Nestled in the Mtkvari River Valley, Mtskheta is a picturesque town that was once the capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia. With a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, this ancient city is considered one of the most important cultural and religious centers in Georgia. From its ancient churches and cathedrals to its stunning natural scenery, Mtskheta is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Georgian history, culture, and spirituality.
History of Mtskheta:
Mtskheta’s history can be traced back to the 1st millennium BC when it was established as the capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia. Over the centuries, the city served as an important center for trade and commerce, as well as a cultural and religious hub. It was here that Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century, is said to have brought the cross that is now a symbol of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Mtskheta was also an important center of the arts and sciences during the medieval period. Many of Georgia’s most famous poets, artists, and musicians lived and worked in the city, and it was also home to one of the country’s oldest universities. Today, Mtskheta is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is widely considered one of the most important cultural and historical destinations in Georgia.
Jvari Monastery: Perched atop a hill overlooking Mtskheta, the Jvari Monastery is one of the oldest and most important Christian sites in Georgia. Built in the 6th century, the monastery is said to mark the spot where Saint Nino erected a large wooden cross, thus symbolizing the beginning of Christianity in Georgia. The monastery’s location offers stunning views of the surrounding valley and is a popular spot for photographers.
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral: The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is another must-visit site in Mtskheta. Considered the holiest church in Georgia, the cathedral was built in the 11th century on the site of an earlier church dating back to the 4th century. It is said to contain the robe of Jesus Christ and is a popular destination for pilgrims.
Samtavro Monastery: Founded in the 4th century, the Samtavro Monastery is another important religious site in Mtskheta. It is the final resting place of King Mirian III and Queen Nana, two important figures in Georgian history. The monastery is also home to a large garden filled with fruit trees and flowers, making it a popular spot for a leisurely stroll.
What to do for nightlife in Mtskheta:
While Mtskheta may not be known for its nightlife, there are still plenty of things to do after the sun goes down. One popular activity is to visit one of the city’s many cozy wine bars and sample some of Georgia’s famous wines. Many of these bars also offer live music and a relaxed atmosphere, making them the perfect spot to unwind after a long day of sightseeing.
Another option is to take a night tour of Mtskheta’s ancient landmarks. Many tour companies offer guided night tours of the city’s most famous sites, which can be a magical experience as the historic buildings are lit up against the night sky.
Mtskheta is a unique destination that offers visitors a glimpse into Georgia’s rich history and cultural heritage. From its ancient churches and cathedrals to its stunning natural beauty, there is something for everyone in this charming town. Whether you’re a history buff, a spiritual seeker.
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