There are four UNESCO heritage sites in Georgia and we had the chance to visit the Holy Cross Monastery of Jvari and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral included in the hisorical monuments of Mtskheta.Mtskheta was the old capital of Georgia and it was from this place that Christanity was adopted as the state religion of Georgia.
Jvari Monastery was the first stop.It is about 20 km from Tbilisi and is on top of Mount Armazi.
According to legend Saint Nino who brought christanity to Georgia erected a wooden cross at this site and a church was built over the remnants in c .545.The entrance to the monastery
From the top we can see the confluence of Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers.
I had a feeling of deja vu.This is the confluence of indus and zanskar rivers at Nimmu in Leh I had seen two years back.
It was a cold windy day and we could not stay long outside.Inside the church there were few worshippers..We also lit candles and stood in reverence .
Though the church looks well preserved it is facing damage from the rains and strong winds and is on the 100 Most Endangered Sites List of the World Monument Fund.
This monastery does not have impressive frescoes or statues like most of the churches we saw in Tbilisi but it has its own simple charm.
Soon it was time to leave St.Nino and go to the first orthodox church in Georgia.
I was very happy with the location of our apartment in the old part of the city.This area has an interesting mix of crumbling old buildings with high doors,open balconies,courtyards,cobblestone streets ,bakeries and churches. There are churches at almost every corner .One can see smartly dressed people setting out for their daily chores and school children waiting for their school bus.You may get lost in the labyrinthine alleyways but I was not a bit concerned .Mother of Georgia could be seen from everywhere and she guided me .
This balcony reminded me of the famous balcony scene in Romeo and
Tbilisi sounds musical and I knew almost nothing about this place other than it being the capital of Georgia. Digging into the history I found that Tbilisi is derived from the old Georgian word Tipli meaning warm.The story goes like this-King of Georgia Vakhtang I Gorgasali went hunting with his falcon and the falcon caught a pheasant.When he went to see the catch he found both the falcon and the pheasant in a hot spring .Impressed with this discovery he decided to build a city in that location and Tbilisi was born.
We booked an apartment through airbnb and reached there at 3 am.Our host and her two friends had come to receive us and soon we were in her 19 century apartment in the old part of the city.
In the courtyard are the ruins of an old church and on top of the Sololaki hill is this magnificient lady Kartvlis Deda or Mother of Georgia holding a bowl of wine to welcome the guests and a sword to ward off enemies.This 20 metre tall statue was made in 1958 and she symbolises the georgian spirit.
She stands tall and proud overlooking the city.I kept looking up at her in awe and tried to capture her from various angles.
The apartment was warm and cosy. It has a fireplace which I found charming.
This was the view from the window.I did not waste any time and set out to explore the city.