From this place St. Nino from Cappadocia preached Georgian nation Christianity. The convent was constructed in 1820 instead of a small ancient wooden church of the 4 th century erected by tsar Mirian. Its dome and some of the parts were reconstructed after the earthquake in the 13 th – 14 th centuries with addition of the sanctuary screen. The three-storied bell tower was built in the 15 th – 16 th centuries. The frescos there are dated the 16 th – the 17 th centuries. In the 17 th century the convent was renovated for the last time.

Shio mghvime

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(VI century) – One of the most noticeable monasteries of Georgia of Early Feudal Era. It was founded by one of the Asureli Father Shio. As sources tell his last years of life Shio had spent in dark and deep grotto, after death according to the will he was buried  there (from this the name “Shio’s Grotto,” “Shiomgvime” comes). His grave in Shiogvime used to be considered as Saint Place.

Zedazeni

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(VI century) – the oldest monastery on the Mountain of Zedazeni. The name of the Mountain Zedazeni was given from the name Zadeni – Idol erected here once. According to historic data yet in the beginning of II century (109) fortress stood on Zedazeni.