Mts'khet'a Things to Do

  • The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe, Mtskheta
    The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe, Mtskheta
    by SWFC_Fan
  • The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe, Mtskheta
    The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe, Mtskheta
    by SWFC_Fan
  • The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe, Mtskheta
    The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe, Mtskheta
    by SWFC_Fan

Most Recent Things to Do in Mts'khet'a

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    The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe

    by SWFC_Fan Written Mar 19, 2013

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    The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe, Mtskheta
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    We paid a brief visit to The Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe ("The Elder's Fortress"; built in the 14th Century) during a day trip to Mtskheta in February 2013.

    This ruined castle is located a little way north of the city centre. It took us around 15 minutes to walk the 1.2km or so along Davit Aghmashenebelis qucha from Samtavro Church to reach the fortress.

    We passed stray dogs, a herd of roaming cattle and a few landslide warning signs before making the steep climb up the loose stone path to the ruins.

    At the top, as we wandered around and between the crumbling walls, we were rewarded with views over the Aragvi River and the rather sorry looking Teatron Park.

    On a grassy area adjacent to the ruined walls, a large crowd of locals had congregated and appeared to be carrying out some sort of religious ceremony.

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    Samtavro Cemetery

    by kokoryko Written Apr 28, 2012

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    The Samtavro cemetery excavations can be visited with the ticket you buy for the museum visit.
    These excavations look quite spectacular for those who are not used to see big necropolis from the antiquity.
    The cemetery dates back to the 3rd millennium BC and several periods of “activity” have been identified till the 10th century AD and various periods can be identified in the stratigraphy the archaeologists try to depict from the excavations.
    This site is still under examination and there is not a lot of information and the artefacts found in the graves are not visible. I visited here shortly, as it rained cats and dogs, it was a bit a strange atmosphere in this place where you see these old stones.

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    Mtskheta archaeological museum

    by kokoryko Written Apr 28, 2012

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    That is the kind of museums which have lots and lots of interesting items and where there are almost no explanations; that leaves a lot of space for imagination and interpretation, but, seriously, if one of the guides from the museum had not guided me for free (I gave her a French course in return) and explained about the people who lived in the area in early historical times (Iberia, I never heard about Iberia (except the one on the other side of the Pyrenees!) before I visited Georgia), about the excavations, the visit would not have been that interesting.
    The small items we see displayed here in the pictures were probably not toys, but I like the idea kids were playing with them. This type of statuettes is found in the early settlements of the Middle East, (The Fertile crescent), and here further North, we were not far from Noah’s place.
    The items you see on the photographs are more than 4000 years old, and you can be amazed by the artistic and technological skills people mastered at that time.
    The entrance at the museum allows you to visit the Samtavro excavation site located few hundred metres from the museum.


    10am-5pm, except Mondays.
    Entrance, 3 GEL

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    Svetistkhoveli Cathedral of Mtskheta (2)

    by kokoryko Written Apr 28, 2012

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    Inside Svetistkhoveli Cathedral the visitors will discover exceptional chapels, frescoes and icons. As there are many pilgrims and worshippers, the religious atmosphere adds to the beauty of the cathedral.
    Some of the paints on the walls, ceilings are from the 13th century, but most are from the 19th century, as the “Russian Orthodox church did not like the Georgian style of painting” (quoting a guide). In this cathedral are many icons and among very interesting things inside are chapels of very different style, one massive, (picture 3), a reproduction of the Holy Sepulchre, and another, very light and “baroque”, covered with paints and icons (picture 4). There are other “monuments in the monument”, and the visit of this cathedral can take a few hours, once you get fascinated by all these paints.
    The huge Christ in Majesty (picture 5) you can see in the apse is an example of 19th century Russian paint, which replaced some older paint.
    This is one of the most impressive and beautiful interior of a church I have visited ever; if you are in Tbilisi, it is really worth to visit this place.

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    Svetistkhoveli Cathedral of Mtskheta

    by kokoryko Written Apr 28, 2012

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    General view
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    The pillar of life is what mean the name of the cathedral; Svetitskhoveli cathedral has long been the most important of the country, and lots of Georgian were angry when the Trinity church has been built in Tbilisi, at the turn of the 21st century.
    This big church, laid out like a cross is interesting to visit, outside and inside, and here are some of the finest religious art examples, which are not in museums.
    Very fine sculptures (picture 2) or low reliefs (picture 3, sorry for the scaffoldings) can be seen when walking around the church. The window frames are also beautifully carved on different types of stones, and everywhere you find figures of saints or angels (picture 4) and the original bull’s heads for the copies which are on the Eastern façade (picture 2); the bulls heads and other sculptures date from the original church built during the 4th century and have been re-used when the actual cathedral has been erected on the ruins of the old one. These bulls heads, pheasants, and other animals are thought to be remnants of primitive Christianity in the area, a sort of mix with the local animist religion.
    More carving skills on this cross (picture 5) in the middle of a high wall; it is very interesting to walk around this church, as there is no opportunity to walk easily around the churches in Tbilisi, and one cannot have perspectives there or open views in the narrow streets; here, there is space around and it offers a lot to the visitor.

