Distance from Tbilisi: 20 km
Hours to drive: 30 minutes
Best time to visit: spring, summer, autumn, winter
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 Aragvi river.
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.
Jvari Monastery is a sixth century Georgian Orthodox monastery near Mtskheta, eastern Georgia. Along with other historic structures of Mtskheta, it is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Jvari Monastery stands on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, overlooking the town of Mtskheta, which was formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Iberia.
According to traditional accounts, on this location in the early 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting King Mirian III of Iberia to Christianity, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. The cross was reportedly able to work miracles and therefore drew pilgrims from all over the Caucasus. A small church was erected over the remnants of the wooden cross in c.545 named the "Small Church of Jvari".
The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral ( literally the Cathedral of the Living Pillar) is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral located in the historic town of Mtskheta, Georgia, to the northwest of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. A masterpiece of the Early Middle Ages, Svetitskhoveli is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is currently the second largest church building in Georgia, after the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Known as the burial site of Christ's mantle, Svetitskhoveli has long been one of the principal Georgian Orthodoxchurches and is among the most venerated places of worship in the region. The present structure was completed in 1029 by the medieval Georgian architect Arsukisdze, although the site itself dates back to the early fourth century.
The Shio-Mgvime monastery (literally meaning "the cave of Shio") is a medieval monastic complex in Georgia, near the town of Mtskheta. It is located in a narrow limestone canyon on the northern bank of the Kura River, some 30 km from Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. According to a historic tradition, the first monastic community at this place was founded by the 6th-century monk Shio, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers who came to Georgia as Christian missionaries. St. Shio is said to have spent his last years as a hermit in a deep cave near Mtskheta subsequently named Shiomghvime ("the Cave of Shio") after him.
Samtavro Transfiguration Orthodox Church and Nunnery of St. Nino in Mtskheta, Georgia, were built in the 4th century by King Mirian III of Iberia. The church was reconstructed in the 11th century by King George I and Catholicos-Patriarch Melkisedek. The famous Georgian monk Gabriel is buried in the yard of Samtavro Church.
The monastery was founded by Saint John, one of the Holy Assyrian Fathers of Georgia whose mission was to strengthen Christianity in the region.
Armazi is a locale in Georgia, 4 km southwest of Mtskheta and 22 km northwest of Tbilisi. A part of historical Greater Mtskheta, it is a place where the ancient city of the same name and the original capital of the early Georgian kingdom of Kartli or Iberia was located. It particularly flourished in the early centuries CE and was destroyed by the Arab invasion in the 730s.
With the transfer of the Georgian capital to Tbilisi in the late 5th or early 6th century, Armazi went into a gradual decline. It still had its own high-ranking commandant, a post held in A.D. 545 by a certain Wistam. The city was finally destroyed and razed to the ground in 736 by the Arab commander Marwan ibn Muhammad (the future Umayyad Caliph Marwan II).
The city of Armazi has never been revived since then, but a Georgian Orthodox monastery of St. Nino was constructed there between 1150 and 1178. This is a six-apse hall church which, as well as its associated structures, is now largely in ruins and only some fragments of the 12th-century murals have survived.