Tbilisi and Mtskheta



Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia from the fifth century. Before, the country's main city was Mtskheta, which according to historical sources, existed in the IV century BC and was in the interests of Greek warriors and even Alexander the Great. Two centuries before, fugitives from Israel came to Mtskheta. They brought Pallium of Prophet Elijah, which they buried in the ground. Georgian historical sources consider that one of the greatest purity in Christianity, Christ Robe, is buried in Mtskheta. Mtskheta was a political and religious center of Georgians and the most holy place. This city still retains the function of the religious capital.

Mtskheta is situated between two rivers, Aragvi and Mtkvari junction. From the north it is protected by Bebristsikhe castle, from the south there are not so low ridges and fortifications. Legendary Kartli Mountain is located here, where according to legend biblical Noah's son Japheth's  great-grandson – Kartlos - was first settled. The establishment of Mtskheta is related to Mtskhetos, the eldest son of Kartlos. Here, in the center of this little micro-universe, on a high ridge, were standing statues of Georgian great idols, the main God Armazi, at his sides Gatsi and Gaim. There also existed the idol of Zadeni.

Now, every hill or mountain where the pagan shrines were located, stand Christian churches. The most notable is Cross of Mtskheta (VI-VII c.c.) and Zedazeni Church, from which there is a magnificent view of Aragvi and Mtkvari and almost the entire Kartli valley.  









In the center of Mtskheta stands Svetitskhoveli, built in the 11th century and which is the voluminous in Georgia. Svetitskhoveli is built on the place where the Robe of Christ is buried, and location of Elijah Pallium (mantle) is considered to be in one corner of its wall.

Samtavro monastery is in Mtskheta too. First Christian rulers of Iberia, King Mirian and Queen Nana, are buried there. The monastery of Shiomghvime, Armazikhevi, the famous mountain Bagineti with its ancient burial ground is located in the countryside. Mtskheta and its surroundings, the views, bright forests, antiquities are the ideal places for a walk,  amateur photographers and people interested in culture and history.


In the V century Tbilisi replaces Mtskheta and immediately becomes the important city in both, Georgia and Transcaucasia. Iranians, Byzantines, Khazars, Arabs and many others in Caucasus tried to conquer Tbilisi. Throughout history the capital of Georgia transferred from hand to hand. However, Tbilisi is still a kind of symbol of tolerance : There are six different religious tamples in old Tbilisi (Orthodox, Catholic, Gregorian, Judaic, Muslim and Mazdean).




Old Tbilisi starts from Abanotubani.  Legend about founding of Tbilisi is associated to these baths and sulfur water. Old Tbilisi is full of medieval architectural monuments. There you can see old-style residential houses with balconies. There is the Museum of History of Tbilisi in the old district, which is located in the building where was the main shopping center. Museum of Art, National Museum and open-air ethnographic museum will give you an overview about history and culture of Georgia.