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    Mtskheta and St Nino

    by kokoryko Written Apr 28, 2012

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    And Jvari Monastery on the hill
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    Mtskheta is a very old city which is best visited on feet; I walked along one of the rivers, looking at the houses and the hills in the far, enjoying the cool weather (it would rain soon), after having visited the cathedral. Nice in the city are the fortifications around the cathedral and the small renovated houses in small narrow streets near the cathedral, but even more nice was a small café, located in a not renovated house: small shelters made of braided wood, old tables, a strange sculpture on a branch in the middle of the yard (picture 3), an excellent refreshing beer; the owners of the Guga café, located half way between the cathedral and the museum were very welcoming and kind, and offered me some plums to take with me. .
    Mtskheta was the capital city of Iberia (Kartlia) during 7 centuries and it is here that Nino from Cappadocia convinced the royal family to embrace the Christian religion in 327.
    Nino is one of the most important historical (and legendary) characters of Georgia: lots of girls in Georgia are named Nino! Nino’s father, a Roman general was from the same family as St George (yes, the one who killed the dragon) and her mother was from the family of the patriarch of Jerusalem. In addition to converting thousands of people to Christianity, Nino is known to have done many miracles in Anatolia and Georgia.
    So, this city of Mtskheta is the heart of Georgia in some way, and the cathedral reflects that, but other monuments are quite rare and well hidden like this small church (picture 4), Antioch church, 4th century, which was not accessible behind the stone walls.

    The café is located on the A point of this map

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    The main gate in the ramparts of Sveti Skhoveli

    by JLBG Updated Oct 30, 2011

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    The main gate in the ramparts of Sveti Skhoveli
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    The main gate into the ramparts stands almost in front of the entrance into the cathedral. As this was Easter week, there were plenty of worshipers. On each side, half a dozen old ladies were each asking for a coin from the worshipers.

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    Jvari

    by JLBG Written Oct 30, 2011

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    Jvari

    Jvari (or Djvari) monastery stands on a hill overhanging Mskheta in the South-east. It is close to the city and can easily be seen from Sveti Skhoveli but it rained hard and we felt that the rainy and foggy landscape was not worth the climb and we skipped it, as we had skipped Bebris Tsikhe.
    It is a cruciform church and the main historical landmark of Georgia. It was built in the Vith century in a place where Saint Nino is said to have erected a wooden cross.

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    Inner view on the way out through the ramparts

    by JLBG Written Oct 30, 2011

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    Inner view on the way out through the ramparts

    Sveti Shkoveli is famous among Ufologists. On a 17th century fresco depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, they have spotted a pair of flying saucers painted on each side of the Christ. I have not been convinced and feel that the two “things” are more likely to be flying jelly fishes!

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    Out of Sveti Shkoveli

    by JLBG Written Oct 30, 2011

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    Out of Sveti Shkoveli

    I was amazed to see a young lady that came out of the church, speaking in her cellular telephone. After a few feet outside, she turned back and kneeled, as almost everybody did, but did not stop to speak on her phone!

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    Sveti Skhoveli

    by JLBG Written Oct 30, 2011

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    Sveti Skhoveli

    Sveti Skhoveli is a highly venerated place of worship for Georgians. The cathedral that we see today was built in the Xith century at the place where stood a much older church, built in the Ivth century. Several legends are associated to this first church. To make short a long story, it would have been built with seven cedar column including one that was still able to grow, hence the name of the cathedral, which means "the Living Pillar Cathedral"

    Georgian language is not an Indo-European language. Therefore, it has nothing to do neither with Latin nor Germanic nor Slavic languages. No Indo-European root can be found in Georgian and when there seems to be one, it is a false friend (linguists would say “false cognate”). Sveti Shkoveli is a good example. At first sight, it makes sense to link it to the Slavic “Sveti”, same root and same meaning as Saint. It would make sense that a church named “Sveti Skhoveli” would mean “Church of Saint Shkoveli” but as said above, the meaning is entirely different !

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    Holy cow ?!

    by JLBG Written Oct 30, 2011

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    Holy cow ?!
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    On each side of the gate, stands a cows’head. They deserve the name of “Holy cow” (LOL).

    I have searched but I have not found why there were these two cow’s head, which rather unusual in a religious surroundings. Anybody knows ?

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    Sveti Skhoveli, the bell tower

    by JLBG Written Oct 30, 2011

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    Sveti Skhoveli, the bell tower

    In Sveti Skhoveli as in most churches in Georgia, the bell tower stands outside of the church itself. It sits on the inner side of the ramparts. There is a staircase that leads to the bells but there was a locked gate that did not allow to visit. Too bad, besides the bells, there should have been a nice look on the cathedral.

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    Sveti Skhoveli, the ramparts

    by JLBG Written Oct 30, 2011

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    Sveti Skhoveli, the ramparts
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    The cathedral of Sveti Skhoveli (or Svetishoveli or Sveti-Tskhoveli) was built Xth or XIth century, but the ramparts around the cathedral were built in the 18th century to protect it when Georgia was split between several local kings that fought each other

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    Samtavro church, the bell tower

    by JLBG Written Oct 30, 2011

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    Samtavro church, the bell tower

    The bell tower of Stamvro church stands apart from the church. It has three levels, all of them with arched apertures. The first and the second level were built on a square pattern while the third level is circular. The first level has four apertures (one on each side), the second level eight and the third level twelve. I suspect it has a religious meaning but have not found any substantiation about it.

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